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Game Over Online ~ Unreal Tournament

GameOver Game Reviews - Unreal Tournament (c) GT Interactive, Reviewed by - Langdon / Daxx /

Game & Publisher Unreal Tournament (c) GT Interactive
System Requirements Pentium 200, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 96%
Date Published Friday, December 3rd, 1999 at 09:36 PM


Divider Left By: Langdon Divider Right

Just when you thought the first-person-shooter death-matching genre was all washed up -- Unreal Tournament hits the shelves, and it has definitely left a mark bigger than your mother's rear. Backed by the best 3D engine on the market (at the moment), Unreal Tournament is a death-matching junkie's dream come true. Every aspect of this title, hell -- even the installer, seems to be a well-defined masterpiece. This game brings new meaning to the term "Quake-Killer." -- but enough with the rants; let's get to the details.

First things first -- before actually getting into UT, I was walked-through a hardware auto-detection screen that set up my UT video/display settings as per the hardware in my machine. I have a p2-300 w/ 128 ram, and it suggested I use 512x384 resolution. I don't know what that's all about, but as soon as I got into the game I switched to 1024x768, and the thing runs perfectly fine. Once this was over with, I was presented with a nice little intro screen. I'm not sure as to why this is done, but it is a lot nicer than staring at a blank full screen window, waiting for something to load. UT's initial load time does take quite a long time, however once you're in the game, the levels load in a matter of seconds. I highly recommend you DO NOT install minimal components. It will only make your level load times longer. Next, I got into the game and was presented with a nicely rendered cinematic sequence. It proceeded to inform me of the storyline behind Unreal Tournament. What the hell? How can this game have a storyline? All the same, I listened carefully: UT takes place in the year 2341, fifty years after death match was created (which is 2291 for you math scholars) in attempt to control violence among deep space niners. It seems I have now been selected to fight in the professional league. Furthermore it told me that my strength and brutality were legendary -- and *I* would most definitely have to agree on that one. So after watching the intro two or three times, (yes it loops infinitely until you hit a key), I continued on to see the main interface.

The interface in UT is the best interface I've seen in a video game yet. The menu system, and tabbed windows are very easy to navigate through, and the display is totally customizable with options like mouse-speed, font-size, and skins (what application isn't complete without skins these days?)! To start off, you should run through the menus and get acquainted with what UT has to offer. A notable feature to check out is the weapons browser. I believe you can get to it by clicking on the Weapons menu, under Options. Here you can view all of the weapons UT has to offer, as well as read some literature on the full names of the weapons, as well as their alternate firing methods. You can also set which weapons you think are more important by dragging items in the left-hand list up or down. For example: If you move the pistol to the top of the list, any other weapon you pick up along the way will not automatically appear in your hands. Vice versa, if you move the pistol to the very bottom of the list, any other weapon you pick up will automatically be replaced by the pistol, and appear in your hands. Another notable feature, probably the best feature *EVER*, is the Internet Relay Chat client. Yup -- move over Khaled, because Unreal Tournament has it's own IRC client now. You can join other UT fans online and chat politics with them. It's actually a really nice feature, in that you can easily setup games with friends. Start a private message with your friend, find a server, paste it to him/her, and all they have to do is click on what you paste. How easy can it be? You can also tell when friends are involved in games, and join the game they are playing.

Or maybe you'd just like to chat with other fans about the abundant modes of game play that come stock with UT? As it has been in the past, we had to wait a good 6 months after a game was released for any type of mods to be developed or even released for it. Well with UT, you get your standard death match, where everyone takes on in a slugfest of whizzing bullets and booming rockets to see who can score the most frags while dying the least amount of times. However UT doesn't stop there -- it includes FIVE more types of game play: Team Death Match, Domination, Capture the Flag, Assault, and Last Man Standing. My personal favorite, Assault, separates players into two teams and assigns one team the job of the assaultee, and the other team the job of the assaulter. There are about 10 different scenarios available to use on this mode of game play. Each map has it's own unique story and objective behind it, but the particular map that stands out in my mind is Frigate (which happens to be the very first scenario in single player mode). While the assaultee's attempt to different points of the train, the assaulters attempt make their way across the plank, into the large battle ship, and into the boiler room to destroy a piece of machinery. Next, the assaulters have to make their way to the top of the ship to fire the cannon and destroy the wall. The way it was setup on the server that I was playing on was like this: The first team of assaulters had 10 minutes to complete the mission. If they completed it within the allotted time frame, the second team to be the assaulters, instead of having 10 minutes, had the amount of time it took for the first team to complete the mission. Otherwise they had the whole 10 minutes. My second favorite mode of game play, a close first, would have to be Last Man Standing. In this mode, instead of tallying frags, players have a set number of lives at the beginning of each match. Each time a player dies, he/she respawns with one less life and ALL weapons. Once you lose all of your lives, you become a spectator. There are no items, power-ups, weapons, or health in this mode, which makes for some serious fun. Domination involves three checkpoints with a colored shape at each. Players are separated into teams, and the object of the game is to keep each checkpoint your teams color. Frags are not counted in this mode -- what is counted, is the amount of time you keep the checkpoints at your particular color. A team wins when they have X amount of time tallied (where x is defined by the server). It seems every 2 to 3 seconds that a checkpoint has your color you get another point. The final mode of game play that I will discuss, is Capture the Flag. UT came packed with some of the nicest CTF maps that I have ever seen. Facing Worlds, the most fun to play involves two towers on some sort of planet. Players have to trek across the open playing field, dodging snipers and rocket thwarting enemies, into the tower, around the corner to snag the flag. Once the flag is in their possession, they have to make the trip back to their own tower. Depending on whether or not the other team has their flag, the player can either score by bringing the opposing team's flag to their own flag, or the player can wait around for their own flag to be returned by a teammate. Waiting around for the flag to be returned is quite a task being that enemies can easily invade your tower.

