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Thread: Ut2004

  1. #1
    Ah, Mrs. Peel! mike_w's Avatar
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    Oct 2003
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    Unreal Tournament. Probably one of my all-time favourite games, it was the best of the arena based shooters. Fast forward a couple of years, and we have UT2003. Oh dear. It had nice shiny new graphics, new maps, new game types and new weapons. But it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the original.

    Firstly, despite all the new things that were plonked in, some of Unreal Tournaments best features were missing. Among the biggest mistakes was the absence of an Assault mode, along with the Sniper Rifle being replaced by a Lightning Gun.

    To make things worse, UT2003 didn’t feel like Unreal Tournament. It felt like Quake 3. I don’t like Quake 3, or certainly not when you can play Unreal Tournament. So I didn’t play UT2003, and went back to Unreal Tournament.

    Now, the latest instalment, with the very original name of UT2004, is out. Well, actually, it’s been out for a while now, but I thought I’d write a review anyway, especially considering it’s still fairly new, with a wide range of people playing it. Me being one of them.


    Let’s get the boring part out of the way. Yes, I’m sure lots of you love a game with great graphics, but I don’t care that much so long as I can tell an arm from a leg. With games with graphics as good as they are today, even the lowest settings look good. If I can run the game smoothly, I’m happy. This was run on a Mobile Barton 2400+ overclocked to about 2ghz, 512 TwinMOS with Winbond RAM (CAS2.5) and a lowly Radeon 9600. Even so, the game still looked good, and ran smoothly at around 35fps in the big Onslaught maps on medium settings. My system can handle higher settings, but it sometimes dips to the wrong side of 30fps, so I just left it how it was.

    A Quick History Lesson

    One of the most attractive parts of the original Unreal Tournament was the fact that you could play both online and offline. The bots in the game are still great, and provide plenty of challenge. The bots certainly give you a run for your money, especially on the higher settings and their behaviour can sometimes be eerily humanlike.

    One survivor from the previous two games is the mutators. They essentially change the game with a myriad of options. One of the most popular is InstaGib, an option that will give you a gun that can kill anyone instantaneously.

    Perhaps the greatest part of UT2004 is that, unlike its predecessor, it feels like Unreal Tournament. It has Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag all once again. It also had the triumphant return of Assault. I think this was added back into UT2003 by a patch or mod, but by that point I’d given up playing it. Assault is still as fun as ever. For those poor souls who have never played Assault, the premise is simple. There are two teams: one is attacking, and must complete a certain list of objectives. The other team are the defenders and must try and stop the attackers completing their objectives. The main strength is that it allows a wide range of scenarios, from battles in space to stealing missiles. Completing each objective within the time limit can be nerve racking, trying to get rid of that last bit of health before you get shot down, or push that lever that little bit further.

    From UT2003 we have two main game modes: Bombing Run and Double Domination. In Bombing Run, there is one ball, which you must capture and try to get through the enemy’s goal to score. So basically football with huge guns. Sadly, we still have Double Domination. Or rather, we don’t have the domination from Unreal Tournament back yet. Personally, I quite liked Domination from the original. That’s not to say Double Domination is bad, just that I would prefer to play the original Domination instead. I certainly wouldn’t complain if I got a choice of both. In Double Domination, you must capture and hold two flag points for ten seconds in order to score.

    In With The New…

    I’ve already mentioned the fact that UT2004 plays like Unreal Tournament rather than Quake 3, as UT2003 did, so that’s already a huge positive boost to the game. That in itself is enough to make this a great game. Instead, we get given plenty more of new material. Carrying on from the description of game modes, we have Onslaught. The idea is as follows: destroy the enemy power core. But of course, it’s not quite that easy. Between both team’s power cores are power nodes. If you capture one power node, then you can capture all the power nodes that are connected to it. You carry on in this fashion, until you capture a node that connects with the enemy’s power core. Now, you can attack the enemy’s power core to your heart’s content.

    In Onslaught, you'll find yourself dashing across the map, frantically trying to destroy the enemy's node, hoping that your teammates can hold the line against the attacks of the enemy. Sometimes the best fun is when you're losing - against the odds, you try to gain a foothold, despite the fact that you're completely outgunned against the other team. Even when you've been forced right back to your own power core, with the powercore nearly destroyed, and now being drained by Overtime (if you go over the time limit, both cores are slowly drained depending on how many nodes the enemy controls), it's perfectly possible to finally capture a node, and push the other team back. You can build up so much momentum that you go from the brink of destruction to flattening the enemy and blowing their core to pieces in a just a couple of minutes. You can get a huge sense of teamwork as a dozen soldiers all fight side by side, with rockets flying across the landscape, bullets pounding into the ground, aircraft flying by, watching vehicles overwhelm the battered troops, shells shattering the earth, and at last feel victory. It's these sorts of moments that encapsulate the experience of UT2004 best.

    Perhaps the part that makes Onslaught one of my favourite modes (Assault and Capture the Flag being the others) is the vehicles, which also make a welcome appearance in Assault.

    Zoom, Zoom, Zoom…

    In UT2004, there’s nothing quite like flying across the landscape in a Manta. From the huge Leviathan, to the nimble Scorpion, all are huge fun. The bots are also more than able to hold their own in vehicles, giving you good dogfights in the air or exchanging fire between tanks.

