Summary: Wondering whether or not you should download this 100MB behemoth? Looking for some opinions first, and perhaps over 80 screenshots backing up those opinions? Look no further! Come in and check out the UT2K3 demo review.
Been a while
Has it been this long? It was December 1999 when the clash of the titans occurred. Epic released Unreal Tournament and id unleashed Quake III Arena on the unwashed masses. Both were hyped, both were excellent games (scoring a very close 4 and 4.5 respectively), yet ironically both were left behind in the dust by a mod, Counter-Strike. Depending on the biases and preferences of gamers involved, either could dominate a LAN party. Most hardcore players clung to Quake III for their fun, preferring good old deathmatch, CTF or team deathmatch. People looking for more varied game styles and a more visceral experience liked UT. To this very day, the games are fighting it out tooth and nail for second place (while being vastly overshadowed by that behemoth Half-Life and its mods.)
What remains the same
Very little is outright removed, added to or replaced in the game from what we can see in the demo. Obviously the maps are different but the core of the game remains the same basic template. Movement, physics, weapons and feel have been tweaked by this is still recognizably UT.
Take as an example the weapons. The Flak Cannon, Bio Gun, Rocket Launcher, Shock Rifle, Sniper Rifle and Redeemer are still there. The Plasma Gun is as well, though under a different name now – Link Gun. All of these have the same or similar fire and alternate modes, though modified for balance. The Link Gun has a much greater range with its ‘shaft’ of plasma, the Rocket Launcher has two modes taken out of it. Where previously one could fire single rockets or single pipe bombs (for lack of a better term) or up to six of each by holding down the button, now the Rocket Launcher fires a single rocket with the left button and loads up multiple ones with the right button.
SIDEBAR: Unreal Tournament was a guilty pleasure of mine for a while. Since most of my real-life friends couldn’t get into Quake 3, I picked up UT for the sole purpose of humiliating them there. The one time we played Q3A at a LAN party, it turned into a 6 vs 1 massacre. Poor guys didn’t stand a chance ^.^
Weapons and items
The changes to the weapons are the easiest to document. There are no more pistols (sorry kids, no John Woo twin gangsta shooters), they’ve been replaced by a more potent starting weapon, the assault rifle. Similar to the machine gun from Q3A, it does slightly less damage per hit but its alternate fire is the devastating grenade.
Armor is a thing of the past, all damage is now deducted from your health or shield if you manage to get it. The amount of damage any given weapon does to health is lower relative to what it used to in UT, but the damage relative to Unreal Tournament’s armor and health is actually higher. People die quicker than they used to.
Speed, movement, physics
Judging by the demo, Unreal Tournament 2003 is the fastest game since Quake 1. Characters move at lightning speeds compared to their counterparts in other shooters. Action is furious, lining up a shot from any of the rifles requires cat-like reflexes and would be damn near impossible in close combat if the models weren’t bulky.
Jumping, for you NetQuake addicts, doesn’t include a whole lot of air control. Face it people, air control and lag management just do not go hand in hand. The limited air control resembles Quake II more than anything, but with the utter speed of UT2003, it is very hard to notice. Footsteps are present but not overbearing, the loudest sounds are made by jumping grunts, followed by weapon pickups.
Unreal Tournament introduces “adrenaline”, which you gain by making frags or picking up pills off the ground. Certain keystroke combinations will unleash abilities like berserk and invisibility. CliffyB explains this better at the bottom of the NVidia interview.
Nvidia: Stuff like going Berserk on Adrenaline?
SIDEBAR: It has been a long time since I played Unreal Tournament. Not since the Game of the Year edition.
The demo offers:
Naturally, deathmatch comes with the demo and works very well. The speed of the game makes for an exciting match, the maps are quite well suited to FFA and though item respawns are rather rapid, limited map control in 1v1 wouldn’t be out of the question at least on DM-Antalus. DM-Asbestos is a rather large affair that reminds me of one of the original Quake II deathmatch maps. It is large, useless for 1v1 but good for team deathmatch or a FFA melee.
"Bling bling." Unreal Tournament 2003 has so much candy it will create an economic boom for the optical corrections industry. Animations are just ridiculously smooth and fluid despite being plotted out on unnaturally large bodies. The characters in the game might look suspiciously like Warhammer 40k Space Marines, but their bulk can’t overshadow the detail placed on the actual models and textures. According to CliffyB there are more triangles on a door in UT2K3 than there were in an entire scene in UT - and we believe him! Hardware T&L is paying off. Quite honestly, the terms to describe the artwork have not been invented, so we’ll let the screenshots speak for themselves.
Unreal Tournament 2003 is a definite download, even if you are a jaded FPS player. Can be a breath of fresh air for those who have been playing realistic Counter-Strike style games for years. The adrenaline rush of running around at warp speed with a totally unrealistic weapon never quite seems to go away. Click and enjoy.
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