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Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year Edition (PC) artwork

Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year Edition (PC) review

"Does Unreal Tournament, widely considered as one of the best first-person shooters around (if not the best!), even need to be introduced? Hell, for many, UT is even much more than that (i.e. the best FPS around). When Unreal was released, it did what many games hoped to do, but almost always miserably failed. It caught gamers’ attention, and caused them to show interest in a genre they once ignored, or maybe even despised. I personally never cared for first-person shooters before that glo..."

Does Unreal Tournament, widely considered as one of the best first-person shooters around (if not the best!), even need to be introduced? Hell, for many, UT is even much more than that (i.e. the best FPS around). When Unreal was released, it did what many games hoped to do, but almost always miserably failed. It caught gamers’ attention, and caused them to show interest in a genre they once ignored, or maybe even despised. I personally never cared for first-person shooters before that gloomy afternoon when out of boredom, I joined a group of friends who, at that time, were already hardcore UT players. My intent was merely to waste some time on a game in which I had no skill, and to see if it was actually worth all the hype it received. I had heard about UT so much, and finally had to opportunity to see what it was all about.


The unreal part is that it will instantly shatter all your qualms. Had you any distaste for the genre, it will literally blow them away. Actually, UT is an egoist. It will thin down the genre to only one game, itself, and perhaps its siblings (for some reason, I personally don’t like UT2, but that may just be me). Play this game once, alone or with some friends (the latter being obviously better), and there’s an extremely high probability you will cave in to its sheer superiority over any other first-person shooter released.

Right off the bat, as in any other relatively new FPS it should be obvious the single-player mode is merely an icing on the delicious cake UT is and constitutes a very minor part in it. It’s good for practicing and knowing how the game works, it’s great for discovering all the things you can do and to get accustomed to the plethora of weapons available on each map, but it makes for approximately 15% of the game. Even then, I’m being overly generous, and that’s mainly because beating it will unlock Xan, someone whom you do not want to meet, even if you had a whole army under your control, as you find the bum single-handedly ripping through all your bots and gleefully destroying all your equipment.

Unreal Tournament entirely focuses on its awesome multiplayer mode, which, when it was introduced, shocked and appealed gamers from all over the world with its frantic atmosphere and sickening speed. Within days, clans were formed, as matches upon matches were organized to decide who was the ’ULTIMATE UT KILLER’. UT is above all a game geared towards groups of gamers.

And even then, the wide assortment of modes is more than enough to show how exciting the game can be.

Step alone.

Run around small or huge arenas, and fend off anybody you see with your rocket launcher or your shock rifle. DeathMatch is so enticing it’s not even funny. The large number of maps provided, the insane speed to which the game can be set, and the relative absence of lag even with a relatively large number of players makes it the most popular mode in the game. It’s one where thoughts are not required. Shoot as you run. Run like the wind. BOOM!

My Clan vs. Your Clan.

Should you decide to opt for some teamwork, it is possible to do so on the alternate version of deathmatch, Team DeathMatch. But let’s face it, the latter, while a good idea and worth breaking teeth on occasionally, isn’t really that fun and is usually more or less discarded in less time that it takes to shout ‘LOSER’. Thankfully, there’s the orgasmic Capture the Flag, which requires teammates to actually have some synchronization and strategy. Who will defend the base? Who will opt for the flag? And, more importantly, who will protect the one carrying the flag? So many decisions to take, so little time!

And there are other modes to enjoy, some of which many don’t even know exist. I have yet to mention one that keeps haunting me, Assault, which requires one team to perform some tasks while the opposing group defends the base. If the first team manages to successfully complete its missions, their positions are swapped. It’s a mode that asks for a hefty dose of strategy, as there’s a time limit to make things noticeably harder.

Unreal Tournament’s main asset is its unbelievable speed. While other titles drag along and thus render the action hardly appealing, UT runs on boiling adrenaline. It is even possible to increase that speed up to an unfathomable level although care must be taken that such a factor doesn’t come at the expense of others. The characters can jump, crouch, can shoot in the normal, regular way and even resort to an alternate shot for each weapon. Just join a match as a spectator, and you’ll be bewildered at how fast characters move around, jump from ledge to ledge, and stupidly enough, kill their own dumb selves, thereby decreasing their number of frags. Be amazed at Loque’s swiftness in turning around to face an opponent, and be equally dumbfounded by Barak’s marvelous handling of any weapon.

