Review by solidus snake777
"It's like the original, but better!"
Unreal Tournament 2004 took the original Unreal Tournament, fixed all the problems, and added in new ones, brining the total up to 11 (Assault, Capture the Flag, Double Domination, Death Match, Team Death Match, Invasion, Mutant, Last Man Standing and Onslaught). However, only 5 of these are really used during the main game and online (Assault, Capture the Flag, Double Domination, Bombing Run, DM/Team DM, and Onslaught, counting DM/Team DM as one mode).
Assault is an objective-based team game. Simply put, in Unreal Tournament original, it stunk. While the concept was good, the way it was carried out was not (all the objectives involved shooting targets until they blew up). However, this mode has been semi-redone for Unreal 2004. First off, there are more types of objectives (things like standing in place without getting killed to flip a switch, bringing vehicles to certain places, and reaching certain destinations). The newly-added vehicles grant a whole new level of objectives and ways to complete them, and makes traveling between objectives in large levels a whole lot less boring. To give an example of the new complexity of Assault mode:
One of the Assault maps is the robbery of nuclear missiles between two trains. The attackers have to connect the trains, open the door to the other train, open the rear and side doors of the other train, and proceed to reaching and grabbing the missiles on the first train. Now, this might not sound too complex with just a bunch of people running around. The level is not as easy as it seems, however, with turrets on the second train (where most of the level takes place), and enemies sniping and rocketing you from unseen places on both trains.
Onslaught is a brand-new addition to the Unreal Tournament series, which is also the biggest user of everyone's favorite new Unreal addition, the vehicles. Onslaught is basically Battlefield 1942 (each team starts with 100 power, and you're attempting to drain the enemy's power to 0). However, unlike Battlefield 1942, Unreal adds it's own twist. Rather than having a constant drain of power, which speeds up and slows down depending on the number of bases owned by either side, each team has to connect their main base (called a Power Core) to the enemy's Power Core through a series of smaller bases (Power Nodes). The beauty of this system is that neither team can attack bases that aren't directly attached to theirs.
To make the travel time between bases faster and to help destroy enemy bases, vehicles have been added in, all of which are distinctly different. You have the Manta (a speedy but weak hover car), the Scorpion (a bit slower than the Manta, but with more armor and better damage), the Hellbender (a 3-seater truck), the Raptor (a plane that's also the fastest vehicle), the Goliath (a tank) and the Leviathan (a 5-seater war machine with the ability to kill just about anything in one hit with it's stationary mode, yet is slower than a slug). While the vehicles are very powerful, they can still be destroyed by other vehicles and infantry with anti-vehicle rockets, making it quite balanced .
The addition of voice chat is a major thing for Unreal 2004, especially for Onslaught. Voice chat allows for very fast synchronization between players, and is almost a counter to vehicles (allowing for very fast backup). All in all, Onslaught is so huge that it probably could've been released as it's own game.
Bombing Run, back from Unreal 2003, is basically football with weapons. Each team is after a ball (the holder of which cannot use weapons, but regenerates health), which they must bring to the enemy base and shoot or run through a circular goal. However, Bombing Run is definitely not as good (or as widely played online) as Assault or Onslaught.
Double Domination is a remade version of Domination from Unreal Tournament original. The original Domination involved two teams fighting over control points in the map, which raised their scores over small intervals. However, the multiple control points essentially made the game a (run to all the control points and grab them, wait for other team to grab the ones that were left unguarded, come back and grab them again, repeat until round is done). Double Domination is almost a completely different game. Rather than having 4 to 6 points on a map, Double Domination only has two. However, instead of beating your opponents by holding more points, this time your team must hold both points simultaneously for 10 seconds. This might sound like a very easy task, but you'll find the enemy will come to the points very, very fast. Double Domination is another low one on the totem pole, as not many people play it online.
As for the weapons in this game (it is a first person shooter, after all), they're pretty much the same as they were in Unreal Tournament 2003. If you've played Unreal Tournament original, you'll still see a couple of familiar weapons, including the standard Machine Gun, Rocket Launcher, Bio-Rifle, Flak Cannon, and others. New weapons have been added in, including the AVRiL (Anti-Vehicle Rocket Launcher) and Link Gun (which has all sorts of uses, including healing vehicles and Power Nodes).
The rest of the modes are either self explanatory, or are online-only, and not considered one of the main modes of play.
Even though Unreal Tournament 2004 is a high-end game, it doesn't require much hardware. The minimum system specs are a 1 GHZ processor, 32 megabyte graphics card, and an Internet connection for online play. This catering to lower class systems is definitely a plus this game has over the upcoming Half Life 2 or Doom 3. I was able to run the game at full speed on an 866 MHZ computer, so if your machine doesn't meet the requirements, you may still be able to play.
Even with all the graphics set to Medium, Unreal Tournament 2004 looks several times better than the original, and still better than Unreal 2003. Some of the best graphics in the game are the Power Nodes being constructed (all sorts of lighting effects occur), the flaming and smoke effects (shoot down a Raptor with a rocket and you'll see what I mean), and the landscapes. The graphics make full use of Occlusion Culling for faster speed. The skins look alright (some of the redone human ones look sort of lumpy), but the newer skins all look spectacular.
The sound in 2004 is a huge improvement over the original Unreal Tournament. You have several different announcers giving updates throughout the game. The weapons all make noises that are pretty much what you'd hear if you actually fired one off (the rockets make a screaming noise when they whiz by you, the machine gun squeals as the barrels start rolling, and then lets off a constant stream of bullets effect).
Unreal Tournament 2004 is probably the best new online first person shooter out right now, and will more than likely remain that way, as I don't think too many people are anxious to buy a new PC to accommodate Half-Life 2 and Doom 3. I'd highly recommend you go out and buy it.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/18/04
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