Unreal Tournament 2004 - game review

Date: 2004-05-05 11:24:00
The review was based on the PC version.

Unreal Tournament 2004 is already the third part of a series of games designed for online gameplay, so it lacks the typical singleplayer mode (Unreal and Unreal 2 have been created for players eager for "independent" adventures). What may seem like a disadvantage of the game at first, is its biggest advantage - in the case of UT, it started in 1999 (together with Quake III Arena) and continues to this day. And although the computer game market is changing with the preferences of the players, the new UT is again among the best. While he fought for existence a year and a half ago with Battlefield 1942, earlier with Q3, now he is the clear leader. Decisive not only because it is better than the competition, but also because there are no similar competitors. You can ask yourself - what about UT 2003? Is it worth investing in a new game that will not be too different from its predecessor? The answer is: it's worth it! Although the changes are not colossal, they are significant, the game contains all the best elements of its predecessors plus a few new ones, and at the same time keeps its shape - it's worth it.

I myself am a supporter of realistic action games, where "absurdities" do not exist, and productions such as Medal of Honor, the mentioned Battlefield 1942, or the recently released Call of Duty and Far Cry are enough, so I have a skeptical attitude towards "slightly frivolous" games. Therefore, despite the sympathy I had for the previous parts, I approached UT2004 with some reserve. The negative feelings disappeared without a trace after only a few minutes spent on the demo, not to mention the full version of the game. Without a shadow of a doubt - Unreal Tournament is doing great and probably will not be forgotten soon.

The battles in UT2004 are very dynamic (they seem even faster than before), regardless of the game mode. The element of planning the game in team games goes to the background in the first moment - the most important thing is the fun, which grows in proportion to the time spent on the game. I used to think that these types of games are good because of the time you can devote to them, that you only need half an hour to relax by playing a few matches. In fact, however, it is not. Having fun is addictive! One cannot forget about the mutators that make the basic rules of the game strange, and about the mods that cannot be counted. UT asking you to play it? Maybe not necessarily, but it's definitely worth it.

In the first stage of more or less conscious infatuation, your main goal is to master your combat skills and get to know a new weapon (if you haven't had any contact with UT before), especially in deathmatch. However, in all team-based modes, there are a few other elements to learn, in which combat is only part of the scenario being played.

Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Mutant, Bombing Run, Invasion, Last Man Standing, Assault, Double Domination, Onslaught - these are the game modes in UT2004, most of which are widely known and appeared in previous parts of UT. A modification of the traditional deathmatch (everyone-for-everyone) are: Mutant, Last Man Standing and Invasion - they take place on the same DM maps. In Mutant, one player has extraordinary strength (including invisibility) and all other players try to take over the superpower (Double and Multi Kill are additionally scored). In Last Man Standing, players have a limited number of lives - the last one to survive wins (often with fewer points than others), and in Invasion, all players fight against hordes of alien creatures.

The maps for Double Domination and Capture the Flag are based on the fight of two teams, hence two bases play a key role. In DD, the task of the teams is to capture two bases simultaneously over a period of time to score a point, and in CTF, to bring the flag from an alien base to their own. The rules of Bombing Run are a bit like CTF - in order to win, players must deliver the bomb to the very center of the enemy base. The problem is that the player carrying the bomb cannot use the weapon, but can throw it ("pass" it) towards his companion. Assault (present in UT, but absent in UT2003) is based on the capture of the enemy base or other fortification (e.g. convoy), while the latter's task is to defend. New to Assault are tutorial videos showing what, how and in what order to win, and an arrow showing the way to the next checkpoint is displayed on the screen.

Vehicles appear in Assault and Onslaught - an undeniable novelty when it comes to the UT series. Some missions in Assault are impossible to play without, for example, a heavy tank, not to mention the Wing Commander that begins with the space combat. Also in Onslaught - a source of pride for the manufacturer - all kinds of vehicles will find great use. There are checkpoints on the maps, which must be mastered and interconnected (this procedure takes place automatically) to destroy the nucleus in the center of the enemy base (which equates to winning the fight). The turrets on the maps in Assault and Onslaught are also quite important. Using them, as well as vehicles, is very simple.

