Review Unreal Tournament 2003

Electronic Punk

Staff member
Political Access
2 Dec 2001
Well I could start by saying this is how it looked when I took it out of it's packaging and spilled it across my desk, take a quick picture of everything and show it below:

The DVD box contained a nice invitation to register as well as a multi language manual. The three CDs were stored on the same spindle, although setup states to check the back of the CD case for the CD key that would be a little daft here in the UK now all games are released in DVD cases, therefore the CD key can be found on the back of the game's manual. On the back it states "The Legend Has Returned" and offers the usual information along with the minimum specifications, but I will go into more detail about those later.

Lovely eh? Well I'm not going to do that so don't worry. I am going to talk about my first experience with Unreal when I was about thirteen (Sounds dirty doesn't it?). I managed to get my hands on a beta about a year before the original Unreal was released. It may have been illegal but for the excruciating nine meg download I got a small map the equivalent size of a public toilet, a cheesy soundtrack, no monsters or weapons. Needless to say it didn't keep me occupied for long and soon I was doing whatever else I did at that age.

This all occurred in the USA when I was living down in Alabama and by the time the game was released I had moved back to the UK. 1998 happened, then suddenly Unreal was released after many years of development. Off I went down to game, bought the game, got the free T-shirts and ran home to give it a look. It was given mixed reactions by reviewers - basically this game was ahead of it's time. It almost ran on PowerVR and when it was eventually released, the OpenGL wrapper for the Matrox Mystique G200. The game had it's PRO's and CON's but graphically it was spectacular (perhaps not by today's standards- I had a quick dabble the other day!). One official and horrible add-on later, Return to Napali - but I think the less said about that the better.

Two years later, Unreal Tournament was unleashed, gone was the single player campaign replaced with the equivalent of an offline online experiencing using bots by the legendary Steve Polge. He did the bots in Unreal too, but I am on the next section already... Steve was responsible for the ReaperBot for Quake which were incredible fun, but before I move off on an incredible tangent I am going to finish this sentence. Unreal Tournament was originally released as a 3DFX only demo, but thanks to some magical wrapper I was able to emulate this mode in OpenGL using my Riva TNT. This game had everything that Unreal didn't in terms of multiplayer and is still highly popular today. But like frozen steaks in the freezer (damn that food poisoning) they still grow old. It needed an update, something that would once again push the boundaries of what defines the first person shooter.

Working with your teammates is very important in the various game types.The outside arenas are just as incredible as the inside ones.

Cue the new and continually updated Unreal Engine, our first public and official look at this game was the game of the American Army, at first I was very impressed, but before writing this review I had another quick look at it, and hello? you have an awesome engine here why don't you use it! Our next glimpse was very recently with the official demo (I am going to disregard any beta leaks as Epic didn't want people to see them, so why should I even consider them!) This time the demo had the nVidia logo plastered everywhere (as did America's Army come to mention it). This demo gave everyone a glimpse of UT2003 with some of the higher textures missing. Offering two deathmatch maps, one capture the flag map and a map from the new and highly entertaining Bombing Run. The demo took me a good seven hours to download and I wouldn't be surprised if I was one of the first people to get the game on such an esteemed connection speed. I spent hours sat in #ut2003 on waiting for word. I think I can say it was worth it!

This relatively small demo really left me wanting more, so I set my alarm for a painful 12:00, got up watched the lunchtime news and set off into town. As I am left a little short on cash at the moment, I found myself selling a few old games and DVDs to get myself to the target that those nice people down at Game had set for me. A respectable £24.99 (which works out at around $37) although I didn't receive a free T-shirt this time, they did give a 50% discount on the official strategy guide, I can't say I made that purchase though as I had already ripped through the packaging and was halfway home.

I felt obliged to complete the game before even attempting to review it so I had a go on 'Experienced' I will take my time over the higher skills and my only experience of this game online is via the demo, but I think the netcode is pretty similar and like I said before I am on dial up as BT don't feel obliged to "plug me in".