Of course, weapons play a preponderant role in such a game, and the arsenal provided makes the game very diversified in how you can approach it. The rocket launcher is as usual the big ol’ weapon that you’ll use to blow things up like a maniac – and I shouldn’t forget how it’s possible to fire more than one rockets at a time, thereby giving even less chances of escape to your stupid foe. The flak cannon, on the other hand, is the best close-range gun in the game, and will instantly kill your opponent when used right. Quickly run around him, and blast him into oblivion as he gets confused and momentarily loses his confidence (if he ever had any, that is).

Or better yet, grab a sniper rifle, zoom in to an unsuspecting ‘friend’ from a relatively safe spot, and kill him instantly with the ultimately rewarding headshot. In some areas, particularly when playing Capture The Flag (given the appropriate settings, obviously), it is even possible to rack up to 200 kills using just the sniper, as long as you have enough ammunition. I know I did. The excitement of having your name sprawled on each screen as in ‘SIEGFRIED IS ON A KILLING SPREE’ or ‘SIEGFRIED IS GODLIKE’ is only matched by phrases such as ‘ULTRA KILL’ or ‘M..M..M..M..M..M..MONSTER KILL’ as you use each and every weapon available to turn the game into a killing orgy.

Items, such as shields, can also be found to make your life somewhat easier. Among the most useful ones is the Invisibility item (its use should be obvious!) and the AntiGrav Boots, which will allow you to take yourself for Superman as you reach the stars, from where you can use the devastating Redeemer to blow a group of unsuspecting fools to pieces. Or better yet, use the Redeemer from upfront and kill yourself too. Actually, forget that last sentence (although it’s certain such a thing will happen more than once).

When UT was released, it received much appraisal for its graphics. Even now, there’s no denying UT is aesthetically pleasant. The characters are realistic (as far as humans are concerned anyway, since you do battle against aliens from time to time) with lifelike models, bulging muscles, and the animation is stunning. Only one word can be used to describe this game’s graphics: Masterpiece. Each bot in the game has his own characteristics, and the amount of details dedicated to each to make all of them look real is staggering. To make things even sweeter, they actually behave like the guy next door. They will dance around your corpse after killing you, taunt you with venomous quotes (more on that later!), and humiliate you on the harder difficulty settings.

The scenes themselves are extremely varied (given the number of maps you’re asked to complete in one-player mode, this shouldn’t be too surprising!) and portray various settings. You’ll jump from tower to tower while others struggle below you, and another background sees you running around like mad in a reactor. Watch out for the lava or acid pits though, as you’ll die if you foolishly try to swim in them. Similarly, a fall in a bottomless pit is not a very bright idea unless the idea of death doesn’t frighten you.

Unreal Tournament’s sound is another factor behind the game’s popularity. The music itself is actually standard fare, and most themes have a futuristic feel about them. Something unreal about the game is how it effortlessly makes the game poignant, gripping and exciting through its sound effects. Even more extraordinary is how each stage begins, when the sound of your heartbeat quickly blasts at you and an eerie sound trails off, leaving you in a puzzled and mildly worried state. Ambient noises are respected, such as that of your boots rattling against a steel stairway or a sudden gunshot, with your bullets lodging themselves in a muddy wall.

However, what I really like about the game is the voice-acting and more importantly, the phrases the characters never get tired of spewing. When I think of Unreal Tournament, the quotes used throughout it instantly overwhelm me. From memorable lines such as “Useless”, “You be dead!”, and my favorite line from any game, “Die, *****!” to other insults such as “You suck!” or Xan’s “Obsolete”, UT has an outlandish collection of taunts to meditate on. Shoot at a bot who is on your team, and he’ll respond with a sharp “I’m on your team, idiot!” The voices themselves are terrific, with the lines coming across sharp and clear, while their frequency keeps on increasing, as the game gets more gripping. Unreal Tournament is truthfully shocking as far as sound is concerned, and that’s why I like it so much!

Believe the hype, Unreal Tournament is without doubt what it’s made out to be, and so much more. It’s revered for its fast and gory multiplayer mode, but there are nevertheless many other aspects that aren’t mentioned that much and should. The graphics are impressive, with the characters exploding in surreal ways and heads rolling about at an alarming rate, the array of weapons is equally awesome, and you will never forget the ‘interesting’ lines eschewed by the characters. If you have not yet, you absolutely need to play this game. Buy it, and play online against other players or in a network because the first-player mode gets boring after a while (although the bots can be a real pain in the ass on the higher difficulty settings, and are thus motivating enough!). And, while you’re at it, do not forget to make full use of the single line that alone destroys other games’ scripts way too easily: ”Die, *****!”

siegfried's avatar
Community review by siegfried (December 18, 2003)

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