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Review by: Daniel King
Published: November 22, 2002
Epic Games and Digital Extremes’ highly anticipated first-person shooter is finally here. It’s been three years since the original Unreal Tournament, and Epic’s follow-up aims to maintain the series’ popularity. Doing so should be a relatively simple task, as the Unreal Tournament titles are a welcome departure from all of the realistic team-based shooters like Counter-Strike and Ghost Recon. In contrast to that genre, UT2003 aims to offer players superb visuals along with tons of visceral action and less thinking.
The latest incarnation of Unreal Tournament makes several changes to the original’s gameplay. In an attempt to simplify the product’s learning curve, new players are given the opportunity to view a few basic tutorials. Once they’re familiar with their weaponry and the goals of each of the modes, players are ready to roll. The first of UT2003‘s departures becomes apparent immediately: It only has five gameplay modes. The first Unreal Tournament came with six modes; the sequel scraps three of those, including the extremely popular Assault mode, and adds two new ones.
As you’d expect, traditional Deathmatch returns in UT2003. This mode is as straightforward as first-person shooters get. The objective is simply to shoot anything that moves. Whoever has killed more opponents than anyone else when time runs out is the winner. The title also includes Team Deathmatch, in which you’ll be matched up against half of the current game’s players, or a selection of players and computer-controlled bots. Success here truly depends on communication, organization and coordination. Without teammates who work together to achieve a common goal, skilled players will make mincemeat of each person foolish enough to tempt fate. You’ll also have the chance to play Capture the Flag. Here, the goal is not to kill as many opponents as possible (though doing so is still beneficial to your cause), but to capture an opposing team’s flag and return it to your base while protecting your own. Think of it as the game you used to play in Boy Scouts, except this time, you’ll be armed to the teeth with assault guns and rocket launchers.
UT2003‘s new gameplay modes try to set the standard for future installments in the series. Placing a year beside the Unreal Tournament title suggests that not only will Epic be frequently adding additional products to the line, but also that they’re showing their athletic aspirations for future releases. UT2003‘s introduction serves to validate this inclination by presenting the tournament in a WWE-like manner. It depicts thousands of screaming fans, desperately attempting to attract the attention of their favorite stars, all of which are hulking, muscular combatants. The sporty atmosphere is further enhanced by a pair of eccentric announcers, just like you’d hear in a professional wrestling match.
The first of the new gameplay modes is Double Domination, a variation of Unreal Tournament‘s Domination mode. Once again, you’ll work in teams. This time, your team’s goal is to capture two strategically placed control points. Once your squad has captured both control points (this is done simply by touching them), a ten second countdown begins. If time expires without the dominating team losing one of their control points, then they score a point and a new round begins. Should the team being dominated recapture one of the control points, then the countdown is averted and play goes on. The team with the highest score when time expires is triumphant.
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