Review by FN1004

"Third time's the charm"

Ah, yes, a return to the everlasting addiction of oh so violent Unreal Tournament. There's nothing like fragging everyone in sight, taunting your opponent, and then doing it all over again. And with the additions in this year's addition, Epic has only took what made the first games great and improved on it in Unreal Tournament 2004.

The most obvious and talked-about new feature is Onslaught. In Onslaught, you have to take control of several "Power Nodes" in order, until the last one, where the enemy "Power Core" is vulnerable and can be destroyed, to win the match. Now, players get to enter vehicles as they dominate their opponents. Words cannot express the level of enjoyment that comes from pancaking an enemy in a Manta, finding another group of enemies, and killing all of them with one fell swoop. Not to mention it is the most strategic mode in the game, while you have to protect your core, your power nodes, and yourself, all while maintaining offense at the same time.

UT2003 took Assault out, which in my opinion, was perhaps the best feature that UT had to offer. In Assault, a team has to complete a series of objectives within a given time limit, and the opponents have to defend them. After time runs out or the scenario is completed, the teams switch roles and the new offensive team has to complete the course in a shorter time. Assault has now returned in full glory, with clean, crisp maps that make this mode feel like an entirely different game.

The various other modes include the standard frag-fest of DeathMatch, Team DeathMatch, Capture the Flag, Invasion, where one team has to defend against a wrath of aliens, Mutant, where one person is the mutant with superhuman powers, and whoever kills him becomes the mutant, Double Domination, which is sort of like King of the Hill, Last Man Standing, Bombing Run, which is basically football meets deathmatch, and Instagib CTF, which is CTF with one-hit KOs. With all of these modes in one game, you'll never get tired fragging it out with the many who play online.

The single player game consists of picking your character, going through solo qualification, picking a team, going through team qualification, and then completing each of four ladders. It is a decent solo experience, but online is so much better, making solo obsolete, except for honing your skills.

With all 95 new maps released with the game and all of these modes, it pains me to say that this game takes up a whole heck of a lot of space. It comes in 5 discs, and takes up roughly 5 gigabytes, put this and Far Cry on your PC, and it doesn't leave room for much else. For those that already have 2003, it isn't that big of an increase, but unless your hard drive is just for games, you'll find yourself with a lot less room than you had before.

With all said of the new features, all that is left is the breakdown of the game mechanics.

Graphics: 10 It really doesn't get much better than this. What amazes me even more is that it is able to be played on virtually any computer, as the settings are so customizable.

Sound: 8 It's just great. Nothing's better than the satisfaction of hearing the announcer gruesomely scream "Head Shot", or "Rampage". Also, along with the explosion sounds, and the music, it really picks up the pace and makes it even faster and more alive, rather than the dreary slow fighting in online Halo for the PC.

Playability: 10 The controls are flawless, as the should be, and nothing gets in the way of playing. Online lag issues are less prominent than ever, as the game never stops. I never have to be at a "Waiting for Player" dialog like in Warcraft or Starcraft, and I never get the disconnect box from Halo PC. All i get are a few bumps and glitches here and there, but the game is still moving. Also involved in playability is how fun the game is. UT 2004 is so perfectly balanced, with no weapon clearly dominating another. Even the Redeemer, the most powerful weapon in the game, can be compromised by being shot down. Never before in a game have I seen such perfect refinement and balance.

Story: 4 Story? What story? There's a big deathmatch tournament, and you're in it. Thats all. It's so non-existent, I'm not going to include it in the overall rating.

Overall: 9/10 Each mode could be treated as its own game, and with all of this variety and replay value, it will be considered as the best online shooter for some time, hopefully until UT2005.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/30/04

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