As if the interface wasn't good enough, UT had to go and soup up the in-game display as well. To start off with, UT lets you pick the color of your in-game display. Make use of UT's custom color creator (not the real name of it of course), to create any color you can think up. After choosing the color, you can set the opacity value of the display so that the stats on the screen don't totally block out your view. Different modes of game play display different things. If you're duking it on in the death match mode, you'll see a weapons bar along the bottom of the screen, with your health, armor, ammo, etc displays on the top right. If you're playing on the assault mode or capture the flag, you'll have no weapon bar, just health, armor, and ammo displays centered at the bottom of the screen. If you so choose to turn on the FPS display, UT will give you a very minute text read out of how many frames per second you're getting. This is very helpful for benchmarking so that you have an idea of your rates without having to watch a 60 second time demo. The best new aspect of UT's in-game display is the "spread" display. Not only does UT tell you your score in the bottom left hand corner, but it also tells you how far behind, or how far ahead you are from first place. Now you won't have to hit F1 every 30 seconds just to see how you rank.

Another aspect where UT doesn't fail us is the music department. Some of the most fitting music in a soundtrack I've heard yet. (Now I have to figure out how to play these UMX files in an external player -- read on). The tracks start up as soon as you jump into a level -- and some of them really get you going. All of the music seems to be a little techno-ish with a nice hardcore edge to it. It really goes along with maiming and destroying your friends in a blood-spewing death match. I recall one instance that I was involved in a heated online death match with some friends. The action was intense and the music was one of the quicker tempo tracks. I took a rocket straight to the face, and my body parts went flying in every direction. As I respawned the music slowed down to a tactical sounding medley. I collected a few items and ran into a few enemies as the music picked right up with the action. Either they made it that way, or it was just common sense -- but any which way you look at it -- my god, it was exhilarating. The only problem, A BIG PROBLEM, is that the audio isn't CD-Audio. UT uses (*.umx) files for music, so I can't listen to it on my stereo -- ugh. Anyway, the sound effects in the game are also top notch. Each weapons has it's own crystal clear sound effect to go along with it, as well as your run of the mill blood-curdling screams, grunts, and `ooofs`. The announcer is a new added "fluff" feature, which doesn't really serve any purpose or add to game play what-so-ever. He'll let you know when you're on a killing spree, or a rampage (you get certain statuses after killing X amount of people without dieing). He'll also count down from 9, the seconds that are left in assault mode. As well, your enemies now let you know when they kill you, and your teammates let you know when they killed someone else. After being smashed into pieces by an opponent, you'll often hear your enemies mocking you. The most annoying one of all would have to be when a female player says, "I'm sorry, did I just blow you up?" You can bind keys to different sayings, and annoy the hell out of people simply by hitting that certain key. There's also an option that will auto-taunt for you. So that when you kill someone, you'll shout a random saying at him or her. Another option, "No Mature Taunts", which will only make you shout -- duh -- immature taunts at opponents.

