Review of Unreal Tournament
After reading all of the horror stories about the difficulties of converting the Unreal PC engine to the PS2 and witnessing the sluggish frame rates at E3 I wasnt really looking forward to reviewing this title to be honest with you. So without much interest, I robotically inserted the disc into our PS2 and hoped for the best.
The game boots up rather quickly and I am immediately thrown into the title/menu screen and treated to some wonderful Unreal music….hmmm. I do a quick scan and see that I can choose from Death Match mode...all righty. First game is a no brainer…gotta play me a death match. I select Brock and get dumped into the Oblivion map…cool. Things are definitely looking up. My interest is getting piqued…my heart is starting pick up its lethargic pace a bit.
Getting used to the controls is definitely a bit of a chore at first, but there is little time to become comfortable…bots are starting to stream into my field of vision…gotta get me something better to shoot than my default Impact Hammer and Enforcer handgun. I quickly back up, strafe right and turn a bit…yep, got me a Flack Cannon…its off to the races! I lay the law down on my first five bots and am greeted with that deep ominous voice informing me that I am officially on a killing spree…I crack my first smile… Damn, Im glad I popped this sucker into the PS2….
And so it goes, another true testimonial from yours truly. Unreal Tournament ended up being an unreal, yet pleasant surprise. The game actually gives you an interesting option in the beginning and that is to enter the tutorial mode. For first time Unreal players, this will get you introduced to some of the weapons, gameplay and bots. For the veteran, this mode will get you used to the controller. Of course the friendly game designers at Epic have also programmed in the option of plugging in a USB keyboard and mouse if you so choose…and guess what it works…it works real fine…ah, life is good. Truly though, once you get the knack of the controller there will be no need to drag out a keyboard and mouse…the game controls superbly and has actually been tweaked around the PS2s controller capabilities. Players will find a nice target lock feature by pressing the R3 button (pressing down the right thumb pad) that works nicely as well as auto centering by pressing the L3.
Not stopping there, UT comes intact in the map department and as a bonus we get an additional 14 maps have been created for this PS2 version! Total map count is 50 stretched out over the four game modes.
Gameplay progresses up the Death Match ladder in typical UT style as more maps are unlocked and additional levels are opened up as well as unlocking 9 of the 20 available characters that are in the game for you to choose from.
Other gameplay modes that you can unlock through the Death Matches are Domination, Capture the Flag and Assault. In the Domination and Assault modes you can even control other bots to flank you and take out enemies. Pressing the Select button will bring up a list of commands that can be issued to your infantry…just highlight and execute.
One last feature to mention is the multiple multi-player options. With a multi-tap you can split the screen into four segments and have a field day with your buddies through the various levels. Then for you PC/console geeks there is the iLink feature…when used with an iLink hub you can connect four PS2s together. Of course you will also need four copies of the game and four TVs…but it is a great option to throw in there in light of not being able to go online…yet.
So how does UT look on the PS2? Well, for the PC snobs out there it quite honestly cannot compete with a high end PC running in 1280 x 1040 at 60+fps. What we have here is a 640 x 480 television display running at a comparatively lethargic 30fps. Is this a bad thing? Well I would certainly think so to anyone that has played the PC version in the higher res modes but for people that play games on consoles and have always wanted to play (and see) UT, the PS2 version stacks up quite nicely. People need to keep in mind that this was a relatively quick port of the Unreal game engine that is very PC centric (it eats RAM). I completely expect the next Epic FPS to be even better looking than this once they take better advantage of the PS2 hardware and mod the graphics engine appropriately.
The game is rich in textures (not as good as the PC though…okay, broken record. I will stop now) and manages to retain the overall slick presentation of its PC counter-part. The game looks nice for certain.
The character animations have also been taken up a notch and are actually BETTER than the PC version (yeah!) with the models featuring much more realistic and fluid movement. Even at 30fps, everything moves real quick in the one-player mode. Start splitting the screen though and there is some slowdown when things start to get hairy like a lot of bots and explosions happening at the same time. This could have been tweaked better to be sure. Overall though this is a splendid looking title with all of the wonderful special effects and graphical touches that UT is famous for (the meaty chunks of exploded flesh is still my fav).
Sound-wise the game is an adrenaline rush. All of those great UT techno beats are in there and boy do they fit in nicely. When pushed through a nice sound system, gamers are enveloped in the wonderfully atmospheric sounds of this game.
Sound effects are totally on the money and the ominous voice that echoes out from nowhere is deep and resonating. I also like the sound of the meat chunks splatting on the floor.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Unreal Tournament' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
Click here to view our 18 Unreal Tournament in-game screenshot slideshow
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