Unreal Tournament: My Brief Casual History

 *The opinions expressed in this blog are solely  that of the author. Epic Games is in no way affiliated or sponsoring this blog. Unless stated otherwise stated, the rights to any imagery or in game footage belongs to Epic Games and any parties affiliated with the production and development of the game…hope you enjoy my thoughts!*

Despite the saying (the one about “making an ass of u and me”… look it up) I love making assumptions…and I assume anyone who’s gamed on a PC after 1999 has most likely heard of Unreal Tournament.

For those that haven’t…shame on you! Unreal Tournament (I’ll be calling it UT from this point on) is a first person arena style shooter based on Epic Games Unreal which was a single player experience utilizing the then revolutionary Unreal Engine. I never bothered to look up what arena style shooter actually means… I just always assumed it to mean adrenaline pumping fast-paced player vs. player game play would be involved, because that’s pretty much what UT is all about.

Nostalgia Goggles…ON!

ut-character-gallery
The characters…my go to was always Malcom.

There were two types of gamers when it came to arena style Shooters; Those who  played UT, and those who played Quake. These two games were titans when they first released, with a dedicated fan base for both. I played a bit of Quake here and there, but not very much at all. I mostly played UT because I actually had regular access to it via a demo, and eventually the full game (what a glorious day that was).

When I first played UT99 on my parents PC, I was extremely impressed. I was impressed with the fast paced gameply, the cool looking weapons, the characters, the power ups, and the fact that my PC could run it to begin with! Not only was the core game fun, it also had the capability to add ‘mutators’ which were able to make changes to just about every aspect of the game. It was fast, fun, and I could always jump into a bot match and practice getting shot at, which is what I ended up doing most of the time…even still I couldn’t stop playing this game!

Unreal Tournament 2003 2004!

unrealtournament2004_l
UT2k4 will always be a classic.

I eventually moved on to other shooters as they were released, until my brother and I heard about Unreal Tournament 2003…which turned to be a disaster that no one talks about anymore. Epic pretty much fixed it, added more content, and re-released it as Unreal Tournament 2004!

The word on the street was Epic had intended to make UT a yearly release, similar to a sport game franchise (which explains the design choices made with the logo). This ended up not being the case, however this title was still a game changer (see what I did?).

UT2K4 took one of my favorite games and added a bunch of amazing things to it. New game modes, a new buttery smooth Unreal Engine, new characters, rag doll physics, and vehicles just to name a few. We had the same family PC, and it was STILL able to run this new title. One thing I always found random was the inclusion of the Egyptian character type…why are…where did they…how?! Oh who cares, they look awesome! It was with this title that my new go-to avatar became Horus.

HoRus
Some aspects of Horus’ character design resemble that of the Egyptian God of the same name. (screen shot taken using Nvidia Shadowplay)

This game also introduced the adrenaline system, which allowed you to activate temporary power ups to give you a competitive edge in battle, by entering a certain button combination. My go to’s are booster and speed; hitting down 4 times activates booster which regenerates health over time. Up 4 times gives you a massive speed increase (perfect for bombing run). Adrenaline can be earned by grabbing pill shaped power-ups or by fragging (killing) opponents.

adrenaline
Take your vitamins!

Onslaught and Bombing Run were two game modes that were added with this title, and they quickly became my favorites. Onslaught involved using vehicles to reach the other side of a large map, and destroy the opposing teams power core. However, it wasn’t quite that simple. In order to do damage to the enemies power core, you first had form a link to your own, using power nodes littered across the battlefield in between the two bases.

Bombing Run, is reminds me of football…only with guns! There’s a bomb or “ball” that both teams must scramble for, claim, and then get into the opposing teams ‘goal’. It could either be thrown in earning 1 point for your team or ran in by the player holding the ball earning a whopping 7 points! I’m pretty sure your avatar gets obliterated if you run it in to certain goals…but you get more points…so that’s good!

Once picked up, the ball prevents you from firing your weapon, you can however ‘pass’ the ball to other players. This leads to some interesting tactics…one of my favorites, was to launch the ball at an opposing player, using the element of surprise to quickly frag them, so I could then pick the ball back up and be on my way…or fail and get fragged myself.

