Unreal Tournament 2004 (PC) Review

Admin - 2007-02-06 16:40:57 in Gaming
Category: Gaming
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: May 23, 2004
Epic Games
Atari
Price: $39.99 USD

Introduction

To many people, Unreal Tournament 2003 was a disappointment to the original Unreal Tournament. While it provided some new features, not enough was added to keep interest. That, combined with the release of Battlefield 1942, a new game that focused on team play, Unreal Tournament 2003 was left sucking dirt.

Here we are now, well over a year later, and the battle continues. Unreal Tournament 2004 and Battlefield: Vietnam released just a day apart. It’s to early to tell what the outcome of this war will be, but we can tell you what we think of Unreal Tournament 2004.


Features

UT2K4 packs a lot of stuff into the game, while also including most of what UT2K3 had. Because of this, UT2K4 feels more like an upgrade, or expansion pack rather than a new game. Just so there is no confusion about it, Unreal Tournament 2004 is a completely new game, and does not require UT2K3. So, what’s new?

Closer Look

Though it may seam a lot like UT2K3, there have been a number of nice changes to the game. This first and probably the biggest change will be the addition of vehicles. The ability to use vehicles helped make BF1942 a great game, and the use of them in UT2K4 can’t be a bad thing. The 8 vehicles in UT2K4 give us the ability to drive or fly through the air and space, which also adds a whole new level of difficulty. Before most of your opponents were on the ground, or on platforms you could identify, now your opponents can come at you from the air.

A majority of the vehicles in UT2K4 are single seat vehicles, which as we’ve seen in other games can lead to a line of runway junkies. These would be the people that’d rather stand around and wait for a vehicle to spawn, rather than heading out into the action on foot.

While the 5 seat Leviathan is a nice vehicle for one person you really get to see how cool it is once you’ve piled 5 people in it.

Vehicles or not, probably the best part of UT2K4 is the onslaught mode. In this, teams battle to destroy each other’s power core. Sounds simple? Well, it’s not. The two power cores are connected by a series of power nodes. You must claim control over the power nodes, building a link to the other teams core before you can even attack the core.

To make things harder, you can only attack (or claim) a power node that is in line (or linked) to a node that you already control. Each node that you control will also serve as a spawn point for your team. Because of this, battles tend to stay focused in one or two locations at a time. This also keeps one person from running around the major battle and taking control of a node behind the lines.

Onslaught is much like an improved version of the Battlefield’s “Conquest” mode.

Making its return to the Tournament is the Assault mode. I’d have to say this is probably my 2nd favorite game mode. Here we have two teams, one plays offense and the other plays defense. The offensive team has a series of objectives to accomplish, while the defensive team lays back, camps, and tries to stop the offence from completing their objectives. At the end of the time limit, the teams switch rolls and it all begins again.

For those of you who just want an intense free-for-all battle, DeathMatch returns. It’s a fast passed, kill or be killed world that relies on timing, skill, luck, and a whole lot of ammo.

Returning from UT2K3 are the Team DeathMatch, Bombing Run, Double Domination, Capture the Flag, and Invasion modes. With all the game modes available, you are sure to find a mode you like.

Team DeathMatch takes the free-for-all DM to a new level. Now it’s not just a game of “hold down the fire button.” You are now in the arena with team mates, who will get very pissed if you kill them (and lower the team score).

In Capture The Flag (CTF) each team has two goals. Protect your team’s flag and capture the other team’s flag. Scoring is accomplished by bringing the other team’s flag to where you flag is. The only catch is, your team’s flag must be in place before you can score, often times requiring you or your teammates to hunt down the other flag and return it.

Double Domination is similar to the CTF and assaults games. Each team battles over two locations. To score, you must control each location for 10 seconds.

Bombing Run is an interesting game. It’s like an extreme basketball with no traveling penalties and the other team trying to kill you (literally). A ball starts out in a central location between each teams “base”. Scoring is accomplished by getting the ball through a ring in the opponent’s base.

Closer Look (Cont.)

Mutant is an interesting game mode. The person who draws first blood automatically gets everything (ammo, weapons, power up, etc). The mutant’s health slowly degenerates, and can only be replenished by fragging others. The mutant scores points by fragging other players. There is another mode to the mutant game called BottomFeeder. In this mode, the person with the lowest score can frag other players and get points. Once the player no longer has the lowest score, someone else becomes the BottomFeeder.

Last Man Standing comes from the original game. As you frag someone, your health is restored. But if you stand in one spot to long, you are declared a camper and your location is displayed on everyone’s map.

The Invasion game mode puts everyone on a team. Together they fight a swarm of monsters (which include some from the original Unreal). If you die during a swarm, you wont be able to respawn till the swarm is defeated, and that is only if at least on person from your team is left alive.

Even though Onslaught and Assault are probably my favorite game modes, I’ve found that the 1-on-1 maps are awesome. This is really the place to pwn your friends. And I imagine a good number of LAN Parties will be having 1-on-1 tournaments.


The game includes all of the maps from UT2K3, and has close to 100 total maps (more than 45 of which are new). Despite the huge number of maps, I found that some of the game modes could have used an extra few maps. But knowing the Unreal Community, I’m sure that this problem will soon be rectified.
A FPS without a weapon arsenal is like a LAN Party without bawls. With UT2K4, we have all the old weapons, as well as 4 new items. Including a new sniper rifle, which puts the old lightning rifle to shame.