There are literally a TON of maps included in UT: You get your old, original Unreal maps along with a plethora of new maps for every mode of game play there is. A quick run down of the number of maps in the single player modes of game play are as follows: Death match offers 13 maps, which don't include the original Unreal maps. Domination offers 9 different maps, which the most enjoyable for me is, the Oil Rig. It's nice in that from each checkpoint, you can see another checkpoint. So it's pretty easy to keep all your checkpoints in check. err. Next, Capture the Flag offers users another 9 maps. I think the best level designs exist in the capture the flag maps -- again -- just check out Facing Worlds. Speaking more on single player mode -- I think it has a lot of goodness to offer. In fact, so far I've been playing more single than multiplayer. The way it works is like this -- each mode of game play has it's own section (except for team play and last man standing). You have to begin with death match and progress through each level, placing in first on each to continue. Each mode of game play also has a nice tutorial for you to run through, although unless you're new to first person shooters, you probably won't need these. Once you defeat 2 or 3 levels on the death match mode, Domination will then be available to you. You receive a trophy when you conquer every level within a category. You add these trophies to your trophy room, which is viewable from the single player game select screen. Once you get trophies for all of the modes of game play, a final category, Challenge, opens up. This category consists of 4 maps -- however since I haven't yet gotten through the first one, which is a death match on a space station, I can't tell you much about it. One of the better things about UT, that Unreal was a bit test about, is that the bots aren't TOO EXTREMELY difficult this time around. I recall playing the original Unreal and not being able to win a bot match at all. However on the other side of things, the bots aren't TOO easy either. I had one helluva time finishing the last level of Capture the Flag.

The weapons in UT aren't too spectacular, but they do get the job done. Like in Half-Life, weapons have alternate firing methods. This adds another level of game play to your fragging. Also, like in Half-Life, you now house multiple weapons per slot (1 thru 0). Actually, I can only think of one slot that houses multiple weapons -- the first slot -- which includes a chainsaw (that I haven't yet found to be in the game), the Impact Hammer (of which I've found, but can't ever use effectively), and the Translocator (which you drop somewhere, and you can return to that spot by pressing alternate fire). Other weapons you can find along the way are: the Redeemer, Rocket Launcher, Flak Cannon, Minigun, GES Bio Rifle, Enforcer (of which you can hold one in each hand), Shock Rifle, and the Sniper Rifle. A lot of these weapons are just rehashed from the original Unreal and don't offer much of anything new. However, I do think that the UT team did an excellent job of balancing out the weaponry. No one weapon does a more effective job than another weapon -- they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. UT also has one of the coolest features dealing with the weapons that I've seen. I noticed it while sitting in a very dark space (check the screen shot). Some of the weapons actually have their own displays -- take the rocket launcher for example. If you look at the rocket launcher when you're running around, it tells you how much ammo you have left on a little LCD screen.

So how does Unreal Tournament size up? Well the only word that comes to mind is BRILLIANCE. I have no idea how Quake 3 Arena is even going to begin to compare to this title. Unreal Tournament is an out-the-box-success. No week-later problem fixer patch is needed here. Everything in the game is utter perfection. Whether you're in it for the single player quest or the online extravaganza Unreal Tournament doesn't have what you need -- IT IS what you need. And after all this -- if you're still not satisfied - at least you got yourself about a forty-dollar IRC client.

 

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Rating
98%
 

 

 
 

 

 

Divider Left By: Daxx Divider Right

I'm sure I'm stating the obvious to a majority of you; the multiplay in Unreal was bad. So bad, in fact, that I was not relishing the release of Unreal Tournament. I figured it would be Unreal with more multiplay modes and the same laggy slow-paced netplay. Fortunately, since I first played (and gave up) with Unreal multiplay, the code monkeys at Epic have been steadily improving the netcode and features of the Unreal engine. Let me just say the resulting engine has been put to great use, resulting is a great game with tons of play modes, beautiful levels, and above all fun that shares nothing with it's predecessor except the gorgeous graphics (and that's a good thing).

Unreal Tournament makes full use of the beautiful Unreal engine, providing bright colorful textures, smooth animation, and detailed models. The game environment has become more futuristic and industrial as oppose to the lush organic world in Unreal, however there is a huge variety of textures which are well used in making every level unique and memorable. The characters are well animated and detailed, however I wish there were a few more models to choose from, in a game stuffed with extras the lack of models is a little surprising. However, this is not a big deal, the models provided are more than adequate and you can choose the face, skin, and color all separately which allows pretty good customization. Weapons are all quite nice looking, a small problem I have is that the shrapnel gun kinda looks like ammo when you're in the middle of a heated match, I wish it was a little more obvious. The weapon effects are great, big bright colorful explosions and projectiles really add to the pace of the game.

The game menus are very well layed out, it looks similar to a windows application so it's easy to navigate. I managed to find everything quickly and set up my controls, video/sound settings, and player without descending 50 levels into an options menu. Very easy to use, I like it a lot.