Hours and hours of fun were had with this game, and I eagerly looked forward to future releases, because things were looking SO good. Unfortunately, the next few releases were underwhelming for me at best…Unreal Championship to me was simply UT2K4 for console and it’s sequel The Liandri Conflict was just kind of weird…the introduction to melee was cool, I just wasn’t feeling the game overall.

Unreal Tournament 3…It’s NOT Gears Of War

unreal_tournament_3-wide.jpg
Dispute it being a fun title…UT3 didn’t get the attention it deserved.

When Unreal Tournament 3 came out, I was filled with determination once again, this game looked like it was going to be badass! Part of why I was so pumped for it, was because Gears of War came out just a year before hand, and I had gotten to see the shiny new Unreal 3 Graphics Engine at it’s best. I saw the cover art for UT3 and it looked like it was going to be story driven and epic!

Unfortunately, UT3 fell by the way side for many potential players, simply because Gears of War was more popular. If you look at the two games side by side, the character models do bare some striking resemblance to one another. Even so, both games look play, and feel completely different.

GoW is a story driven third person shooter and while hectic at times, much slower paced in my opinion. Where as UT3 is a first person game, extremely fast paced and even though this installment had a story, the main focus was multiplayer. Despite these differences, there were many that feel like it was a stylistic rehash of GOW.

Fun Fact: Malcom was the first character to be designed in UE3…sooo technically that would mean that UT3 came first in (terms of development).

GOWvsUT.PNG
Straight from a UT Dev! (screen cap from Unreal Tournament Forums)

 

One I couldn’t get past was that it was on console, I bought UT3 originally for Xbox 360, and I hated it! Playing a UT game was just not the same on a console. Because of this (and a lack of a PC at the time) the game fell by the wayside for me as well.

However, many years later, I picked up an Unreal Steam Bundle which included every release in the Unreal franchise (minus Championship, which I’m OK with) including UT3…and this game is actually quite fantastic! Not trying to pull the master race card at all here…but some games where just meant to be played on a PC . The newer engine provides for some beautiful visuals, and one thing I certainly appreciated was the “campaign” mode which in reality consists of various matches vs bots with some cut scenes in between them…being the dirty casual I am…I’m not amazing at online multiplier when it comes to UT  (in fact, you could even say I suck at it) so this is perfect for me.

The 4th Generation

I had just about given up on the dream of a new UT that would get my blood pumping again. This was before I grabbed the UT bundle I have now and it had been quite some time since I had last played UT2k4 and I had since moved on to other shooters such as Call of Duty Modern Warfare and occasionally Halo (mostly for the co-op campaign).

It was then, after a random Google search, I came across a UT logo that I had never seen before:

Unreal_Tournament_(2014_video_game)_logo

Que up The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack, because this discovery had me saying “What’s this? WHAT’S THIS!?” I had to know more. Information wasn’t hard to find, thanks to the new Unreal Tournament Webpage which showed off some truly jaw dropping visuals from the new Unreal Engine, which is in it’s 4th iteration now.

It got better….the new UT is free…that’s right FREE! Epic games had also decided to release the Unreal Engine 4 to anyone with an interest in development. The idea behind this was to make development of the new UT a community driven project. Epic has even provided several tutorials to help get started editing and creating your very own content using UE4.

I think this was a brilliant, bold move forward for Epic Games. With all the raw talent out there plus the input from the community of UT veterans, this is shaping up to be the definitive UT experience.

The New UT (UT4) is still in the Pre-Alpha phase, and is still undergoing game play, level, and even character model tweaks. Even though it’s still Pre-Alpha, there’s still an amazing professional league dedicated to this game. If you’ve been looking for  a new UT experience, grab yourself a copy of the Epic Games Launcher. This will allow you to download UT4 as well as Unreal Engine 4, and keep up on any updates. I also highly recommend having a look at the forums. Some of the response from the community is fantastic, and I think this game has tons of potential to rival many of today’s fully released shooters costing $60. Has the king returned? We’ll have to wait and see…

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