Included with the new arsenal is a Mine Layer, which deploys spider mines, which are great for anti-vehicle and even better at anti-personnel.

Speaking of anti-vehicle, nothing is better than the AVRiL, or Anti-Vehicle Rocket Launcher, which fires homing missiles.

The final new weapon is the Grenade Launcher, which fire sticky grenades that stick to players, vehicles, and everything else. The nice thing about these grenades is that they explode when you want them to (by pressing alt-fire).

For those of you stuck on 56K, or needing some offline practice, UT2K4 also includes a single player mode (who would have known...). After finishing the qualifying round of DM, you are allowed to buy your team with credits earned during matches. After picking a team, you must qualify in the Team DM before being allowed to enter the tournament ladder.

Credits can be earned by winning a match, and by certain accomplishments during the match. The credits can be used to buy new team members, or to “heal” a member that may have been injured in the tournament.

In addition to buying new members, you may also challenge other teams to a “blood rights” battle, if you win, you get a person from the team you battled for. As you would expect, your challengers get more difficult as you progress on, so keeping your team roster stacked with the better players is a must.

In any team-based game, communication is a must, and UT2K4 is no exception. As with other games you have your standard preset macros, as well as the ability to type out messages. But in a fast passed game, if you stop to say something, you are as good as dead. To help facilitate communication among teams, UT2K4 includes voice-over-IP (VOIP). This allows you to talk to your teammates (and even issue commands) without relying on a 3rd party program. If you pick up the DVD Special Edition version of UT2K4, you get a nice little headset to be used with UT2K4.

The sounds of the game don’t have much of a difference from UT2K3. While some new phrases have been added for the announcers, they still say a lot of the same old stuff that’s been said since the original. It’s time to change things a little more, don’t ya think? Though I will say, some of the new comments by the announcers are great.

I find the music also gets old rather quickly, and after just a few hours of playing, I disabled the in game music and turned on some real music. Something about fragging with Disturbed, Saliva, Korn, NIN, Audioslave, Nickelback, Metallica, and other hard rock bands made the game a whole lot better. Perhaps in the next edition of UT, we’ll see a real soundtrack. It’d defiantly make the game a whole lot better.

While they may not provide the eye candy that some of the upcoming games are promising, UT2K4 graphics are nice. There’s been some work to increase the detail level of UT2K4, but not too much was done that bogged the game down. I’d sacrifice eye candy for a smooth, fast game play any day (that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like both :p).

Conclusion

I first got my taste of UT2K4 back at Comdex last year, and I could tell then that this was going to be a hell of a game. If you played UT2K3, this may seam more like an expansion pack than a whole new game. For those that missed UT2K3 or the entire Unreal franchise you’re in for a treat.

The game has added a lot since 2K3, but I still find it lacking in some areas. The first area would be the map department. While including the maps from the last game was nice, they aren’t new. Sure, 45+ new maps have been included, but many of the maps have been focused in on the DM area. The other modes could use 10-15 maps. Remember, variety is the spice of life. Though as I said before, with the talent that many of the people in the Unreal Community have, I’m sure we’ll see a huge number of player made maps coming soon. And we’ve seen Epic release “Bonus Packs” in the past that include new maps. I more than expect this to happen with UT2K4.

While the sounds of the game are good, the music could use some updating. Battlefield: Vietnam was the first to include a real soundtrack; UT should follow in the like. Perhaps a streaming radio for UT? Now that would be awesome.

Most games when first released still have a few bugs to be worked out. I must say that I’m impressed with UT2K4 in this area. I’ve not noticed (or seen any reports on our forums) any bugs thus far. I’m sure there are some, but nothing that reaches out and grabs me.

Gamers Review
You’ve seen what I’ve thought about the game. But what do others have to say about it? To get some other feedback on the game, we asked our forum members what they thought about UT2K4 before posting our review. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

andrusk "All in all, this is a great game. And a must buy for any fps fan"
   
General912 "Love the new Onslaught mode. Really adds a new feel to the Unreal world. Vehicals are an added pluss. The DVD version is cool because its only two disks and comes with a logitech headset."
   
bishop245 "Great game i have the regular version and it is 6 cd's (more for me to lose) i do agree that the 5.5 gigs of space is crazy but the game is still fast paced and fun."
   
twohig5 "Big install, but thats what you get when you get that many high res textures, but then again this is the reason we have all those big hard drives. by far the best UT to date."
   
Capslock118 "The only thing missing in this game is some ninjas........and maybe a dragon or two."
   
roadkill "I like the new addition of veichles, the only thing i dont like is that the game is moving away from the tournament aspect."
   
ravix "Without the vehicles UT2003 was just an average fps with fantastic graphics. UT2004 has the best of both worlds: great graphics with some depth to back it up."

 

Game Rating
All scores have a maximum of 10.0.

Gameplay 
  9.0
Graphics 
  9.5
Sound 
  7.5
Value 
  9.0
Reviewer's Raiting 
  9.0
OVERALL
8.8