Vehicle CTF, too, is untroubled by the potential complexities of where the vehicles live, how they behave, how you can use them as a group, and so on. Even the bigger levels can be covered quite quickly on your hoverboard, which everyone gets, and the game seems to have been purposely built to minimise dead-ends and loops of repetitious architecture that might trouble your passage - a particular concern when it's the frantic passage of a man with the flag.
Even the power-ups, which I'm not usually a fan of in team-based FPS, are more frag than suicide. The one I liked most in previews - what I termed the "slow bubble", now the "Stasis Field" - is a novelty delight, slowing everything in its gelatinous grip, but also very useful for ruining chokepoints for your enemies, and others like the Shield Generator (similar to Halo 3's shield bubble) and Jump Boots are a positive influence. That's really the story of UT3: a lot of cool things that work well together, but don't have to be put together, and don't diminish your enjoyment if you do want or need to exclude them. Simply playing deathmatch or normal CTF is as much fun as I've had doing that probably since I was obsessed with Quake 3 Arena and, well, the first Unreal Tournament.
Perhaps the most important of the main things left to talk about is performance - both in terms of how the game runs on PS3 and how it plays over PSN. The latter's easiest to deal with - the server browser shows you pings, you pick a server, get on and it just works. Mileage always does vary with such things, but even playing from the UK (on my UK PSN account, incidentally) against folks in the States hasn't been the torture you might fear. It's been great fun, actually. There's a LAN option too, unlike Orange Box, including a LAN co-op option for the single-player campaign. Sadly there's no split-screen, but Epic says it's going to evaluate adding that.
The PS3 handles Unreal Engine 3 well too. Back at Games Convention, Epic's Mark Rein spoke of how Epic's development process on the engine for PS3 would probably hit performance crescendo with the release of UT3, because it would be the point that they were able to have dealt with all the significant issues themselves, enabling them to better help licensees going forward. How it worked with Gears of War and UE3 on 360, essentially. I haven't spoken to Mark recently, but he'd probably stick with that, and he'd be hard to argue with - the PS3 sometimes strains itself to load in textures, leading to noticeable pop-in, but you can install the game to the hard disk which reduces this considerably (albeit not entirely), and the flow of even intense combat is almost never disrupted by the frame-rate going for a bath, although sometimes when you're racing around with masses of bots on a huge map it notices the dirt on its neck and slips out for a scrub.
Really the only slight PC-to-PS3 negative is the absence of the mooted mod support at the time of writing - something Epic had to delay to get the game out on schedule. But then again, mods rarely emerge this quickly after release, it almost certainly won't be a problem when the game ships in Europe, and it won't actually prevent you from going back and trying out the older ones when it's worked out anyway. (And actually, just prior to publication Epic jumped the Sony legal queue and released a user-made map to give us a taste.)
The other slight negative is more innate: sometimes the detail level is so massive that you struggle to get a grip on what's coming in from where. Epic's even had to highlight players with a weird gloss to help you pick them out. Removed from UT3 specifically, this has become an issue for FPS games as they've become more complex graphically, and in UT3's case the argument really needs to be made on whether the art is worth the imposed crutch. I suppose it is. An interesting minor point here is that sometimes the textures' initial struggle to pop in on PS3s which haven't done the hard-disk install can benefit you slightly by giving certain elements more clarity, but we're really scrambling for negatives if we nitpick that too extensively. Otherwise, the artistic direction is pretty important to how it plays, and while I think there's less acceptance of this kind of brash high-calibre macho composition on this side of the pond generally, I actually really like the stylised approach Epic's opted for with this and Gears. Elsewhere, UT3 could certainly do with Team Fortress 2's who-killed-you-cam post-death, but then so could everyone else making a multiplayer FPS.
The score, then. Jim went for eight on PC. I'm going for nine on PS3. I could fob you off and claim this is because the context is different. In fact, I probably ought to, because it's true: Team Fortress 2 isn't as effective in the PS3's slightly disappointing Orange Box release, although it's still a better multiplayer game outside of the platform question, and the alternatives (Resistance, most notably) don't do as much as well as this does. This feels like the PS3's new online FPS benchmark. But I've digressed - the other part of it is that I guess I like UT3 more than Jim, and he loved it. The fact we both do, and the PS3 version is as it should be, ought to give the console the boost Sony and Epic obviously wanted when their lawyers and money-men stripped off together, and while it's too late to get one in for Christmas, this would make a superb New Year's import. So whether you ultimately think it's an eight or a nine, the important point is that it's one of them for the people here who've played it, and either's a big, big recommendation.
9 / 10