Continuing with off topic discussion. Turns out I can run UT3 fine...in single player mode anyhow. The graphic settings are handled with two sliders instead of a bunch of checkboxes and pulldown menus, so I don't know what settings changed exactly but moving them from the default setting of 3 down to 2 allows the game to run smoov on my machine and it still looks pretty damn good.
UT3 has, for the most part, improved on that "Tele-tubby" look that plagued the previous couple versions. A lot of dirty and decaying maps that give the right UT mood, plus there are some "nice" maps too.
The only thing I have yet to figure out is the Post-Processing option. I have it on default but I think that setting is making the "nice" maps waaaay too glowy looking. Dynamic lighting gone wild...in a bad way. At least the grungy maps don't look that way.
Other than that, same game with a modern graphics engine. Which could be read either way depending on how one felt about original UT. For me, it's a positive statement, and will be buying UT3 this weekend. The usual explodey, bloody, dumb fun. Emphasis on both the dumb and fun.