|FIMP: Unreal Tournament 2003 [PC]|
Some years later, I found out that Unreal Championship would be coming out for the Xbox, and the Xbox alone. My PC-bred hands cried bloody murder. Would I be reduced to playing a CONSOLE version of Unreal multiplayer, cramping my hands on a console-style controller? Fortunately for me, Epic revealed that a similar game, Unreal Tournament 2003 would be released on PC and geared towards that audience accordingly.
And now, the day of reckoning has passed: the free demo download. Pardon me while I interrupt this FIMP to cry tears of joy.
Ahem. That's enough for now. Let's get into the gameplay, shall we? Booting up the game for the first time, my initial reaction was the same as when I saw Soul Calibur 2 for the first time: almost the same game wrapped in a more voluptuous body. For the most part, this isn't much of a problem, since Unreal Tournament was -- in my opinion -- a fantastic game. However, what justifies us putting more time in this sequel?
The most obvious thing has got to be the weapon selection. The ASMD shock rifle, Bio-rifle, rocket launcher, and minigun are back. As this was a demo, I didn't have access to all the weapons, but the Redeemer is slated to make a return as well. Among the new goodies available in the demo are: the lightning gun, which seems to be essentially a sniper rifle whose bolts of electricity branch off of surfaces, second function being zoom-in; an assault rifle, which takes place of the former default weapon (Enforcer pistols), second function being grenade launcher; and a new InstaGib shock rifle, which gives the user the bliss that is zoom-in for those pesky, erm, instagib-bolt-dodgers. Lord knows what this "Ion-painter" does, but it sounds damned scary.
Alterations to the existing weaponry include the Rocket Launcher, which no longer shoots grenades and can only fire up to 3 rockets at a time via right mouse button. The minigun also has a spin-up and spin-down time, but seems even more powerful when you connect.
Because I've only flirted with Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, I'm going to go more in-depth regarding Bombing Run -- or Unreal Football, as I like to call it. Basically, you start with a "bomb" in the middle of the level. You have to rush to the bomb, pick it up, and run it to your enemy's "goal" and score, at which point the bomb will be reset and the teams will be thrown back to respawning points.
Scoring is done by either double-jumping through the goal for a 7 point "touchdown" or by shooting the bomb through the goal for a 3 point "field goal." The trade-off, at least in the demo stage, is that when you jump through the portal, you fall into a network of lasers, thus committing suicide. So you have to ask yourself if it's more important to your teammates to score 4 more points, or to keep any hard-earned weapons and armor you've collected so that you can be a greater asset to them in the next round. That's why I like to play InstaGib -- one-hit kills makes it more essential for you to have blockers in front of and behind you, and also lets you score touchdowns with no remorse regarding your weapons arsenal (since you only have the shock rifle).
Bombing Run is addictive and fun -- to me, more so than CTF on CTF-Face (gasp!). Since only one team can have possession of the bomb at any time, there's a bit more tension. In addition, you have to head INTO enemy territory to score, making the trip more difficult the closer you get to your goal rather than the opposite.
As for gameplay, it feels a bit smoother, and for some reason ends up running as well as if not better on some systems than its prequel. For example, I tested it on my friend's machine, which sports a PIII 450 with 384MB of SDRAM, and a GeForce 3 Ti500. While the benchmarks only spat out numbers of 45 on the flyby and 18 on the botmatch, a session of Bombing Run ran nicely. It never dipped into unplayable framerates, and simply eyeballing it, I would say the lowest it got was 24 frames per. The AnTiPoDe's machine, an AMD T-bird 800MHz, 512MB of SDRAM, and a GeForce2 GTS (32MB DDR), ran benchmarks of 61 flyby and 18 botmatch, but in-game performance was eyeballed at around 30 to 40. (To benchmark your system, check out ..\UT2003\system\benchmark.exe)
UT 2003's visuals are beautiful. Textures are much crisper and arenas are just simply more colorful. Geometry is also much smoother, with less angles and more curves. The sound is also great, with the usual explosions returning and huskier character voices. The only issue I have is with the new announcer -- he sounds like he came out of a sportscasting booth.
All in all, UT 2003 looks like it's more than worth a purchase, and I can't wait until it finally gets released. Until then, I'll be playing Bombing Run until my eyes bleed.
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