Unreal Tournament 2004
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  • Atari
  • Epic Games
  • Action - Shooter - First Person (example - Quake)
  • 2003
  • MM
  • Hard Drive
  • 1
  • $15.00
  • Mature
10  |  One of The Highest Rated Shooters Of All Time
Dezoris , 8/20/2008 1:42:35 PM

Be prepared for a review that is so positive, you’ll think I was paid off directly by Epic. Sadly, I was not, but nevertheless I want to tell you why UT2004 is one of the greatest first person shooters, nay, games, ever made.
Gameplay: 10/10
Point, click, kill. It’s a formula that has worked ever since the days of Doom and Heretic. But for as simple as this methodology is, it is still surprisingly difficult to make a successful game that capitalizes on it. For those of you who have played Halo on a religious basis, I invite you to consider the Unreal series of bloodsports. Much like your own training, you gear up and compete against your opponents in a kill-or-be-killed scenario. Only here you possess additional abilities including double jumps, wall-dodges, and the ever-popular dodge-jump. So many people I know have cringed when they saw this addition to the Unreal Tournament gameplay, but I truly believe it has achieved the pinnacle of a pulse-pounding shooter. Now your survival is not only reliant on your fastest finger routine, but on your ability to maneuver around the arena while avoiding volleys of rockets and searing hot shrapnel. To illustrate the situation, I like to provide a comparison to fans of other, more sluggish fps title. The average fps game makes you feel like a sumo with a gun. UT2004 turns you into a ninja with a flak cannon. There is simply no purer bliss. Snipers be warned, this is a game that will leave you trembling. There is no place to hide, and no place to run. Your only hope for survival is to learn quickly, and react quicker.
The weapons loadout for UT2004 is much like previous games in the series including rockets, flak cannon, and the revered shock rifle. All weapons possess alternating fire modes that can unleash hell across waves of opponents. This is one of the reasons UT2004 has become such a standard for first person combat. And no matter what your preference, you’ll be able to find a weapon that fits quite comfortably in the palm of your hand. The only downside to the UT2004 arsenal is that the Minigun was nerfed quite a bit. Still, you’ll often find yourself on the receiving end of a Lightning Gun / Minigun combo assault.
If a traditional Deathmatch isn’t your cup-of-tea, you are also presented, out of the box, with a multitude of other gamemodes including Capture the Flag, Double Domination, and the new vehicle-based Onslaught. All of these have a slew of unique maps and arenas that will keep you and your online buddies busy for near eternity. And if for some reason you aren’t completely satisfied, you can take part in one of the largest mod communities in the gaming industry by downloading custom maps, characters, and even entire games based off of the Unreal technology.
Perhaps the most important mode to discuss in the original UT2004 is Onslaught. It is a full-scale war of red versus blue in which both teams are trying to infiltrate and destroy the opponent’s power core. But getting there will be no simple task. In order to deactivate the shield protecting the core you’ll need to link a series of power nodes together starting from your base all the way into enemy territory. This connect-the-dots scenario might not sound too intimidating, but there is one problem…you’re opponents are attempting the same feat. This guarantees that you’ll be caught in heated battles as you feverishly attempt to regain control of lost nodes and fend off enemy crafts. There is simply no other experience like it in the gaming world.
Assault is another mode worth mentioning. I’m surprised not as many people enjoy this mode, because it think it hails quite well to it’s UT99 predecessor. Assault is an objective-based gamemode that pits two teams against each other in various scenarios. Usually one team is attempting to infiltrate their opponent’s stronghold and complete a series of tasks (blow up this, steal that). The team that completes more objectives and in a faster time will be deemed the winner. After a round is complete teams will switch sides and take on the opposing team’s position as either defender or assaulter. The fun in this game mode relies heavily on the map creation, since each set of objectives is completely defending by the surroundings. Vehicles and weapon turrets are also thrown into the mix, so having huge scale team battles really adds to the joy of this strategy-based gamemode.
There are a slew of addition gamemodes and downloadable features for UT2004 that go beyond the scope of this review. But I think it’s important to mention that even now the UT2004 community is strong and prosperous with custom content and gamemodes that ensure you will never get bored.
