Unreal Tournament 2004 PC DVD-ROM Official Website
Developed by Epic Games
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99
The original Unreal Tournament gave online gaming the much needed shot in the arm it needed. Instead of being simply a deathmatch experience it had masses of variety and it also had some great AI bots for those of us who needed to improve our technique before going online. I usually shy away from online FPS games but I have to admit I've played more than my fair share of Unreal Tournament online games over the years. I was expecting big things then when Unreal Tournament 2003 surfaced. However it didn't turn out that way and apart from being graphically superior to the original Unreal Tournament it just didn't have the same magic and I played the game for nowhere as long as I had with Unreal Tournament. Can Unreal Tournament 2004 rekindle my interest?
You've probably noticed from the top of the review that our copy of Unreal Tournament is the DVD-ROM version. If you don't have a DVD-ROM drive the game is also available on 6 CD-ROMs, so you'll still be able to play. Mercifully though we were sent the DVD-ROM version because the game installation is a whopping 5.2GB and I appreciated the fact I could go and get a drink whilst the game installed. You're probably wandering why the installation is so big? Well the whole of Unreal Tournament 2003 is here and in addition the new content takes up more space than the UT2003 data. In total there are an incredible 100+ levels in the game and when the graphical detail is as impressive as it is in UT2004 then it's going to take up a lot of space. Believe me though the quality of the game is well worth it.
So what's new then? Well it's difficult where to start really. There is a redesigned Assault mode (making a welcome return from the original Unreal Tournament), an Onslaught mode, vehicles, new weapons, new characters, a ton of new maps/levels, a better user interface and of course a new editor. As an overall package it's simply superb and in my opinion it's even surpassed the original Unreal Tournament which is saying a heck of a lot. The real stand out additions in UT2004 though are the redesigned Assault mode and Onslaught mode. You may remember that Assault was a game where one team defended a base whilst the others attacked. It may seem a simple concept but it's highly addictive. The Assault mode in UT2004 is a true classic and although there are only a handful of levels for the mode they are all top drawer material and will be a firm favourite online. Onslaught mode throws vehicular combat into the mix and again is a mode that has been very well done. Some of the vehicles on offer are Goliath (a kind of tank), Hellbender (an heavily armoured vehicle), a hover bike called Manta, which is not that different from the ones found in Halo and the Skaarj Spacefighter. There are actually many more but as with a lot of aspects of UT2004 if I were to mention everything we'd be here forever because it's just so choc full of content.
As with other Unreal Tournament games the main focus is online play but there is a good single player component to the game that begins with basic tutorials and then goes on to team play, which progresses through the different game modes on offer. If you haven't played any of the previous Unreal Tournament games this is the best place to start because unlike the AI bots in other games, the Unreal Tournament bots can handle themselves and play a mean game that will take you to a good standard in readiness for online play. Speaking of which the online play is simply superb. There is such a balance about the game that you always feel that you have a chance. There are 10 different modes (Assault, Onslaught, Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, Double Domination, Bombing Run, Mutant, Invasion and Last Man Standing) and no matter what your taste you're going to find a mode amongst this lot that will have you addicted. A broadband connection is recommended though for a smooth experience but if any game was worth getting broadband for it's certainly this one.
What can you say about the graphics that hasn't been said already. The game looks superb and it's easily one of the best looking games to date on the PC. New character models and of course vehicles have been added to the game and all of these look great. The quality of the multitude of maps on offer is also superb. The game doesn't need a very high specification graphics card either although if you want to turn the details to the higher settings and play at the higher resolutions then you will definitely want either a top end Radeon or GeForce card to help run the game as smoothly as possible. Thankfully though there are a lot of graphical options that can be configured and it's easily possible to run the game on what's considered to be a mid to low level PC by compromising on certain details and effects.
UT2004 is OK for deaf gamers but it wouldn't be correct to say it's completely deaf gamer friendly. However, for almost every part of the game there are tutorials. These tutorials are not fully subtitled and the information that appears in text can be regarded as an abridged version of what's actually spoken. This isn't as bad as it may seem as what appears in text is the essential information. Don't get me wrong it's still not right that every single word isn't subtitled but at least you're not missing any important instructional information. During the various games it's a similar story as not everything is shown in text but all important information is. Hearing gamers will have the benefit of voice communication but deaf gamers can use the tried and tested command menu (using the V key and then the relevant number keys) to issue orders and taunts. You can even bind certain messages, taunts and orders to keys of your own choosing, which is brilliant. That said it's not going to be as quick as voice communication but at least it's an efficient method of communication.
Unreal Tournament 2003 may have been a slightly disappointing follow up to Unreal Tournament but Unreal Tournament 2004 is easily the best in the series to date and it captures all the old magic which Unreal Tournament 2003 didn't have. Some will comment that the single player game is perhaps a little shallow but as a training tool it's very impressive and the AI bots will test most gamers out there. Online play is where it's at though and Unreal Tournament 2004 has to be considered one of the finest multiplayer FPS games to date. The amount of game play modes, the amount of quality maps and the highly addictive game play provides an irresistible mix. You'll also be pleased to know that you can even get a £7.50 refund (thanks to an included voucher) if you had previously bought Unreal Tournament 2003 and this further increases the value of a game that already offers outstanding value for money. The developers have obviously taken notice of all the successful online games, captured their essence and rolled it into the Unreal Tournament formula to give us a game that's simply outstanding.
Game Rating: 9.2/10
Online FPS gaming has a new champion and that champion is Unreal Tournament 2004.
There are some details missing but overall it's still an excellent experience.