So anyway, the review. The install was very easy and at the moment the it is taking up a modest 2.4 gigabytes on my hard drive. But before we get down to it, I feel its only fair to dish out the next set of screenshots (Click on them to see them at their original size). All of the screenshots in this review were captured at 1024x768 using the maximum graphics settings on my AMD Athlon 1700+ with 512 megabytes of PC-133 SDRAM:

A capture the flag game showing off the new link gun a variation of the pulse rifle.The game is visually stunning with every level showing off something special.

The full game has the same main introduction as the demo featuring one of the characters from the game blasting through the nVidia logo and ultimately firing a rocket as the screen, very amusing the first few times. You then reach the main menu screen which gives you the option of starting a single player game, joining or hosting an online game, launching a quick game, changing your settings and of course quitting, but why would you want to quit? The settings menu gives you the opportunity to modify your various settings, graphics, controls, ,audio etc. I noticed that when I cranked everything up that the announcer screamed "Holy sh*t" at me, which made me wonder if my system was really going to be able to cope with these settings, but fortunately my cheap monitor has saved me from going to any resolution higher than 1024x768 so I am safe for yet another day and so far I have had the odd stutter, but if it really irritated me I could always lower the various texture sizes. I also noticed that the 'preferences' console command no longer works, a command in previous unreal engine games which opens a handy configuration for those more advanced tweaks.

The redeemer will kill anything within it's blast radius and is great fun!Another fine example of the outdoor arenas, this one in a Bombing Run game.

Single player is available in the simplest possible sense, in which you have to qualify via standard deathmatch to enter the the (Unreal) Tournament, in which you are shown a short introduction similar to a wrestling match with the teams stomping on in various styles. After you have qualified you can select your team from the free transfers available, then the real single player game begins and you go through the following various stage:

  • Team Deathmatch- Not much different to the normal first person shooter flavour where two teams combat against each other with each teams combined frags/kills making up the teams score, though interestingly, as far as I could tell, suicide did not decrease the team score. Although this is team deathmatch there is no real teamwork occurring and although the bots will occasionally cover you, there is no structure.
  • Capture The Flag - The object of this game, as always, is to reach the opponents base, steal their flag and return it to your flag. Then the team will receive one point, the team score being totally unrelated to the player score, although the flag carrier will receive several points for a successful capture, as will other team members for killing the enemy flag carrier or assisting theirs. Team play is more important in this mode as the flag carrier must be protected, the base defended. Various tactics can be used to ensure victory.
  • Double Domination - This is a new game mode and although similar to Domination in the original game, the team must capture both domination points for several seconds before points are awarded, originally capturing a domination point scored the team one point for every two seconds the domination point was under your teams occupation. Team play is fairly important in this mode as attacks on the two points must be formulated and then held.
  • Bombing Run - This mode is my personal favourite, the ball starts off in the centre of the map and both teams must race to it and either shoot the ball into the goal using a special weapon for three points or launch themselves into the goal (on some maps this is instant death!) for seven points. Team play is very important here as the ball can be thrown forward or to other players.
Then you move on to the final tournaments but I don't want to go into too much detail there, I will leave it for you to discover! And now, a quick run down of the weapons, but first some more screenshots for your viewing pleasure:

This caught my eye, I couldn't believe the level of detail, I had to run back to see it.The sides of this tube were shiny, I caused a blockage by having a closer look!

Many of the games weapons will be instantly recognised by anyone who has played a former Unreal games, although all the graphics are new, though the feel remains, some have been enhanced and there are new weapons:

