Unreal Tournament 2003 Review


The graphical eye-candy extends to the player models and weapon effects as well.  Player animations are smooth and life-like, and player deaths make use of "rag doll" physics.  When a player is killed, his/her death animation is dependent on the cause of death.  If a player is hit by a rocket at close range, he will be flung away, leaving body pieces behind and bouncing off of any objects in the way.  Hit someone with a bullet to the head, and they will drop into a crumpled heap where they stand.  All this graphical power comes at the price of processing power, but by adjusting the detail level you can keep the framerate smooth.  If your system just meets the minimum requirements and you intend to play online via a dial-up modem, then be prepared to play at the lowest detail settings and to live with the occasional stutter when the onscreen action becomes crowded. 

Unreal Tournament 2003 includes some 10+ weapons, each equipped with a primary and secondary firing mode.  Some of the weapons are more devastating than others, but there's not really a throw-away weapon and each one can be really handy in some situations.  There's a Flak Cannon that fires ricocheting flechettes that are perfect for corridor fighting, a Biorifle that can be used to "paint" an area with toxic sludge that makes a great trap for interlopers trying to enter your base, and the ubiquitous rocket launcher is great for taking out a group of enemies in crowded quarters.  Even your default assault rifle is no pushover; it can quickly take down an enemy if wielded properly and comes equipped with a grenade launcher.  For sheer destructive pleasure, though, nothing can beat the Ion Painter.  This weapon is used to 'mark' a target for an orbiting Ion Cannon.  Once a target is marked, the Ion Canon locks onto it and delivers a devastating blast that wipes everything out in a fifty meter radius.

Control in the game is very smooth and responsive, and you'll never feel that you were fragged because you were fighting with the mouse or keyboard.  In addition to the standard move and jump keys, Unreal Tournament 2003 lets you double-tap the keys to perform dodges, sidesteps, and higher jumps.  If you collect the adrenaline pills scattered around the map, then you can even perform different 'combo' moves such as a speed burst, self-heal, and invisibility.  The combos are a nice touch, but in practice don't figure much into the game.  Things move so quickly in the game that it's hard to accumulate 100 adrenalines and then find the time to hit the key sequences without getting fragged at some point.

The game's sound effects are excellent and add to the game's excitement and immersion.  The music may be of the somewhat generic techno persuasion, but who plays games for the music?  There is an in-game commentator who announces kills, flag captures, and the like, and he probably cut his teeth on monster truck rallies and wrestling matches.  It adds to the game's frantic nature, but you cold, silent Ghost Recon killer types might find him to be more than a little annoying at times. 

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 90%. A fast-paced, fantastic looking fragfest that is an absolute blast to play.  It might not be anything new and revolutionary, but it sure is fun.  It would be nice if there was more to the single player game, though...

System Requirements:  733 MHz Pentium III CPU; 128 MB RAM; 16 MB Video RAM; 8x CD-ROM; 3 GB Hard Drive Space; Mouse.


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