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Unreal Tournament 2003 Preview
game: Unreal Tournament
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
date posted: 09:10 AM Tue May 28th, 2002
last revision: 05:35 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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By Paul Cockeram

The long-awaited sequel to one of the most popular arena-style FPSs is on the horizon, even if no firm release date has been established. Unreal Tournament 2003 is definitely the most stylish UT to date, but graphics alone don\'t make this game. There\'s also a selection of 48 characters within five different themes, new weapons, and a new team-based game that\'s destined to become a clan favorite.

New character sets range from the dignified Egyptian-style royalty to the harsh punks of the Allerian penal colony, while the Nightmare class threatens to unseat the Aliens as the best dressed. Robots round out the bunch, though they lack the horns or bones to truly be considered badass.

No matter which character you choose, however, the Unreal Warfare engine will make you and the world you blast apart look gorgeous. The graphics in UT2k3 are simply the best the industry can offer. The shadows of tree leaves sway across the green, green grass, while water becomes agitated as characters run through it, the reflections of overhead cliffs distorting and then realigning. A new particle system makes gunfire bright and dynamic-particularly notable is the new rippling plasma stream of the pulse gun.

The pulse gun is even more notable, however, for a new feature: aim the green stream at an ally and that stream turns yellow, feeding your ally its power. That extra power helps the ally\'s shots rip harder into enemies. The effect is cumulative, so that a whole team can feed power to one player, who can then fire some kind of super bullet. If that doesn\'t have you drooling, consider this: in addition to the good old Redeemer, UT2k3 presents a homing gun that calls in an air strike from an orbiting ion canon satellite, ripping the flesh from your enemies\' bones and making you smile. The impact hammer has been updated to a short-range plasma hammer that can also form a shield for short durations--a defensive component sure to throw a wrench into currently fashionable UT strategy. Also mixing things up is a new feature of the translocater, which can only fire five times before needing a recharge, though to compensate the homing disc fires farther and can be used as a remote camera.

Death match, team death match, and capture the flag are all intact. Domination has become double-domination, in which the two teams begin equidistant from two points that must both be tagged and held for ten seconds in order to score a point. A brand new game is bombing run, in which two teams race to grab a bomb-ball at the center of the map and get it through a loop in the enemy\'s base. The ball can be shot through the loop or, for maximum points, carried in a dramatic leap.

Expect an even greater degree of support for mods and maps in this installment. To speed up mapmaking, as well as shorten the overall learning curve, players can add high polygon prefabricated items and structures that will ship with the game. Other touches will invite creative input from the playing community, continuing this season\'s trend of taking the interactive capabilities of all games to the next level.

For fans of UT, this title is an obvious must-buy. But there\'s plenty here to attract newcomers and turn them into hardcore fans. The hardware system requirements aren\'t even scheduled to be prohibitive-minimum graphics requirements will be in the TNT2 range. Because true artistry cannot be rushed, Infogrames won\'t commit to any hard release date. The best bet is, ahem, some time in 2003.