Unreal Tournament 2004 PC Review

The first thing I said when i saw at a retail store the original Unreal Tournament game was “that game has to be mine”. And indeed it was. Now fast forward to 2003, when the sequel of that award-winner came out: disappointment after disappointment; it was not the worthy successor of that great game. Then fast forward to 2004: a new chalenger has arrived, this time with even much more punch than last year.

I wasn’t so convinced that this would even a good game since just the last year, Epic Games disapointmed me with their 2k3 release of one of the best games ever, but still I gave it a try and guess what? I was really wrong about it. Featuring almost twice the content that the previous UT and an engine now even more polished. This time we’ve got the worthy successor of a great classic. A new year and new things to see and do.

At first galance, it would seem that there’s not much improvement in the grapchis engine, mainly because it is very similar to the one used in the previous game. However the real stuff comes when we talk about physics of the game; the so-called “rag-dool” physics have a great impact on the way you feel the battle. In one game of Bombing Run one bot was almost in position to score me, so i had to go and try to stop him.

Of course, his teammate wouldn’t let me do that. With only time for two shots before the first bot was ready to score, I turned left and let the shards of the Flak Cannon fly to kill the bastard that was in my way; luckly, one shot was enough to kill him. Still, it was impressive how each of the shards of my shot had a real impact over the body of the bot, moving it as each of the shards hit, one at the time. It gave me the impresion that someone in real life could die like that if I shot him with a real Flak Cannon.

Realistic sound effects are there with gusto. From radio-conversations with bots and teammates, to explotions, vehicles and Flak-deaths. Sadly, this reviewer of yours doesn’t have a sweet 6.1 channel sound card, but it is still great without one. If you have the rig, then I’m sure you will have a gorgeous spectacle for your ears. If you don’t, then go and find those ol’headphones of your portable cd player or minidisk, because it’s not as great with a filthy pair of common speakers (at least, you need a subwoofer).

You have all of your favourite game modes. From the classic UT we’ve got Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Last Man Standing, Capture the Flag and the one we all we’ve missed: Assault (each map in Assault is beatifully introducted as you receive some introduction to what you have to do and why you are playing in that map. And from UT2003 we’ve got Mutant, Bombing Run, Invasion and Double Domination. The newbie: Onslaught, wich benefits from the introduction of vehicles to the game, one of the major changes this series has taken. In this mode, each team has a Power Core, located at the center of it’s base (heavily defended, of course) and the objetive is to destroy the enemy’s core. How is this made? You need to take control of the Power Nodes so you can conect your Core with the other one, making it vulnerable to weapons.

Still, that’s not an easy task to acomplish, because the enemy will try to do the same thing to yours, using whatever they find: classic weapons, granade launchers and mine layers, tanks and flying vehicles, Anti-Vehicle Rocket Launchers (AVRiL for short) and maybe some aerial strikes or satellite attacks.

The single player mode is straight forward, with some aditions over the last year’s UT. Once you quilify for the main tournament, a sponsor will give you some cash to hire players and you’ll get even more money as you win. Yet your players can be injured, or even worse; at the end you can be challenged by the rival team for money or for one of your players, which could be very expensive for your pocket.

Once you’re done with the single player campaign, you can either practice a little more with your bots or jump to the online matches, with loads of frag-hungry players that will make this game be around for a very, very long time. With the capacity of voice chat, you will enjoy Assault, Onslaught and CTF matches as if you really where holding a gun and running to help your team… or hide away and run like a coward from the enemy’s Goliath Tanks.

Mod community is pleased with the addition of the UnrealED, which allow modders to do much stuff even more easy than before, so you have more options to enjoy your UT experience. There’s an NVidia sponsored contest, in wich they and Epic Games are giving away one million dollars in prices to the best modders out there. Check how is it going at www.unrealtournament.com.

The only complain I’ve got about this game is the dificulty. Even at lower ones, you will have some trouble with super-human bots that barely miss a hit and always find you when you are hidding from enemy bullets while holding the flag. Still, that’s a minor issue that can be overseen when you turn on auto-aiming for single player games. However sometimes I feel it makes it far too easy.

The final veredict? It’s a must-try for casual players and a must-have for hardcore FPS players, yet you will need a really powerful PC to get maximum performance out of this babe.

9 out of 10
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