Controls: 10/10
Another fantastic achievement in UT2004 is the completely open-ended control scheme. Players can map keys to almost anything they choose to ensure they are ready for the most heated of battles. You can also set such a specific level of mouse control and acceleration that there’s no excuse for anyone to not gain professional-level precision. Further preferences such as double-click time (for dodging), crosshair styles, and HUD toggles are all available across half a dozen menus. This depth of control and customization is truly one of the best explanations for UT2004’s success because it allows gamers of every skill level to find their sweet spots in the Unreal universe.
When you’re in the driver seat of various vehicles you’ll also find the controls to be very empowering. Using the same configuration of walking keys allows you to drive, fly, and hover across huge maps in an attempt to pancake your opponents. This offers several advantages over other control schemes such as Halo because it allows you to travel and look in two completely independent directions. Brandishing your vehicle’s weapon is as simple as a left or right mouse click. And depending on the vehicle, you may even have the option of switching seats by pressing the corresponding number key and attaining a different weapon. This ability is complimented by the fact that you can even adjust the camera position by scrolling your mouse wheel up or down to alter the level of zoom. Never have I seen such a thorough and well-rounded approach to gaming perspectives as I have experienced with UT2004.
Replay Value: 10/10
If you even generally enjoy first person shooters, there is simply no excuse NOT to be playing this game. If you never download a single mod and only play the factory gamemodes, you’ll find hours of endless competition and bliss online against friends and strangers alike. And if you somehow become immune to the vast set of original content, you’ll be immediately greeted online with an endless sea of community bonus packs, custom gamemodes, and mutators that let you alter nearly every aspect of the UT2004 gameplay. Some modifications are so creative they even spawned totally new games, complete with their own desktop icon. Anything from WarCraft style combat, to overhead Tom Clancy style infiltration, chances are you’ll find it using the Unreal technology.
 Graphics: 10/10
For the time, UT2004 really brought a lot to the table in terms of visual effects. The detailed textures and terrain mapping across nearly every map created an awe-inspiring atmosphere and if you had a good enough box, you’d be able to crank the settings so high that you’d blaze past coronas, plant decals, and fully dynamic character shadows. But if you were like me and preferred framerate over effects, you kept your settings fairly modest…and the game STILL looked amazing. The various characters and weapons all came with their own impressive skins, many of which had enough room for detail that the developers included small decals like playback buttons and text messages within them. Nothing says “oh crap” to your opponent like the “Swallow this!” greeting on the side of a Redeemer missile.
Artificial Intelligence: 8/10
The Unreal series has always boasted its determined focus on creating challenging yet realistic computerized opponents. Challenging? You bet. Realisitic? Not quite. Although I enjoy the feverish pace, it’s quite obvious that bots in UT2004 take a little too much advantage of their programmatic roots. For instance, shooting rockets out of their ass in a situation where you would normally be able to sneak up against a human opponent. It’s a shame these handicaps occur rather frequently because it deters from the single player campaign, perhaps the only weak spot in the entire game. Still, training against the many difficulty levels of bots will quickly whip you into shape as you prepare for the most deadly combat that awaits online.
Music: 9/10
The entirely original soundtrack for UT2004 is one of the best around. From harsh industrial tracks, to eerie alien medleys, there are enough unique songs to capture every beat of the tournaments around you. I do miss a few tracks from previous Unreal games, but the feel and genre still remain true in UT2004 for everyone to enjoy.
Sound: 9/10
Sound effects are crisp and clear from start to finish in UT2004. Whether it’s splattering your foe across the pavement, or humming along with the various projectiles that are being launched from your Link Gun, the sounds are just another convincing part of an already satisfying fps experience. My only small complaint comes in the form of a question…Does anyone else think the elevator on Rankin sounds like a small dog getting stepped on?
Conclusion: 10/10
At its release, UT2004 made its mark across the gaming industry as the highest ranked first person shooter of all time. Its sheer variety and mod community make it worth the harddrive space. In fact, I doubt there will ever be another single game with more to offer than this legendary title. There is no need to draw out this conclusion any further. Unreal Tournament 2004 is simply one thing…Ruthless.


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