Unreal Tournament 2003
After the rather lacklustre title that was Unreal, gamers awaited the arrival of Quake 3 with much anticipation. Of course Quake 3 was expected to clean up when it came to multiplayer gaming and it came as one hell of a shock when Unreal Tournament was released and made Quake 3 look positively primitive. Of course deathmatch fans claimed that ID's offering was still the ultimate deathmatch experience and they were probably right but they could not deny the fact that Unreal Tournament had superb variation when it came to gameplay modes and actually had sophisticated AI bots too. The sheer amount of gameplay that was packed into Unreal Tournament was astounding and even today it still looks very impressive.
So the sequel to this multiplayer extravaganza is finally here and it's going to have to be very impressive to match it's prequel. If you're into PC graphics hardware you'll be aware that the demos for UT2003 have been used as the yardstick for new PC graphics cards for about the last 4 or 5 months and with good reason too. The graphics look simply amazing and represent the current benchmark in PC games. Of course there are few gamers who are going to have the hardware to be able run the game at the highest resolutions with maximum details but fear not, as even with the details on the medium setting the game still looks great and way ahead of most games out there at the moment.
If you haven't played the game yet you'll be wondering what the sequel has over the original Unreal Tournament apart from the graphics. Well in all honesty the game isn't the jump some where expecting. The game still offers the same addictive challenge and still has the superb AI bots to battle against whilst you're off-line but in terms of game modes etc., the game offers few surprises.
Rather disappointingly there are only five combat types. To begin with there's the old favourite, Deathmatch which (in case you didn't know, which I seriously doubt) is a complete free for all; an everyone for themselves affair. Team Deathmatch is much the same except for the fact that you're now in teams rather than being on your own. Capture The Flag is another team game (which again has been around seemingly forever) in which you have to grab the other teams flag and take it back to your base whilst preventing your opponents from doing the same. Double Domination revolves around capturing a control point and keeping it for 10 seconds to score. There are 2 control points to capture in Double Domination. By far the best game on offer is Bombing Run. Bombing Run is another team game which sees the teams battling to gain control of a ball and attempting to shoot the ball into the other teams goal. The player who has the ball is unable to fire their weapon and relies on their team-mates to defend them which makes for some excellent multiplayer gaming.
The single player side of the game is very similar to the one seen in Unreal Tournament where you get accustomed to each of the game types and progress through ever increasingly difficult challenges. Of course it isn't going to last long but by the time you've defeated all of the difficulty levels, you're ready to mix it with the finest human opposition on the Internet.
In terms of it's suitability for deaf gamers, UT2003 is kind of a mixed bag. The cutscenes, announcers comments and taunts etc. are not subtitled and this is disappointing to say the least. Information key to the game you are playing is shown on the screen in text which is useful and it makes it all the more difficult to see why everything wasn't subtitled. The good news for deaf gamers is that the game does not feature voice communication therefore communication in multiplayer games is done through text which is great. Of course pressing the V key brings up a dialogue menu, exactly the same way as in Unreal Tournament, so if you don't want to type, this will allow you to communicate quickly. What is a nice touch is the way in which you can check which direction your base (or enemies) is located. By the N and M keys a surge of smoke in the appropriate team colours will head off from your location towards the appropriate base. This is a simple inclusion but stops you becoming disorientated.
As we mentioned earlier the game is nothing short of staggering in terms of graphics. We've reviewed the game on an Athlon XP 2000+ using a GeForce4 Ti4200 and at the default settings, which look great, the game flew along at very nice pace indeed (we used a resolution of 1024x768). However as we began to turn up the details the game not only looked incredible but the framerate began to seriously nosedive. It is fair to say that UT2003 is going to make CPUs and GPUs sweat for the foreseeable future. It is also a credit to the developers that the immense detail can be scaled to suit most PCs.
Unreal Tournament 2003 is perhaps not what fans of the original were expecting. I personally expected a lot more combat types and more innovation but at the end of the day it still plays excellently and is enjoyable too. If only the gameplay could match the excellence of the visuals we truly would have the multiplayer FPS of all time.
Overall Game Rating: 8.3/10 Visually excellent but in every other way there is no real improvement.
Deaf Gamers comment: Disappointing to see that all verbal comments are not subtitled.