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Epic Games / Digital Extremes



M (Mature)



Q4 2002



- Beauty game

- Solid assortment of levels and game types

- Good bot challenge



- Adrenaline moves don't really affect gameplay

- Doesn't quite match Quake 3 Arena



Review: Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza (PC)

Review: Halo (XBox)



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Unreal Tournament 2003

Score: 7.0 / 10


Unreal 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.  


unreal-tournament-2003-1.jpg (9724 bytes)         unreal-tournament-2003-2.jpg (10853 bytes)


Described 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.


After 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.





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Climbing 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 Bombing Run.


Itís the latter that proves the most interesting (think of it as football 


with guns), 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.


This 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.


Disappointingly, 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.


Still, 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 a joy.


The 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.


Yet 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.  


unreal-tournament-2003-3.jpg (9823 bytes)          unreal-tournament-2003-4.jpg (8097 bytes)


Another 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.


The 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.


Donít 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 lost frames.


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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