Actually you are correct: some textures, effects like smoke (distance where they start to render for example), etc are worse. They removed various visual effects from 2.0 to concentrate first on fixing the bugs of 3.0beta and then putting them back on the final release.
That was the original plan if you look for the first post after the first 3.0beta got released. But after that, with the official updates from TEAM DAEDALUS ruining the the ULTRAPACK release timeframe (they keep trying to incorporate those official changes) the effect update went to the developer limbo.
Yes, Im not happy about that either. But still hoping for a final UP 3 with a ton of new stuff and the old effects back!!!!