    The Leviathan is big. Its gun is big. There are four turrets on the side, which do a fair bit of damage, while the driver gets to fire missiles. But the fun really starts when you deploy the Leviathan. Although you can’t move, you can use the huge gun. It makes a big bang. The shockwave it produces gives you a huge sense of power, tossing Hellbenders and Scorpions up into the air as though they’re nothing more than balls of paper being thrown into the bin.

    The Goliath is a slow, ponderous tank, but with a turret on it that has a nice blast radius, capable of despatching people and the smaller vehicles with a single shot. As people run around, seeing the threat of your tank, they try to stop you with dozens of volleys of missiles and flak cannons, all whizzing past or smashing into you. And then you end all it all with a quick tap on the mouse, and a nice, satisfying bang, and the silence now that they can’t fire their weapons due to a distinct lack of arms. Well, until they respawn anyway.

    The Hellbender also has a couple of turrets. The driver only gets to drive, which isn’t too bad since it is fairly nippy for its size. The two passengers get to use a couple of turrets with a good bit of damage.

    The Raptor is an agile aircraft, armed with lasers and missiles. The missiles can lock on to other Raptors and Mantas, making it handy for fighting other aircraft, as well as for aerial bombard, on tanks and leviathans in particular. When dog fighting with other Raptors, you always have to pray that you’re causing more damage than the enemy. As you watch your health tick down, you can only hope that theirs is ticking down faster.

    The Scorpion is probably one of the two best vehicles in the game. It’s fast and nimble, making it easier to avoid damage and whack people into your bumper. There are also two blades you can point outwards to cleanly lop your prey’s head off. For attacking other vehicles and gun emplacements, you can use the turret on top, which releases a chargeable ribbon of energy. Useful against lesser armed vehicles, such as Mantas, Scorpions and, to some extent, Hellbenders, the weapons simply doesn’t do enough damage to threaten the big ‘uns, such as the Goliath. Its speed makes it brilliant just to drive in, running circles around people until you move in for the kill with an expertly timed swing of the rear wheels and the release of the twin blades.

    The Manta is the second of my favourite vehicles. It’s stupid speed and manoeuvrability lets you avoid most damage, and cause a decent bit of damage to others. It’s also great fun to lower the Manta so that the twin fans reach the ground and turn the unlucky victim in a thick puree. They’re also surprising good against larger vehicles – attacking a Goliath, with its turret slowly turning towards you, but never quite catching up as you move around as quickly as possible, knowing that a single shot will blow you into the sky.

    In the Assault level AS-Mothership, you get to fly about in space fighters. Armed with a similar armament to the Raptor, including lasers and missiles, the space craft make this one of the more enjoyable maps of the game.

    And There’s Still More

    Or at least, there’s still more from the online community. There are already many good mods out there on the Internet, with many more promising mods in production – two such mods are Action and Unreal Fortress Evolution. The community is strong, and will probably give the game far greater longetivity.

    There is also an updated selection of guns. Unreal Tournament already had a great selection that each filled a certain gap, and slotted in nicely with each other. From there, you still have (deep breath): the Translocator, the Biorifle, the ASMD Shock Rifle, the Link Gun (a renamed Plasma Rifle), the Minigun, the Flak Cannon, the Rocket Launcher, the Sniper Rife and the Redeemer.

    There are several new additions to the line up since then. The Assault Rifle is just your pathetic starting gun. The Lightning Gun was introduced in UT2003 to replace the Sniper Rifle, but now appears alongside it. The Shieldgun is basically a new version of the Impact Hammer. The Ion Painter calls in an ion cannon strike. The AVRiL is a beefed up rocket launcher with homing abilities, designed specifically for anti-vehicle purposes. The Target Painter calls in an air strike from the Phoenix Bomber, while the Grenade Launcher just launches sticky grenades. Finally, the Mine Layer can be hilarious – it releases mechanical spiders that run towards enemies, but the most fun can be had with the Alt-fire. Wherever you click, the spiders will follow – there’s nothing quite like watching somebody desperately running away from a horde of spiders.


    So, what are we left with? A game with great bots, great gameplay modes, a satisfying and well-balanced range of weapons, fantastic vehicles, great maps, a solid online community, and most importantly, a game that is just plain fun.

    Looking back over this review, I haven’t levelled a single complaint against this game. If there are a couple of criticisms, it’s that this style of play doesn’t appeal to everyone. Some people want games with storylines, where you’re not in team, where you have different classes. But to be honest, this isn’t really the fault of the game, but rather the genre it belongs to. If you like FPSs, you should love UT2004. If you don’t like FPSs, you’ll probably like UT2004 anyway. A masterpiece.

    - Everything
    - Oh, more specific. Great vehicles
    - Great weapons
    - Great community
    - Great maps
    - Great game modes
    - Great fun

    - Don’t be silly
    - Well, you might not like the genre, but you can’t blame the game for that, now, can you?

    Final Score: 95%
    "Well, there was your Uncle Tiberius who died wrapped in cabbage leaves but we assumed that was a freak accident."

  2. #2
    Very good review, thanks for posting

  3. #3
    1UP is offline
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    Oct 2004
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    It's all about Onslaught. I'm online on UK pubs most nights, frag you later!

  4. #4
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    Jul 2003
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    Thanks for that I was a massive UT fan for the reasons stated and felt the same way as you about UT2003...Have to say your tempting me back to the fold!!

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