Epic has employed a very subtle but very important tweak to how UT3 feels to play. It's less floaty than UT 2003 and UT 2004, and plays with a heightened sense of gravity. The double side steps, double jumps and wall dodges are all still there, but it feels a tiny bit slower. UT has always been known for its super fast twitch gameplay, and it still remains very fast, but UT3 feels like it has been calmed down ever so slightly.
This may be an effort to make the game more accessible. Indeed, getting straight into the action is as simple as UT one, two, three. From the main menu you can quick match with a choice of game modes only, and be dropped into a game in progress. Twitch shooters have for some been a somewhat enclosed thing. If nothing else, Epic is doing all it can from within the confines of the UT series to open its doors to a new audience.
But this may also cause problems for hardcore fans. For a PC game there's very few in-game graphics tweaking options. All you have is a slider for the quality of the visuals. Most PC games have 20 or more checkpoints for various graphical option. I'm sure you could go into some config file and manually change things, if you were so inclined, but that won't be an option for most gamers.
And it's a shame, because UT3 really is a stunning-looking game that's only really surpassed in terms of visuals by recent PC-killer Crysis. Indeed, it's Epic's best-looking game yet, better even than Gears of War, as the developer's head honcho Mark Rein told me. If you've got a PC capable of making grown men cry, UT3 will shine, running smoothly and displaying characters, environments and explosions in tremendous detail. Even with a pretty decent PC you'll be impressed by the Gothic, war-torn meaty marine art direction Epic can now claim to be specialists in. The game shows off the excellent Unreal Engine 3 in all its glory.
Other additions clearly weren't worth the effort. The single-player campaign - the most fleshed out the UT series has seen - is simply a series of battles with bots tied together by Gears of War-esque in-game cut-scenes - and won't keep anyone's attention for too long. It does, however, provide a solid training ground for newcomers to the series not brave enough to go straight online.
It's difficult to see how UT can unleash itself from the shackles of its genre. Should Epic even bother? Should we commend them for sticking to their guns and not pandering completely to a mainstream audience by revamping the game? UT has a fan base that is hugely loyal and they make each game a huge success. It's great fun of course, and UT3 had done nothing that will put off fans of the genre. Question is, is it any more enticing for those of you unfamiliar with the wonders of the Link Gun? Answer: Probably not.