The maps are very diverse. Although most of it is set in futuristic realities, in terms of design, textures used, etc., no two arenas are alike. The package includes both completely new and older maps from UT2003, both huge, spatial locations and more complicated, somewhat claustrophobic. Dense forest, winter, ruins, ancient city, garbage dump, and lots more. There is a lot to choose from. One of the novelties in UT2004 is the "comet", showing the way to the base of the red or blue team. Personally, I rarely use it, even without knowing the map, but sometimes its help is very useful.

Like the rest of the game, the guns also form a set containing the old models: either unchanged at all or partially. The first group includes, among others Flak Cannon, Shock Rifle, Rocket Launcher, Minigun, and the second one, for example Assault Rifle (with a grenade launcher, you can wield two ARs at the same time), Sniper Rifle (leaves a trail of smoke), Along with Onslaught, we have several new guns at our disposal, with AVRiL at the helm. This model is a rescue for all those who cannot fit into any vehicle and are reliant on traditional combat. The AVRiL is a handheld anti-tank cannon and is great for destroying all kinds of vehicles, hovercraft etc. etc. Grenade Launcher ejects sticky grenades detonated with an alternate shot, and the Mine Layer is used to place small explosives locked in a cybernetic spider's shell. He will wait for an enemy to appear nearby (also in a vehicle), or he will immediately follow the indicated direction. Such vermin can be extremely bothersome, especially in larger numbers.

The pool with the largest destroyers also includes the amazing Redeemer, Ion Painter and Target Painter. The last two call for reinforcements from the air: a huge blast and a second raid. This way the forces in Onslaught are more balanced, as are the rest of the modes. The power of guns and vehicles is balanced (advantages and disadvantages are very easy to use, depending on which side you are on) - just like in the previous parts of UT.

Unreal Tournament 2004 may resemble some of the other futuristic action games, Halo or Tribes - but these are only appearances. In the new UT, characters are not divided into classes - each of them can carry a light, heavy or sniper weapon at the same time, and there is no specific weight (light, medium, heavy). The player is not faced with the dilemma of what character to choose or what tactic to choose before starting the game.

Like all games with Unreal in the title, UT2004 also has a great graphics engine. No wonder, after all, games are made under the license of one of its engines. Perhaps it does not bring you to your knees, because, after all, it is very similar to what we saw on the occasion of UT2003, but maps, models and textures come together into one very coherent whole. By using the large possibilities of setting the game to your own needs (or rather hardware capabilities), you can get quite a large number of frames per second with a reasonable configuration. The new Unreal does not impress with its effects, although it uses the capabilities of the latest graphics cards. Interestingly, especially for laptop owners - UT2004 runs in software rendering mode.

The sounds and music do not differ from the whole: they are still good quality sounds and quite good and quite electronic background music. In addition, there is the possibility of talking to other players, both during the game and in the chat, so you can consider buying a set with a microphone. However, in the menu there is an option to turn on the voiceover reading the sentences entered by players, but its practical use is mediocre.

UT2004 was created with the idea of playing online, but it does not overlook players who do not have access to the global (or local) network or who simply want to practice before playing online. For these players, a tournament was prepared, played on subsequent maps, according to a predetermined pattern. For winning, you get money needed to participate in other competitions or to hire a better companion (in team games). Kompana, a computer-controlled bot "pretending" to be real players. UT2004 deserves a lot of praise, because the artificial intelligence of bots is at a very high level and playing with them really makes sense. Several difficulty levels will allow you to choose an opponent to your own needs and probably die-hard veterans will be pleasantly surprised by the behavior of virtual opponents. Of course, you can't talk to them in your free time or discuss tactics in the next duel, but you can forgive them.

Maciek "valpurgius" Hajnrich