  • Assault Rifle - Pretty useless to be honest, I don't like it as much as the starting weapon in Unreal Tournament although the secondary fire when used properly can do some serious damage.
  • Flak Cannon - Very similar to the version seen in both Unreal and Unreal Tournament but still an awesome weapon, both the primary and secondary fire are capable of doing some serious damage.
  • Lightning Gun - This gun has replaced the sniper rifle, which I think is a little depressing,  the rate of fire is also slower but when you hit an opponent some serious damage is done.
  • Minigun - This weapon is also similar to previous versions, with the rate of fire being increased when secondary attack is used. A useful weapon for both long and close range combat.
  • Rocket Launcher - The integrated grenade launcher is gone, the primary attack will fire a solo rocket and the secondary fire will now fire up to three rockets. Serious damage can be done with this weapon.
  • Shieldgun - This is a new weapon and replaces the impact hammer of the previous versions, but if you somehow liked the impact hammer, then don't worry as this cool new weapon has some cool functionality. The primary attack will charge a serious charge which can do the opponents some serious damage, but physical contact must be made. Secondary attack will create a shield that will reduce the amount of damage from both enemy fire and fall damage!
  • Shock Rifle - This weapon hasn't changed a bit and it doesn't need to, primary attack is similar to that of a rail gun, the secondary sends out a dangerous energy blob, when combined an explosion occurs killing anything within that radius.
  • Ion Painter - This weapon will tag an area to be decimated by the Ion cannon.
  • Ion Cannon - Unleashes two terawatts of ionised plasma streams directly on the target, needless to say the attacker gets an addition to his frags.
  • Ball Launcher - This weapon is for Bombing Run and is used to transport the ball, no other weapon can be used at the same time and primary fire will launch the ball.
  • Biorifle - This weapon will fire blobs of green goop which explodes either on an opponent or in close proximity, a very deadly weapon when used correctly.
  • Link - This weapon is pretty much the same as the plasma rifle in Unreal Tournament but with one small difference, if you fire this weapon at a team-mate who is also firing the weapon it will energise their weapon increasing the damage that they do, very useful when used correctly.
  • Translocator - A teleportation device which can increase the speed at which you travel around maps, primary fire will launch a beacon and then either primary fire will recall it or secondary fire will transport you to that location. The Translocator can also be used as a camera.
  • Redeemer - As with Unreal Tournament this is the most powerful weapon in the game and can only be found in a few places with only one shot being offered at each time. Primary fire will launch the rocket in a straight line but secondary fire will allow you to view what the onboard camera allows you to see, but you will be susceptible to attack.
Before I look at the online side of the game, here are yet more screenshots for your viewing pleasure:

The zoomed in lightning gun allows you to attack unsuspecting enemies.There are no such thing as death animations with the 'ragdoll' effect.

Multiplayer is a very important aspect of games these days as not only does it prolong a games existence but can also be the sole reason for buying a game. Especially a multiplayer geared game such as this. The same game modes exist but this time you are playing against real people and sometimes bots. The integrated server browser works great and it is very easy to connect to the fastest servers under each type. For those of you still slightly behind in technology, like myself, I have played it on dialup and it works great. In fact, writing this review is keeping me from it, but I can suffer a little longer.

Gaming stats are kept by Epic to create a huge database of the online players and to see who has way to much time on their hands. There are other small features which makes this game great. The ability to double jump, that is to jump whilst already in the air brings a whole new tactical edge and when this skill is combined with dodging you will become a force to be reckoned with. Power Ups are no longer something to pick up but are obtained in the form of adrenaline which can be picked up as small three pont pills or obtained thru fragging. Once a hundred is hit, you then can perform different combinations to achieve invisibility, beserk, speed or health boost.

Anything else? This game is very polished and after the initial Quake III feel of the demo with the very bulky character models and the bright colours it has settled down and become Unreal again. The ragdoll style of the models creates the most fluid movement and deaths I have ever seen. The sound is great apart from the announcer, but I can live with it. The game also comes bundled with all the applications required to create new models or entire modifications and I look forward to those, hopefully something like Counter-strike will raise its head soon! This game is great fun and the CD will be sitting in my drive for a few weeks and perhaps the rest of the year. But next year who knows? With the incoming Doom III and Condition Zero, the online first person shooter market is no longer a niche.

An old favourite returns! Facing worlds 3 is huge, and not so sniper friendly.Your teams 'decal' makes a regular appearance around the place.

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Xie wrote on Electronic Punk's profile.
Impressed you have kept this alive this long EP! So many sites have come and gone. :(

Just did some crude math and I apparently joined almost 18yrs ago, how is that possible???
hello peeps... is been some time since i last came here.
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Rest in peace my friend, been trying to find you and finally did in the worst way imaginable.
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Where are you buddy?

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