Review by joshakacartman

"Best Online Multiplayer There Is. Period."

Let me say this first. If you are not interested in playing online, don't get this game. The single player campaign, while amusing, is simply a side note in this game. Multiplayer is what this game was made for.

I picked up the DVD Special Edition a couple of days ago, and I haven't wanted to stop playing once. By the way, the difference between the Special Edition and the regular edition is that the Special Edition includes: 2 DVDs (1 for the game instead of 6 CDs in the regular edition, and the other DVD contains expert video tutorials), also includes a Logitech brand headset-microphone (for voice chat), and a couple of cheapy Atari stickers. That's pretty much it, besides the cool shiny box the special edition comes in.

On to the game review!!

This game has everything that Unreal Tournament 2003 had, and much more. All the same weapons and maps appear, joined by 40 new maps, a new game mode called onslaught, and a handful of new weapons. Also, probably the biggest improvement, is the addition of 6 drivable ground/air vehicles. There are also two types of space ships, but those are only used on a couple of maps, and are kind of boring.

The Vehicles
This alone makes this game better than any other online FPS. The 6 ground/air vehicles are: The Goliath Tank, the Hellbender, the Manta, the Leviathan, the Scorpion, and the Raptor. All vehicles are able, most satisfyingly, to crush or run over players on foot, in a bloody, ''vehicular manslaughter'' mess.

The Goliath tank is your standard tank, heavily armored but far from indestructible. Can hold two players, one driver who fires the main cannon, and one heavy machine gunner. Packs a big punch, capable of blowing apart most of the other vehicles in a single shot.

The Hellbender us a heavy duty truck, bearing a remarkable resemblance to a Hummer. This truck is moderately armored, and much faster than the tank. It can hold 3 players: one driver, one rear turret gunner, and one side turret gunner. The rear turret consists of dual plasma projectors, which cause pretty fair damage. The side turret operates identically to the pulse rifle, capable of firing small pulse shots, or large charged pulse orbs which can be detonated by an additional pulse shot.

The Manta is much like the Ghost in Halo. It is a hovercraft, capable of holding one player, and firing plasma bursts at a high re-fire rate. The key difference between the Manta and the Ghost is that the Manta can leap into the air, allowing it to fly over great distances. This is very useful for avoiding obstacles, and reaching destinations fast. Also, the secondary fire mode causes the Manta to hover very low to the ground and scrape, allowing you to crush players beneath. A very useful vehicle in Onslaught!

The Leviathan is a beast of a vehicle. It is capable of holding 5 players: One driver who can fire rear mounted rockets, and four passengers that man anti-vehicle turrets in each corner. The Leviathan is capable of deploying, which locks it into its current position, and then firing a huge quantum-fusion implosion, that decimates anything within its range. Super-heavily armored, this thing is very hard to destroy.

The Scorpion is a very fast and lightly armored buggy, with two weapons at its disposal. Holding 1 player, the driver can fire the rear mounted turret which shoots a string of plasma charges that wrap around any target and explode. The second mode of fire is quite gruesome, and quite awesome. By pressing the secondary fire, the Scorpion snaps out two razor sharp slings that are capable of decapitating and cleaving through any unlucky players that get in the way.

The Raptor is the only one of the 6 vehicles capable of actual prolonged flight. Like the Banshee in Halo(sorry to go there again) it's a small one-man fighter that has two modes of fire: two primary plasma emitters, and a secondary missile launcher. Neither weapon packs a particularly strong punch, but with the ability to fly around your enemy and dodge fire, you can take out even heavily armored targets. Lightly armored, it is a very fast means of getting around any map, but it doesn't take much to bring one down. Very handy for covering long distances fast.

New Weapons
All of your old friends are here: the Link Gun, Bio Rifle, Shield Gun, Shock Rifle, Rocket Launcher, Assault Rifle, Flak Cannon, Lightning Gun, Minigun, Translocator, Grenade Launcher, Ion Painter and even the Sniper Rifle is back. These are now joined by the AVRil anti vehicle missile launcher, Redeemer mini nuke launcher, the Mine Layer, and the target painter. The AVRil missile launcher is a very much need addition along with the new vehicles. This launcher can lock onto any vehicle or ground turret and fire a missile that will track your target as long as you keep it in your sights. This gives ground forces a fighting chance against vehicles, and is especially useful against the Raptor. The Mine Layer is a very handy defensive weapon, allowing you to place spider mines that will attack any enemies that come near by. The secondary fire deploys a targeting laser that the spider mines will follow, attacking any things on the way. The Redeemer is the most impressive of the new weapons. It is a small nuclear device that fires a slow moving missile that does enormous amounts of damage. Capable of taking out a node in one shot in Onslaught mode, this is a very powerful weapon indeed. The secondary fire allows you to guide the missile from a mounted camera, but leaving you vulnerable while doing so. The Redeemer is a one shot only weapon, exhausted after a single use. Last, the target painter emits a targeting laser that marks an area for the Phoenix Bomber to carpet bomb, resulting in huge amounts of damage.

This is the new gameplay mode added, which joins 9 other modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Double Domination, Bombing Run, Last Man Standing, Invasion, Mutant, and one of my favorites, Assault. Onslaught is a multiplayer dream come true. Two teams battle for control of nodes strategically placed across the map. Each team has a main Power Core, and the objective is to destroy the other teams Core. However, you can only damage the Core by being linked to it by a string of Power Nodes. So your team must connect the dots between your Power Core and the enemies in order to destroy it. Each match is a race to build as many nodes in a string to reach the other teams Core. If a node is already claimed by the other team, you have to destroy it to take it over. However, you can only damage a node that you are connected to by one of you own nodes. Sounds complicated at first, but after a couple of matches, it becomes second nature. This is an extremely addictive, strategic and entertaining mode, making for some outrageous matches.

Granted, this game is no DOOM 3 by any means, but the graphics in UT2004 have been upgraded from previous iterations. The characters are well detailed and the levels nicely textured. Each map feels polished and detailed with foliage, giving them a very smooth feel. Overall the graphics are solid all around.

Pretty much the same as the previous Unreal titles. Smooth and responsive. Your character can jump, double jump, dodge and crouch.

The gun effects are nothing spectacular, but solid none the less. The music is very fitting and somewhat diverse, so you don't feel like you're listening to a couple of songs rehashed over and over. The most important aspect of sound in any Unreal game is, of course, the announcers. The classic deep voiced announcer is back, spewing out your favorites, like ''Head Shot!'' and ''Rampage!''. New awards and announcements have been added, like the satisfying ''Pancake!'' as you smash a player under your Manta. Also, there is the ''sexy'' female announcer who defaults as the objective announcer. Both are fitting and very pleasing.

In the end this a great game, with almost unlimited re-playability. The new vehicles, weapons, maps, and Onslaught game mode are definitely worth purchasing this game. If you have broadband Internet connection, a halfway decent computer, and like First Person Shooters, this is a MUST HAVE.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/19/04

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