Unreal Tournament 2004
|a game by||Atari Co.|
|Editor Rating:||8/10, based on 1 review, 6 reviews are shown|
|User Rating:||7.2/10 - 10 votes|
|Rate this game:|
|See also:||Unreal Tournament Series, Arena Shooters|
Blur vs oasis. Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat. Monkeys on motorbikes vs those really smart dolphins that work for the navy. All the great rivalries of yesteryear, rendered redundant with the passing of time, in much the same way as all human affairs. And so too the long-running conflict between Unreal Tournament and Quake.
Outgunned by Counter-Strike, left for dead by the rise of the new hybrids, the old deathmatch stalwarts no longer rule the domain they forged, forced to scrabble for third and fourth place like rats competing for scraps. Quake, for its part, has bowed out quietly, Quake 4 now confirmed as a primarily single-player affair. Luckily, UT doesn’t play that way. The third game in the series, Unreal Tournament 2004. is currently nearing completion. It’s packed full of new ideas, it's as polished as a brass knocker and it has a whole new generation of online shooters set firmly in its sights.
UT2004 is set to be the most complete multiplayer shooter package ever assembled. Extending its remit to include vehicles and new teamplay modes. UT2004 is hoping to outgun the likes of Battlefield 1942 and PlanetSide and ride the trend of large-scale teambased gaming. At the same time, the game bolsters its support for all the established fan favourites, offering a shedload of new maps, character models, skins and gameplay tweaks. Add to this all the existing content from UT2003 and the various upgrade packs, and suddenly you have an all-you-can-eat FPS buffet of extraordinary proportions. Game modes now take in Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, CTF, Domination, Bombing Run, Mutant, Last Man Standing, Assault and the new Onslaught, along with countless mutators, variations and fan-created mods. There’s depth and girth here to make any pomstar proud. We met up with Epic Games this month to play the new game and chat with the lads, who were extremely excited about their big new package. "There were 37 maps in UT2003" enthuses Epic vice president Mark Rein.
"There’s more than 37 new maps in UT2004. So, there will be more new content in UT2004 than in the whole of the previous game. And you get all that in there too." "It’s massive bang for your buck, euro or currency of choice," chips in Jay Wilbur, strategic advisor to Epic Games.
"Plus, we’re better now at making maps with this technology," beams Mark. "So all the maps are improvements over those in UT2003. It’s not just more for the sake of more - they look better, they play smoother. Even our deathmatch maps are our best deathmatch maps ever."
Having only played a couple of the new deathmatch maps, we’re hard pushed to verify this claim, though certainly the ones we've seen seemed focused and playable. Some of the maps in UT2003 lost their way in their desire to show off the graphical clout of the new engine - think of the soaring trees of Tokara Forest and the complex terrain of DM-Antalus. Though stunning, they didn't prove all that much fun to play, and it’s this that Epic is clearly trying to avoid in UT2004.
A Classic Reborn
However, the real killer content for UT2004 consists in the two new team-based game modes - Assault and Onslaught. The first of these will be instantly familiar to fans of the original game, as it’s a direct remake of one of the old and much-loved UT modes. Basically speaking, Assault pits two teams against each other in an objective-led struggle for domination - Team A attacks a series of objectives and Team B defends them. The key to its popularity the first time round was the cleverly designed maps, which offered a brilliant tactical atmosphere as attackers advanced and retreated through the choke points, inching in fits and starts towards their objective. This time, the maps are bigger, more dynamic and far more varied in style, at least one actually taking place in space, replete with nimble fighter ships and frenzied dog fighting.
"All of the new Assault levels are designed to represent famous historical battles from the Unreal universe," explains Mark. "The Mothership level is a battle from the original Unreal, which takes advantage of some of our space-borne vehicles. It’s totally different from anything we’ve had in an Unreal game before. As the attackers you're the humans, while the mothership is manned with Skaarj. At the start you’re in a spaceship, while the Skaarj players have a choice of manning turrets or jumping in their own attack ships to fend you off." "The old Assault mode was fast, it was quick," clarifies Jay. "In the new mode there are multiple layers and multiple objectives. In the Mothership level you have to destroy the shield generators while fighting in space, then land in the docking bay. Then you’re running around inside the mothership and there's another set of objectives to complete."
Each of the levels also has one or more secondary objectives. In Mothership, once you’ve breached the docking bay and boarded the ship, you can go and shut the Grav Units off, which causes all sorts of hilarity and headaches for the defenders. It allows the attacking team to float in through air-ducts as well as streaming down the catwalks, and a stack of conveniently placed crates starts to drift around as well. In some maps you can create forward spawn points, as in Enemy Territory. "We’ve worked hard to make Assault play longer and cooler." says Jay. "But without losing a sense of focus." A host of new devices have also been introduced to make Assault as accessible as possible. Each map has a fly-through tutorial (a kind of voiced walkthrough) for complete newcomers, while bloody great arrows point you in the right direction during the game. Best of all though, you can press the 'N’ key at any time to send a small glowing wisp off in the direction of the next objective. Follow the wisp and you'll never get lost again.
