|Platforms:||PC, Mac, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, Linux|
|Developer:||Epic Games / Digital Extremes|
|Genres:||3D Shooter / First-Person Shooter|
|Release Date:||November 30, 1999|
|Game Modes:||Singleplayer / Multiplayer|
Shooting your friends online was never this much fun.
Capitalizing on the growing popularity of the online gaming community, Epic set forth to create what would become Unreal Tournament, an FPS geared towards online combat. This multiplayer action game spelled out what an online fragfest is all about – explosive action, balanced weaponry, dynamic teamplay, cool levels and a terrific artificial intelligence.
Unreal Tournament (UT99) is a sequel to Epic’s Unreal, a technically imposing FPS from 1998 that served to lay the ground works for this game. UT is powered by an enhanced Unreal Engine, one that looks better, is more stable and allows for a greater amount of third party customization. This game is alive and kicking thanks to it’s huge fanbase turning in countless maps and mods even today. Best of all, UT still supports out-of-the-box online action – simply start the game, find a suitable server, connect (the program downloads all necessary third-party files) and start playing against other people.
UT isn’t solely centered on online gaming of course. There’s a solo campaign and practice modes, both played against bots. In campaign mode you work down the arena ladder and play against increasingly tougher opponents, while practice lets you play whatever you want at any time. You have many map types on offer in both modes – Deathmatch (DM), Capture the Flag (CTF), Domination (DOM), and Assault (AS).
DM and CTF, while very fun, will be familiar to all, but Domination (DOM) is the first truly original game mode in UT. Several teams make or break to control three strategically placed points on the map, leading to some hectic gameplay. But the most entertaining mode overall are the scripted Assault (AS) maps – here you must attack heavily fortified positions and accomplish specific objectives (pull this switch, open that gate) while the opposing team scrambles defensively. Accomplish the mission in good time and roles are reversed, placing your team as the defender and the other as the attacker. One map involves storming a beach under heavy fire and artillery, while in another you sneak aboard an underwater submarine. Great stuff.
Again, all of this would be half as fun if the game didn’t provide out-of-the-box bot support with killer AI. Never before were bots this lifelike. They not only make reliable team-mates, but competent enemies as well. They dodge rockets like pros on the higher difficulties, but you can still sneak up behind them and they won’t magically know you’re there. They’ll try to predict your direction with their rocket shots, but switch to a lighter weapon if you get in their face to avoid splash damage. They organize concentrated attacks on your base, then retreat after taking heavy losses.
AI difficulty levels come in many shapes and sizes, and – like the rest of the game- can be customized in full. You can adjust individual bot aggressiveness or passivity, their preferred weapon or willingness to follow orders. You can also manage their outward appearance and names, and of course team membership if you feel like setting yourself up against an army of bots.
The weapons received a superb makeover from their Unreal days. Most of the old artillery has been modified to look, sound and shoot better – from the oversized Enforcer handgun to the deadly Rocket Launcher or sleek Ripper. All of the weapons have their pros, cons and specific uses, though the undying Flak Cannon usually rules the roost in most arenas thanks to its unyielding punch. The Sniper Rifle wins at insane distances while the Redeemer will straight out cause a mini nuclear explosion that turns every living being into dust.
Each weapon has an alternate fire mode, and these modes are naturally great fun. The shock rifle combo (shoot an alt-fire ball of energy and then hit it in mid-air with a primary fire blast) makes its return from the original Unreal with the expected volatile results. The secondary function for the sniper rifle zooms smoothly between 1x to 8x for those brutal head shots. The Rocket Launcher also functions as a Grenade Launcher on the side, while the aforementioned Redeemer lets you navigate the rocket manually with its alt-fire.
Unreal Tournament blows the competition out of the water with its excellent gameplay, which includes its superb bot support, virtually infinite customization and flawless weapon balancing, not to mention UT’s gorgeous graphics and sharp sounds. It’s the fine wine of multiplayer mayhem, and it’s here to stay.
System Requirements: Pentium 200 Mhz, 32 MB RAM, 8 MB Video, Win95/98
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