Take a moment to pity poor Unreal Tournament 3: the game finally sees the light of day after experiencing several delays and a name change only to find that it has to compete with recently released titles such as Halo 3, Call of Duty 4 and Quake Wars. Talk about an uphill battle!

The good news, however, is that Unreal Tournament 3 not only lives up to the high standards of the franchise, it's Epic's best effort in years and it's a must-buy for fans of the series.

In some respects, Unreal Tournament 3 hearkens back to the first Unreal Tournament. UT3 is much weightier, in contrast to the floatier feel of UT 2004, and the overall effect is one of a striking return to form.

Beyond shooter staples such as Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, UT3 narrows its focus with a new vehicle-centric mode called Warfare. Rather like a combination of Domination and UT 2003’s Bombing Run mode, Warfare fares well.

Indeed, Unreal Tournament 3 is actually rather strategic - cooperating with teammates and guarding waypoints is vital, so don't think you can just run around spraying ammo. Some of the matches take 20 minutes or more, and we would have also preferred to see a return for the under-rated Assault mode – it’s too bad Epic didn’t include both.

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