"Consider UTís enviable balance. Imagine a map where beginners can seek rocket launchers to run amok, while pros can deign to gun them down armed with only a pair of pistols."
I was skeptical at first. I doubted that Unreal Tournament, the FPS, the PC phenomenon, could make a worthy showing on the PlayStation 2. A few minutes with this disc, spent acclimatizing myself with the controls (the wonderful analog stick configuration is as close as you'll get to a keyboard and mouse), lay all doubts to rest.
UT is an ancient game, and yet it holds up admirably. Fantastic futuristic backdrops, a perfect pairing of arsenal and level design, and addictive, frenetic action add up to a package brimming with a level of shoot-em-up energy the game can barely contain.
It's all done so remarkably well--the existence of that hiding spot that you feel so clever in discovering, enabling you to camp and effect clean decapitations from afar with your sniper rifle--it's no accident. The mayhem of bounding about in low gravity from rooftop-to-rooftop with only your rocket launcher in tow--it's no anomaly. These perfectly chaotic arenas of kill or be killed are UT's consistent reality; the machinations of a team of mad FPS designers brought to an ideal fruition.
Consider flak cannons which spit molten pellets off walls and around corners. Or shock rifles which fire plasma mines with the press of one button, and piercing bolts to set off those mines with the press of another. Consider UTís enviable balance. Imagine a map where beginners can seek rocket launchers to run amok, while pros can deign to gun them down armed with only a pair of pistols. All the while, the omniscient commentator gives shape to the din by announcing "headshot!" and "multi-kill!" as they happen--scarcely heard above the cacophony of weapon reports and blood-curdling screams.
This PS2 version furnishes little that is unique: split-screen multiplayer, a few negligible PS2-only levels, and a slightly inferior framerate. Everything else is authentic, everything else is here. Capture The Flag, Domination, Assault, and of course, the ever-popular Deathmatch. More would be nice--more new levels and more new characters. But the fact of the matter is that UT is such a brilliant and timeless effort, that a port with nothing added can hardly be called a disappointment. If you've never played it--what's wrong with you? Buy this now. If you have experienced UT ages ago on your PC, pick this disc up anyway, for the small change it will cost you. Because Unreal Tournament has always been a tour-de-force. And it still is.
Staff review by Marc Golding (March 31, 2008)
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