I’ve got UT3. I’ve played the shit out of it. Surprised, right? I know, me too.
I’m not allowed to write a review on the thing because my editor isn’t very comfortable with sixty pages of what would likely be strikingly pornographic adulation being posted as a legitimate review. I don’t know that I could do anything like an objective review, though, so I guess he has a point. I am not kidding you when I say that I want to have sex with this game. No dinner, no movie, not even a few choice words about its pretty hoop earrings and swanky nightgown; my junk wants to be in this game’s trunk. Plain. Simple. END OF LINE.
This is the point where the adroit few of you take a small break while the remaining headshot fodder comes up with any way they can to make the above sound like I want to press up against dudes. I look at the game like a well kept woman, though. Curvy where she needs to be, sharp where it counts and intelligent enough to make me respect her no matter how many times she turns me over and calls me a n00b.
There is one point at which I am confused, though: the visual presentation is absolutely stunning. I run this hot-ware at crazy resolution with all bells and respective whistles, each an every one, turned up to ‘holy shit’. I am getting the complete package and it is an amazing package indeed. You’ve got your bump maps, your moving brushes, your HDR and bloom overuse, your colorful textures and about ninety-thousand-billion times the triangles crunched per second than the game’s software rendered ancestor(s) and it shows. But why?
Yes, I actually asked that. Why? Please don’t start composing your banal response about aesthetic and art and progress and hardware and all of that; the question is largely rhetorical. In fact, I think I know why, but I want you to sit on it a second. If you were one of the three guys out there who didn’t respond with the company line, I applaud you.
It isn’t about progress. In fact, I’m pretty sure it isn’t about presentation. It wasn’t until the game froze, leaving me suspended mid-jump while the home server, presumably, crunched the wrong numbers, that I even saw the questionable investment of resources. I hung there, sitting on a cloud as my enemy held an angry aim on me, and looked for a moment at the environment. Gears whirred in the walls, light bounced and refracted from all angles, sunbeams tore through the otherwise invariably dire sky and my enemy – some crocodiliac mangled mess of a monster – presented me bump mapping of the highest degree. There were bits of my teammates, I imagined I could see, still on his teeth.
It was all very beautiful and as I was stuck there in bad-code limbo it occurred to me that there was a reason for the shine and sheen: Screenshots. The game looks amazing in screenshots. Screenshots sell games. You can’t show gameplay in a screenshot – not with any depth. Screenshots sell games. Screenshots sell games. I was, stuck there while the master server attempted zero division, exactly where they marketed me to be.
It occurred to me then that the time that it took to make that moving gear brush in the wall could’ve been better used making it so I didn’t get stuck there in the sky like that. I’d never have seen it anyway. The game is the king of twitch action. If you stop long enough to notice anything but the basic structure of the scenery your head comes off. I know this because it is me popping it off most of the time. The fluff and flare is absolutely needless to the hardcore.
In no other arena of life would I refer to myself as hardcore. I have difficulty with shoes; the ones that go on your feet. But UT is my little haven of awesome. Some of you have friends, some of them are girls and some of you have girl-friends. I have the innate ability to have that guy scream ‘DOMINATING‘ at me in the first thirty seconds of a UT match. It is not something to be proud of in mixed company, but hey, I kick YOUR ass.
As a hardcore UT playist I have no need for the pretty picture. It is great, and I’m not complaining about it at all, but having played every iteration of this game since the nineties I question the purpose of the face-lift. The gameplay is tweaked to the point of genius and the net code seems pretty solid once you get past the stuck-in-sky paradigm once every two-hundred games and the people I play with rock cocks, so why do I need to see dust motes and why does the wall need to be a machine?
Answer: 13 year olds. The kids who are coming to UT from Halo and think that it can only be hardcore if it is shiny and whose hands are not, in fact, stained with blood of the countless lives lost over a decade of head-poppery. It is to attract them and their parents’ hard earned sixty bizzles.
I suppose I resent this. I suppose you think I’m elitist for it. I suppose you think that because you can’t make it ten feet from your base without finding a bloody mess where your head used to be.