Unreal 3 Demo (for PC) – Epic Fail

So a while ago I downloaded the Unreal 3 Demo for PC. I’ve read a decent bit about what people thought of it, and figured it was time to try it out. Today I finally got around to taking a crack at it. Needless to say, I won’t be supporting it in any fashion. Here’s how it went:

1. First of all, I tried playing the demo a few weeks ago when I didn’t have an internet connection. Nope – no go. It requires you to register an account, even to play single player. Seriously – for a game that is supposed to be pick-up-and-play, it requires an awful lot of hassle, even to play single player.
2. When I did go to play it today, here’s a brief synapsis of what happened:

  1. I click to run the Unreal 3 Demo from the start menu. I wait a good while before anything appears on the screen. When the splash screen does appear, my harddrive starts to thrash like mad, intermittantly. I’m fine with that – it’s loading, right?
  2. Despite the intermittant harddrive thrashing, it does eventually load. Something saying what is being loaded might be nice. The game begins…(well, not quite).
  3. I am then confronted by a series of advertisements. Yes, I call them advertisements. Do I really care if the game is made by Midway, or that it’s powered by “Unreal Technology”? Gee, is it called UNREAL Tournament? Why Do I need to be confronted with a short video of an animated NVidia logo, especially when I already run an NVidia card? If your product is good enough that I bought it the first time, maybe you should thank me for buying an NVidia card, rather than forcing more advertising down my digital throat.
  4. I then get to the main menu, and go through the hassle of registration. Strangely enough, I have to use my secondary email account, as it appears my first was already registered. Is this Unreal Tournament that I am registering for, or is it GameSpy? Make it clear! Tell me exactly what’s going, preferably in as few words as possible.
  5. I manage to navigate through the menus to try some instant action. The menu layout could be more consistant – you have me click in the middle of the screen on a list of things several times in a row, then prevent me from doing so on the next menu. Oh, wait – there’s Previous and Next buttons down at the bottom now. I guess I will have to use those now instead. A bit counter intuitive, but I am willing to overlook stuff like that if it is a good game
  6. Now the crap really hits the fan. After a very brief loading screen, I get my first glimpse of the game. It looks pretty grainy, and really doesn’t look any better than Unreal 2004. From what I could figure, it was either running at 640×480 or 800×600, with no antialiasing. Not very pretty. Whatever.
  7. Click to begin the match. I do. It completely explodes. I am running a dual monitor setup. My right monitor (the one that wasn’t displaying the game at the time) goes nuts. Everything goes back into what looks like 8 bit color. Uh, ok. Maybe it’s just loading, right? Nope. The game sound dies, the harddrive starts thrashing and Unreal hangs. Not only does it hang, but it turns off my left monitor. (A sign to me that it was trying to switch to a resolution that the monitor doesn’t support. Not uncommon, but not something that I would expect when a program is already running).
  8. Okay, I can deal with this. I’ll just Ctrl+alt+delete and end the application, right? Uh, small problem there. It’s turned off my primary monitor. I can’t see the Task Manager window. Brilliant. How about the start button? Nope, can’t see it either. Alt+Tab to another program? Nope, nothing there either. The primary monitor is still off. Luckily, I happen to be running a nice little multi-monitor tool called Multimon. I press Ctrl+Alt+Right arrow to swing the current window from my left monitor (which is still turned off) to the right monitor (which looks like it is still in 8 bit color mode). I am finally able to kill the offending application, which I do. The right monitor still doesn’t turn on. Looks like I will need to reboot.
  9. I reboot, expecting things to be back to normal. They aren’t. My start menu and Taskbar are on my right monitor, when normally they are on the left. Also, the Multimon taskbar (which provides a second task bar on the secondary monitor) are also on the right hand monitor. Uh oh, something is definitely wrong.
  10. After a bunch of screwing around, I am finally able to get my taskbar back on my left monitor where it should be, and keep my Multimon taskbar on the right monitor where it was.

So, I will let you take one guess what I did after that. Did you guess yet? Yup, I uninstalled it. I don’t like running software that screws up my machine so badly that it makes me reboot, and have to mess around with my settings until I get my machine back the way it was before running it.

So, my opinion of my brief experience with the Unreal 3 PC demo can be summed up in one picture:

Make that Epic Fail.



  1. capn_midnight

    What the HELL could they be doing that could cause such a horrible reaction? I mean, seriously, you have to be a grade A moron programmer in order to mess someone’s system up *that* bad. Have they never made a game before? Do they not have a solid code-base to work from, one that isn’t the equivalent of ebola for computers? Completely inexcusable.

  2. Joel

    That’s what I thought too. I think it may have partly been my fault though – I wasn’t running the latest video card drivers (at least I don’t think I was). Either way though, I’m not impressed.

    It makes me want to out-do them in thier own game.

    I also noticed that Quake Wars: Enemy Territories doesn’t like multiple monitors as well – performance seems to lag when I have my second monitor enabled. At least it doesn’t crash and bring down my whole system though.

  3. Sparks

    I Agree..
    UT3 demo is Horrible at the least,
    The graphics looked something like Doom2,and the framerate was just nothing to write home about.All the settings and controls you set are REset the next time!! Uhh!! 😦

    Even the name they picked- UT3 Conflicts with their older game UT2003.

    Thumbs down to UT3 😦

  4. Joel

    Don’t get me wrong – I think the guys at Epic have incredible talent (even if they do use it to produce the same-old dribble). I was just particularly pissed that running a demo of a game could screw things up that badly.

    I still have yet to play any Unreal 3 based game on my computer, and I think I’ll keep it that way. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

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