Unreal Tournament is a glowing, shining beacon in a sea of multi-player games. Beckoning wayward gamers from abroad, Unreal Tournament promises much more than just an eye candy experience.
Unreal Tournament's visuals are second to none. Using a modified version of the Unreal engine, the game is smoother and slicker than a sheet of ice. While the texture definition is not as precise as with competitor Quake III Arena, the levels are still eye pleasing. The characters, special effects, weapons and game lighting have all been expertly crafted to bring a visual experience that rises above the competition. The sparse selection of player models is about the only gripe I have about the graphics in Unreal Tournament.
While Unreal Tournament is a stunning game for the multi-player enthusiast, concerns were raised when the game was created about its "offline" appeal. For those wishing to play single player, this game most certainly does not disappoint. The difficulty levels of 'bots, computer opponents who simulate the people you play online, can be toggled to meet your current skill level and to help train yourself for bigger and better challenges. Before you play online, I suggest playing with some 'bots to get the feel for how you move, how opponents move and how your weapons work.
I found the control to be easily configurable to tailor my personal first person shooter preferences. One of my favorite control options was the jump to the left or right my character would do when I'd tap the "strafe right" or "strafe left" key twice. Many a time I narrowly avoided a hallway of inbound rockets with this simple, yet effective, maneuver. For control, I used just mouse and keyboard and found it to be quite effective.
What fantastic level design! It is impeccable and superb. The quality (or lack thereof) of levels in a game, especially a first-person shooter, can really either make or break the game. Unreal Tournament's level design keeps your gaming experience a pulse-pounding, on-the-edge-of-your-seat event. "Spawn" areas near some popular camping spots dissuade "campers" and keep you on your toes. Even a recently spawned enemy armed only with the machine gun can be an admirable foe when your back is turned and you're sniping away.
What really has Unreal Tournament out of the gate ahead of competitors is the large myriad of options available for online play. Sure, you can still have that good old "gib-fest" but you aren't limited to it. Different game types in Unreal Tournament include Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Domination and Assault.
Deathmatch is fairly self-explanatory. Either you fight with a team against another team or fight against everyone. The goal? Kill, that's it. However, Unreal Tournament goes beyond the mundane deathmatches of the past. Weapon-specific matches can be set up (flak arena, pulse arena, rocket launcher arena, shock arena, chainsaw melee and sniper arena) and other fantastically inventive options exist in the game.
Options include InstaGib, reminiscent of Golden Gun mode in GoldenEye 007 where every shot kills, JumpMatch, which grants everyone GravBoots that stay on forever, Low Gravity (self-explanatory), No Powerups and Stealth Mode where all players are invisible.
Capture the Flag is just that. Big guns, big bases and big excitement await in this team-based mode. Each team has a flag and the goal is to steal the enemy flag and return it to your base. The catch? Your flag must be in your base to score. This version of Capture the Flag first made its rounds in a Quake mod and has grown by leaps and bounds in Unreal Tournament. Fun, challenging and fast-paced, it's hard to get tired of Capture the Flag.
Domination, unfortunately, does not involve women clad in tight leather outfits wielding whips and chains. Rather, there are symbols throughout the level that you must capture by touching them and then hold. Players of the multi-player game Starsiege Tribes will remember this style. For every second you hold the symbol, you are awarded points. The round ends when a certain amount of points has been reached. Frustration, strategy and teamwork are all elements of Domination.
The final mode is Assault. Quite possibly one of the most addictive gaming modes of Unreal Tournament, teams rally against each other to finish certain goals faster. One team sets out to accomplish preset goals while the other team tries to stall their progress. Once the goals have all been finished, the teams switch roles and the other team tries to accomplish the goals faster than the first team. Assault will make an insomniac out of you. I guarantee it.
For your buck, Unreal Tournament performs better than a shoe-polishing monkey who can sing like Frank Sinatra in German. If you call yourself a fan of the first person shooter genre or multi-player gaming and don't have this title, you should reconsider who you are as a gamer (or pick it up!). Personally, Unreal Tournament ranks highly on my "favorite games of all time" chart.
Graphics: Level design, lighting, characters, weapon effects and special effects are the stuff dreams are made of. Unreal Tournament looks amazing.
Sound: Even better than the graphics? The sound! It is incredibly difficult to describe the aural pleasure derived from music, weapon sounds and the game itself. You really have to hear it to understand.
Enjoyment: I love Unreal Tournament. What more can I say?
Replay Value: Online means every game is different. With the choices of modes as well, you'll never play the same game twice.
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