Sound is fantastic as well. I have a SB Live card so I used the EAX setting and I was very impressed with the audio. Everything sounds crisp and clear and above all LOUD. The automatic voice taunts are well done and don't repeat to a point where they become annoying. The weapon effects are the best I've ever heard, they all ooze power and make you feel great shooting them off. Environmental sounds are sparse but well placed; I think they could have included a few more environmental sounds in some of the levels but again, not a big deal. The music is good, high intensity and techno-esque, however there is hardly time in the game where you can hear the music, what with all the explosions and grunts and screams going on.

I won't dwell with control very much, it's standard FPS keys and is very responsive. One thing that is very cool is the in-game voice control menu in CTF mode. You press the V key by default, and you are given a Start-Menu like menu where you can order your teammates to do specific tasks (you can order them independently or all as one), inform your team of what you're doing, and taunt the other team. It's a very slick interface, and saves having to bind half a million keys to each specific function.

I can't get enough of the gameplay in UT. There are so many modes, so many maps, so much variety it's very impressive. Whereas most games come with the bare minimum then ship patches to add gameplay modes, UT ships with every kind of game mode possible. We're talking Deathmatch, Capture The Flag, Assault, Domination. We're talking 1 hit kill mode, turbo modes. The list goes on and on. The maps are fantastic too, there is such a wide variety that it's very hard to get bored. I kind of wish there were a few more maps in some of the gameplay modes (Assault comes to mind, I would love a few more Assault maps), but the overall number of maps is great. The netcode has been VASTLY improved since the Unreal days. It might be a tiny bit slower than Q3A Demo, but not by much. It is fully playable on a modem according to public opinion. This I cannot test myself because I have a cable modem, suckers!

Alright, so multiplay is fantastic, how is the single play? Surprisingly, almost as good. The actual tournament part of UT is really enjoyable. You basically complete ladders in each of the gameplay mode, once you make it to the top of the ladder you are awarded a trophy in that event and you move on to another. Other events open up at particular places along the tournament. For example, you can only do deathmatch until you reach the 3rd rung of the ladder, then the domination ladder opens up. The reason the single play is so enjoyable is the bots. They are good. Really good. They move intelligently, use cover to their advantage, collect powerful weapons, and run away if they are outmatched. The higher the difficulty level, the smarter the bots. For once, this doesn't mean bots that aim better, it actually means bots that play better. It makes a huge difference, if you're being dominated by bots on a high difficulty settings, it's not because they can shoot you through a window across the map, it's because they play smart. Speaking of difficulty settings, there are tons. Instead of easy, medium, hard, there are about 8 so you don't exactly fall in one of the 3 categories then you're still covered. Also, you can play adaptive skill where the bots will dynamically become more difficult if you're totally destroying them, and will ease up a little if you're getting trounced.

Bots are also great on a team, they cooperate and follow orders well. If they're in the middle of something they won't go trotting off to do your order, they are smarter than that. If you have the flag and a teammate bot sees you, they will escort you and guard you. It feels like playing with a real team, except the bots play as a team much better than humans! Overall the bots in this game are fantastic, and really work well in making the single player an enjoyable experience and adding to the multiplay experience.

Weapons? I'm happy to say they are great. The secondary mode on each weapon increases the versatility, it is usually a lot different from the primary mode. The weapon balance is pretty good, however the rocket launcher seems to be a little too powerful, especially with the ability to load up to 5 rockets at a time. With abundant rocket ammo you will often see people running around shooting 5 rockets constantly. I think it's great but perhaps a little less rocket ammo / ammo pack or a little less when you first pick up the weapon would force people to have a little more variety in the weapons. However, every weapon is useful in the right hands, which is the important thing. One minor gripe, the bio green-goopy weapon was goofy in Unreal and still seems pretty goofy to me now. Oh well, the rest of the weapons make up for it :).

If there was one thing I'm not terribly happy with, it's video card support. Unreal was developed originally with Glide (3dfx-based cards only) and only relatively recently added D3D and OpenGL support, both of which are still flakey. I've heard reports of the UT setup program not correctly setting TNT2 cards to D3D, instead setting it to software mode. This can easily be changed, but some people might not know what is going on and end up playing with software mode with their TNT2 sitting more or less idle. I personally play with my V2 8mb. I have a 16mb TNT1 card and it runs slower than my V2, even though it's accepted as being a much better video card. Not great, but it's not a monstrous problem.

Overall I think this is a fantastic game. The graphics are great, the sound is great, the quality and amount of levels and gameplay modes is great, the bots are great, and the game is just plain fun. This is a game definitely worth buying. While I haven't tried UnrealEd, I hear it's a nice and easy to use editor so I suspect we'll be seeing plenty of user levels and mods and weapons etc. coming out in the near future, extending the life of this game indefinitely. Now let's see how Q3A compares...

 

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Rating
98%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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