I'm a 21-year-old student of Modern History and German at Hertford College, Oxford, currently living in Bonn, Germany. I've just rediscovered Ciao after a long absence and would welcome any comments on my latest review!
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I must say, Matt is very proud of himself. He’s been a member of Ciao since Christmas, and has managed to write a score and two of ops without writing about a computer game of some sort. All good things must end though, and on this occasion I’m simply too tempted, so if games aren’t your thing you have my permission to skim this op.
Anyway, Unreal Tournament. If you’re still here, girls, it’s a shooting game. Typical male, huh? But it’s a very good shooting game – in fact, it was crowned ‘Game of the Year’ on its release in 1999.
So what makes Unreal Tournament so much better than the multitude of other first-person shooters out there? Well, in a pretty overcrowded market, Unreal has a spark of originality not present in most games of this genre.
First of all, installing the game couldn’t be easier. The game now ships, I believe, on two CDs, one containing the actual game and another containing a number of largely pointless bonuses and extras. Installing is simply a matter of putting the CD into your drive and following the instructions. Nothing complicated, although it may take a while if you have a slow PC. Also it requires quite a lot of hard disk space, 500 megabytes for the technically-minded amongst your good selves.
When the game is installed, it’s actually quite hard to find. Unusually, it won’t place an icon on your desktop, preferring to set up camp in the depths of your Start Menu – well, it did for me anyway. If your copy suffers from the same affliction, root around in your Start Menu; when you find the game, drag it to your desktop and make a shortcut. Makes the whole thing a lot easier for the future.
On starting the game, you are immediately greeted by an interesting opening movie. Well actually that’s a lie – the game takes a good half-minute to get going but its worth the wait. This little piece, taken from the opening to the game, makes a nice little introduction to Unreal:
‘In 2291, in an attempt to control violence among deep-space miners, the new Earth Government legalised no-holds-barred fighting. Liandri Mining Corporation, working with the NEG, established a series of leagues and bloody public exhibitions. The fights’ popularity grew with their brutality. Soon, Liandri discovered that the public matches were their most profitable enterprise. The Professional League was formed, a cabal of the most violent and skilled warriors in known space, selected to fight in a grand tournament.’
You guessed it, you are one of the warriors. So reading between the lines, your task is to embark on a violent mission to blow apart anything in your way until you attain champion status. Fun, huh? But Unreal is much, much more.
Unreal contains several distinct game modes, each of which is unlocked on the successful completion of the previous:
Deathmatch (DM) : Most of you gamers will be familiar with this one; think Quake. For those of you who aren’t regular members of the gaming fraternity, the objective of deathmatch is to move through the level, indiscriminately shooting at anything that moves whilst being careful not to be killed too much yourself. The winner is simply the player who reaches a certain number of kills first. Unreal’s deathmatch implementation is one of the best I’ve seen; the computer opponents are incredibly realistic and will keep the match fast-moving and tense.
Domination (DO) : This is kinda hard to explain if you haven’t played it. Basically, scattered throughout the level are three strategically placed control points. The match is played in teams, and the objective is to walk through the control points to gain control of the point for your team. If a member of the opposition walks through it, it will change colour and control passes to their team. It’s imperative to keep control of the control points for as long as possible as for every five seconds your team controls a point, one point is added to your score. The winner is the team which accumulates a preset number of points first. I’m not sure if this is in any other games, but I found it a welcome change from the bog-standard point-and-shoot action.
Capture-the-Flag (CTF) : This is pretty common to games of this genre. Again the players are divided into teams. Each team is assigned a base, inside of which is a flag which they have to defend. The objective is to infiltrate the enemy base, grab the flag and return it successfully to your base. Sounds easy? Well it isn’t – on grabbing the flag you will be assaulted by a wave of enemy players trying to mow you down and regain their flag. The winning team is the team which captures the flag the most times. This is a highly tactical game with a strong emphasis on teamwork.
Assault (AS) : I love this mode. Again, the players are divided into teams, and have to defend a base. The difference is that the bases are much more complex than in capture-the-flag. The attacking team is set a list of objectives they have to accomplish, whilst the defending team must attempt to stand in their way. When the attackers have conquered the base, the roles are reversed. The winners are the team which conquers the base fastest. I found this highly original and a welcome addition to the game – some of the levels are truly epic, particularly the final one.
Challenge : This is the same as deathmatch, except with tougher opponents. In this mode, you will finally slug it out with the Champion, Xan Kriegor, in an attempt to wrestle away his crown. But he’s very much ready for you, and it won’t be easy. Xan is quite possibly the greatest boss ever seen in a shooter.
Five different modes, each of which play with the same fast pace and originality. But .. what’s that you’re saying? ‘You haven’t told us about the guns Matt.’ Ah, of course, the guns, without which any shooter would be nothing. Unreal features quite a selection.
On beginning a level, you start out with the bog-standard Enforcer, merely a standard pistol. Better dispose of this quickly if you don’t wanna be made into mincemeat. Unreal features all the weapons you’ll find in any shooter, such as the grenade launcher, machinegun, sniper rifle, plasma gun, and the customary but deadly rocket launcher. But Unreal has more; a much wider arsenal. There’s the BioRifle, which fires green gloops of toxic waste, the Ripper, which launches razor-sharp discs at a high rate of knots, and the Flak Cannon, which fires red-hot shrapnel. There’s also the Redeemer – this baby is big. Firing it releases a nuclear warhead which, when detonated, vaporises anything within its radius. Just make sure to get out of the way before that happens.
Not happy with merely following other shooting games, however, Epic Games, the creators of Unreal, added a twist. Each gun on Unreal has not one but TWO functions. I won’t describe them all, but suffice to say they’re all interesting and absolutely necessary if you’re gonna become champion.
That’s all very well, I hear those of you who are still awake say, but what about, y’know, multiplayer? Yes, although Unreal’s computer opponents are frighteningly realistic, nothing compares to a match-up with real human opponents, be they on the other side of the world or in the next room.
Unreal doesn’t disappoint. Despite the game being nearly five years old, there’s still a thriving online community waiting to give you a game. It’s so easy to while away hours doing this – the thrill and level of immersion in the game is unmatched, even if you are like me and are hopelessly outclassed!
That’s a point .. if you do feel that your skills need brushing up, Unreal has a very cool practice mode, allowing you to release your anger on computer opponents of various skill levels. The skill level is adjustable in the main game, too, from ‘Novice’ where guns are an optional extra to ‘Godlike’ where if you move you’ll get shot.
So to sum up? Unreal is a good game .. in fact, Unreal is a very good game. The various modes offer enough entertainment to keep you occupied for hours, and the levels are very interesting and well presented. (And if you get tired of them there’s loads more on the internet!) The computer opponents are almost frighteningly realistic, and the online mode is great too.
In conclusion, I love it. I’ve seen it for just £5 now, so if you have any interest in shooting games at all, or even if you don’t, you owe it to yourself to buy this. An all-time classic.
Some technical details for those who understand what the hell Matt’s on about: Being a few years old, Unreal’s minimum computer specifications aren’t that demanding. Anything made in the last few years will be fine; a 300 MHz PC will play the game, a 1 GHz machine will keep it running nicely. A 3D card adds to the experience but isn’t required.
product description unreal tournament iii unleashes the power of unreal engine 3 taking ... more
graphics gameplay and challenges to a whole new level players engage in intense and hyper real battles with other human players online or against unreal artificial intelligence over two dozen weapons and vehicles have been upgraded and enhanced for maximum killing potential take on all corners in a variety of game modes including deathmatch team deathmatch capture the flag and all new warfare mode and more fo