Unreal Tournament 2003
Score: 7.0 / 10
Tournament 2003 joins the ranks of technology-driven titles that
repackage core gameplay values with updated visual content. There's
nothing terribly new about this first person deathmatch, but cynicisms
aside, it's still a lot of fun.
as the "bloodiest sport in the galaxy", the Unreal Tournament
is a gladiatorial contest of the future. Opposing teams are equipped
with weapons and let loose in expansive environments to obtain as many
kills (frags) as possible.
selecting a team from a colorful pool of hard-bitten mercenaries,
sinister aliens and cyborg athletes, youíre required to lead them to
victory with opportunities to trade or draft new players along the way.
each of the four Tournament ladders involves mastering the four
different play styles. These include the traditional Team Deathmatch and
Capture the Flag modes along with Double Domination (where points are
scored by controlling two checkpoints for a certain period of time) and
Itís the latter that proves the most interesting (think of it as football
requiring a ball at the center of the map to be carried
through a goal in the opposition's territory. Since a player cannot fire
his/her weapon while holding the ball, victory requires intense
co-ordination and communication between members. Fortunately, the bot AI
is competent enough to make this work and with eight levels of
difficulty, there's a challenge for both beginners and veterans alike.
focus on teamwork is aided somewhat by the massiveness of the levels.
Theyíre also more ďopenĒ, making it easier to surround and kill
solitary members: to survive, one must hunt in packs. Resultantly,
combat tends to be looser and more forgiving with furious corridor duels
replaced by lumbering charges across open ground.
the art direction tends to dwell on the boring metal catwalks and steel
grating of science fiction. With the graphical potential that comes with
new technology, I would have preferred more interesting locations.
the few outdoor maps it does provide are excellent. In particular, the
grassy Raia Antalus and Bifrost Bases, a marvellous expanse of
snow-encrusted hills. And while they're not as cunningly crafted as
Quake 3ís labyrinthine arenas, their immense scale produces some
splendid moments. Falling through the mists of the low-gravity Tokara
Forest while loosing rockets on enemies several hundred metres below is
original weapons from UT make a return with slight adjustments. The
Assault Rifle remains the standard weapon and is equipped with a grenade
launcher. The Pulse Rifle of UT, reborn as the Link Gun, is able to spew
forth a stream of energy that can be linked to a team-matesí Link Gun
for increased damage. Instagib players will feel at home with the new
Lightning Gun. The Translocator is particularly useful in modes like
Capture the Flag since it allows the wielder to teleport past enemies
who are blocking your way. Also returning are the Shock Rifle,
Bio-Rifle, Flak Cannon (with bouncing ammunition) and Minigun
(self-explanatory). With a secondary fire mode available, youíre never
short of ways to kill opposing players.
for sheer playability, UT2003 canít match the ruthlessly refined
physics of Quake 3. The Dodge feature, where double-tapping the strafe
keys produces an evasive jump sideways, is finicky and rarely used. And
the visuals, while technically impressive, lack the artistic depth and
character of Q3ís Temple of Retribution or Brimstone Abbey.
questionable inclusion is Adrenaline. If enough Adrenaline pills are
collected, youíre able to perform keyboard combinations, which give
bonuses: Speed, Berserk, Invisibility, Defense, over a certain period of
time. For example, pressing forward four times would invoke the Speed
boost. It struck me as a hasty and incongruous addition, which I ignored
for the entirety of the game.
sound effects are of a high quality but the WWF-style commentary will
undoubtedly annoy some players. And the visuals, while technically
impressive, lack the artistic depth and character of Q3ís Temple of
Retribution or Brimstone Abbey.
expect the eye candy to last online either. The multiplayer client does
an excellent, hassle-free job of locating online matches, but the
graphical lavishness of the game becomes a hindrance. On my 56K modem,
detail levels had to be decreased considerably to avoid stutters and
But these small issues wonít concern casual gamers who will undoubtedly be having the most fun here. With bigger guns and even bigger levels, Unreal Tournament 2003 seems to say: size does matter. At least until the next one comes along.
- Justin Liew
(November 29, 2002)
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