The Review Menu
Yellow Fade
Unreal Tournament
  5 stars

March 15, 1999
by Hylton Coxwell

SRP: $49.99

System Requirements: PowerPC 603e at 200MHz, 64MB RAM, Mac OS 7.6 or later, 120 MB HD space

Pros: well-designed levels, "mods" add a lot of variety to gameplay, improved weapons
Cons: few skins, lost productivity

    Fortunately devoid of storyline, Unreal Tournament focuses on one thing and one thing only: to create the most intense game of all time that pits combatants against computer-controlled bots or scores of human players via LAN or Internet.

Click to Enlarge    The single player game, which fundamentally is designed only to prepare players for matches against human combatants, challenges you to climb up the tournament ladder through 41 incredibly well-designed maps. Death Match, Capture the Flag, Domination, and Assault & Challenge game types are all seen at different points in the game. For the most part, the game's bots are more intelligent than in Unreal with the average difficulty level being sufficiently challenging for the majority of players, experienced or otherwise. For masochists or those with exceptional skill, several more challenging degrees of difficulty can also be selected. As with Quake 3 Arena, the bots will taunt your ability and moves, something that you'll soon grow bored of.

     The multiplayer game, of course, places you in similar environments but with human competition, which can either make things more or less challenging but also far more addicative, intense, and enjoyable.

     The game's interface, albeit slightly Windoze-like, is a vast improvement over the original. Setting up game preferences, bots and servers is a simple task that no longe requires editing any values in the .ini file.

Click to enlarge     Most of the weapons are improved version of the originals: the Shock Rifle, Rocket Launcher, Flak Cannon, GES Biorifle, Minigun, Ripper, and Sniper Rifle all make a comeback with style. Many now sport a very handy LED ammo counter so you can keep track of your munitions without diverting your attention as much. New on the scene is the Impact Hammer, dual Enforcers, Pulse Rifle, Chainsaw, and Redeemer. All of the weapon's feature dual-triggers, allowing for two kinds of firepower to be emitted from the weapon.

     The Enforcer is a your default weapon. Similar to the Automag in Unreal, it's basically a pistol, and a reasonably powerful one at that. If you frag someone who's using an Enforcer you can pick it up and weidl twice he firepower by using one in each hand.

     The Pulse Rifle fires small spheres of green plasma at a high rate, similar t othe Plasma Cannon in Quake 3 Arena. Its alternate trigger creates a continuous beam that you can use to cut your opponents down, although a side-effect of this beam is it makes it very easy for other players to pinpoint your location. A little like wearing a neon sign that says "Here I come!"

     The Redeemer is Unreal Tournament's answer to the Quake 3 Arena's BFG. I tend to kill myself as often as anyone else when firing this massive missile, although your results may vary. Its huge blast radius will send anyone in the general vicinity of the explosion flying. The optional fire lets you control the missile in-flight with the help of a camera mounted in its nose cone, a unique touch.

Click to enlarge     The Impact Hammer and Chainsaw are both close-combat weapons that aren't much good against a well-armed enemy, unless you managed to sneak up behind them. The Ripper, formerly the RazorJack, has done away with the next-to-useless option fire where you could curve your shots in favor of giving the blades a little more kick. The Shock Rifle, Rocket Launcher (formerly the 8-Ball), Minigun and Flak Cannon remain virtually unchanged and round out Unreal Tournament's well-balanced weapon selection.

     My hat goes off to Unreal Tournament's level designers, who have come up with an excelent variety of well-designed maps, which helps to make the game even more interesting. Not only do we have the typical indoor and outdoor environments, but underwater and low-gravity one as well. Whether your playing atop three 30-mile high skyscrapers or on a space station in a nauseating orbit around Mars, you can't help stopping for a moment to admire the scenery. Obviously, to fully enjoy the splendor, you'll need at least a Voodoo II or Rage 128 graphics card.

     Extending UT's gameplay beyond the standarrd are "mods." These modification files can affect almost any aspect of the game, from gravity to weapons and special items. A wide selection are included with UT, and many more are available for download. You can also apply combinations of mods for an even wider gameplay experience.

Click to enlarge     InstaGib equips all players with a deadlier version of the Shock Rifle that requires only one hit to kill, making for a very fast paced game of seek. The memorable Giants mod causes your charachter to get bigger after each frag, and if you get killed you get smaller. After a half-dozen kills or deaths, you're either so big that it's difficult to fit into areas of the map or so small that you'll appear to be a walking gun to other players. Relics places various artifacts around the map that once picked up by a player will impart mysterious powers onto the carrier. Your strength or speed maybe increased, or a supernatural force may avenge your death by obliterating anyone who kills you (and anyone else nearby the subsequent explosion). Many other mods are also included with Unreal Tournament, along with several new and additional maps.

The Last Word

     Unreal Tournament is a phenomenal game with exceptional graphics ,design, and multiplayer gameplayer gameplay. Quake fans will argue that Arena is better, while Unreal devotees will only touch Tournament. Those few who can appreciatie both get the best of both worlds, and plenty of end up with more lost time than they might like to admit. tr