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Unreal Tournament (Dreamcast) artwork

Unreal Tournament (Dreamcast) review

"Let us not mince words boys and girls, Unreal Tournament on the Dreamcast is one of my all time, number one favourite games of all time. It's great, I love it and haven't got a bad word to say about it. So if you don't want to read anymore of what is going to be a drooling, gooey-eyed, praisefest then stop reading now. "

Let us not mince words boys and girls, Unreal Tournament on the Dreamcast is one of my all time, number one favourite games of all time. It's great, I love it and haven't got a bad word to say about it. So if you don't want to read anymore of what is going to be a drooling, gooey-eyed, praisefest then stop reading now.

Well if you're still here, you either love this game as much as I do or you hate and and want plenty of ammunition for your hatemail. Because not only is Unreal Tourney ace, it blows sucky ole' Quake 3 Arena right off the map as well. Oh, a little bit controversial, but I have my reasons...

Now then for those of you who may have spent the last few years living in fluffy bunny nintendo land I'll explain what Unreal Tournament is all about. Basically it belongs in the genre known as FPS or First Person Shooter. In games like this the screen is your viewpoint, your weapon sticks out at the bottom of the screen and your goal is to run around levels shooting as many opponents as possible, while avoiding getting shot yourself.

Unreal Tournament is part of a sub-genre known as the tournament shoot'em up. In games like this instead of clearing levels of enemies to reach a goal, you are thrown into an arena and matched against intelligent foes all with the same aim of reaching the highest number of kills or ''frags''. Each played spawns into the arena lightly armed and armoured, various powerful weapons and power-ups are scattered around the arenas and players all scramble to acquire the most powerful. Death means you respawn with only your initial weapon leaving you at a disadvantage.

Both Unreal Tournament and its main rival Quake 3 belong in this genre. Unreal is by far the better of the two games. Now I want to explain my reasoning behind this assertion and it has alot to do with the console hardware both these games appear on. I am not an expert FPS player, I have never played the PC versions of these games and have never played either online. To be honest although I love FPS games I tend to suck pretty badly at them. This is the reason I love Unreal on the DC. It is really easy to play!

Unlike Quake 3, the people who converted Unreal to the DC have understood the basic differences between PC and console gamers. PC gamers will have access to a mouse, a keyboard and extensive online capabilities. To play an FPS to expert level these are a must. Now most console gamers will not own a mouse or a keyboard and online capabilities are limited. To get the most out of Quake 3 on the DC you need all the peripherals the PC version needs, otherwise it is almost impossible to move, shoot and aim. The game becomes irritating and frustrating very quickly. Plus it is no fun to play with friends who are even more inexperienced than you.

Unreal on the other hand has been converted with the control limitations of consoles in mind. Unlike Quake 3 movement is done via the analogue stick. Aiming is limited to up and down on the buttons, strafing left and right also on the buttons. Unlike Quake there is also a degree of auto-aim, instead of pin-point accuracy there is kind of a 'smear' targeting. This is no criticism. With the difficulty in precise aiming with a joypad, this makes the game far more enjoyable. Control issues are such an important part of an FPS and these ''dumbed down'' controls make Unreal Tourney the best designed console shooter ever.

With these easy to use controls, fast, furious and fun gameplay quickly follows. The arenas are all beautiful designed and easy to navigate around. There are plenty of high places to snipe from, dark corners to hide in and wide open spaces to chase each other around in. All the arenas are beautifully designed and several of the floating space levels are breathtakingly lovely. I don't think I have ever played a game where I felt so immersed in the atmosphere. As you take on the computer opponents you and they taunt and bait each other. This creates a real feeling of actually being there and in some extended battles I really began to think of my opponents as 'real'.

Unreal also has some great weaponry, outclassing Quake 3 again in choice and flexibility. For example the sniper rifle is great for those who like to play a stealthy game, old faves like the rocket launcher provide raw power and allow you to dominate (until you fire one in a corridor by mistake and blow yourself up, D'oh!). The ripper fires razorblades that can take an opponents head of in one shot and lets not forget the satisfaction of pounding zillions of bullets into a twitching corpse with the mini-gun! Each weapon has a secondary fire mode which allows for extra tactics. Holding down the secondary fire button with the rocket launcher allows you to load then fire up to six rockets at once, awesomely funny.

Unreal also excels in gameplay options. Apart from the normal every man/cyborg for himself deathmatch options, you can also partake of Domination, Capture the Flag and Challenge modes. Domination and Capture the Flag both see you in charge of a small team. Simple orders can be given via the menu screen and the superior AI means that you don't have to do everything yourself, your team mates will behave with a modicum of intelligence. Domination is a frenetic tag style game. each level has three large X's in it. Tagging an X turns it your teams colour, the longer it stays your colour the more points you team clocks up. Capture the Flag demands you raid the enemies base and steal their flag, while preventing them capturing yours. Challenge mode sees you pitted against the best opponents in the game in an intense one-on-one deathmatch. The rising difficulty options gives you the chance to replay each level against more and more intelligent opponents.

Kudos should really be given to the programming of your opponents. These inhuman 'bots' really do behave very much like human players. In the novice settings I was amused to see them falling into gunge, blowing themselves up and running off balconies in the same way I was doing as I got to grips with the game. Makes a change from AI opponents that just gang up on you and kill you. However playing against a human opponent is still satisfying. Two and four player split screen modes work well with no slowdown. Unfortunately in the UK the online mode was withdrawn, however since the single player mode and AI bots are so well done this really didn't bother me.

So to sum up. Easy to learn, but hard to master. Lovely graphics, tremendous atmosphere, fantastic music and sound effects. Brilliant single player and huge fun in multiplayer. I've played this game to death since it came out and still come back for more of a weekend gaming session. Better than Quake 3 Arena, it really is the ultimate console FPS. I have no hesitation in awarding it 10/10!

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Community review by falsehead (March 08, 2004)

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