The second new game mode added to UT2004 is Onslaught, a sprawling vehiclebased affair that borrows ideas from Battlefield 1942, PlanetSide and Enemy Territory while retaining a distinct flavour of its own. Of all the new features in UT2004, this is without doubt the most significant, and Epic is doing its damnedest to get it right. "Onslaught is a game type we developed to really show off the vehicles we’ve put in the game," explains Jay. "It's team-based and multi-objective-based. Each team starts out with a power core, and the two cores are linked by a network of power nodes that spans the map. Your goal is to capture a number of nodes to make a direct chain between your power core and the enemy’s power core. Once you’ve got that direct chain set up you can attack the enemy’s core and destroy it."
It may sound complicated on paper, but the Onslaught gameplay ts instantly recognisable in practice. It's essentially just a more organised, futuristic version of Battlefield 1942. Instead of running around randomly trying to control all the points at once, you advance gradually from one side of the map to the other, always knowing which point you need to capture next. To capture an open node you simply run across it, after which it will slowly power up to full strength (though you can use the alt-fire on the link gun to speed it up), and to take an enemy's node you first have to reduce its power to zero by blasting the crap out of it. It’s simple, potentially very tactical and already fun.
Give Me More
Much of the jollity in Onslaught arises from piloting the new vehicles (see boxout), though as there aren’t always enough rides to go around, you often find yourself trudging about on foot. This can be frustrating, but there are at least some cool new weapons to keep you occupied. There’s the bulky AVRiL. or Anti-Vehicle Rocket Launcher, which is capable of taking most vehicles out with one or two of its homing rockets. There are the sticky grenades, which can be stuck all over a vehicle or enemy and detonated remotely, and then there are the awesome Spider Mines, undoubtedly our favourite new weapon. These little critters are semi-autonomous robots that can be fired at the ground and left to their own devices. If there are no enemies around they'll sit and wait, but as soon as one wanders in their vicinity they'll come to life and launch an explosive kamikaze attack at their face.
Onslaught is quite a departure from the traditional UT gameplay. Without it. and to a lesser extent the recharged Assault mode. UT2004 would be very much a straight expansion pack. Whether these new modes are enough to challenge the likes of Battlefield 1942 remains to be seen, though there’s no denying they’ve already produced a lot of laughs in the office. Luckily, we don't have to wait long to find out. as the game is very nearly complete. We fully expect to have the UK's first review of UT2004 in our very next issue, so tune in then for our definitive verdict.
The Power Of Voice
Epic Revives The Oral Tradition With Voice-Controlled Bots
UT2004 features potentially one of the coolest developments in squad-based games in years: voice-controlled Al bots. Put simply, this allows you to forego keyboard shortcuts for commanding Al players, and shout at them through a headset instead. So, if you're about to make a brave dash for an objective, you could turn to your computer-controlled cohorts and bellow: "Alpha, cover me. Delta, attack the objective. Gamma, hold position." Or something like that.
Epic has been reluctant to talk about the feature until recently, as the technology has needed a lot of fine-tuning, but they’re now happy to start bragging. "We considered it absolutely necessary for the new game, but it didn’t actually come into fruition until recently," says Jay Wilbur. "You’ve only got a limited set of commands - it’s not like those talking typewriter things where you can train it to understand your voice, ft's more like those telephones that you can pick up and tell it 'call so-and-so’. It works really well."
Other games to offer Al voice recognition include SWAT: Global Strike Team and Rainbow Six 3 on Xbox, but UT2OO4 is set to be the first on PC. Needless to say, we expect to see more of this type of functionality in the future - not just for giving orders to bots, but Issuing a range of commands to the game itself ("open door", "release chaff", "launch torpedo", etc), and eventually, perhaps, having something approaching a conversation with bots. In the meantime, it's going to save a lot of time spent faffing around with command menus.
Download Unreal Tournament 2004
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
It's been over a decade since the release of id Software's seminal Doom title, and over that time, multiplayer first-person action has pretty much become a sport itself, just like the FIFAs and NBAs of this world. It was surely only a matter of time then until an astute developer would eventually go and do an EA Sports in an attempt to corner the market for virtual reality combat, with a yearly update of the franchise. Step forward Epic.
Its latest Unreal Tournament game follows directly from last year's edition - and by this time next year, UT2005 will surely be beating on our bulkhead. Which leaves you with one key question to answer: if you bought last year's game, a bit like FIFA 2003, then should you buy this? The answer is a very definite and predictable: "Hell, yeah!"
Whereas UT2003 was justified by the obvious graphical and much-needed control improvements over its 1999 predecessor, this year's release adds much more meat to the bones. Mildly enhanced graphics, new player models, a far friendlier user interface and some new weapons are to be expected and are heartily welcomed. However, it's the new team-centred gameplay modes - the return of an old favourite particularly - and the introduction of driveable vehicles that make this such an exciting and important addition to the Unreal lineage.
With Deathmatch increasingly going out of fashion and CTF superseded in turn by the likes of Counter-Strike, Battlefield 1942 and Planetside. it was obvious Epic had to do something to bring down the young pretenders to the FPS throne. In little over a year, it's not only managed to provide a distinct and enjoyable alternative, but one that in many ways makes these games look at times amateurish by comparison. In the new Onslaught mode especially. Unreal Tournament offers a means to engage in vehicular combat that, though smallscale in comparison to the likes of even Tribes, certainly doesn't feel as such.
Rather than flag or frags, Onslaught's currency of import is power - or, to be precise, the flow of it across the map. Each side, red or blue, begins with a home base, the centrepiece of which is the electrical power core. Lose the core and you lose the match, simple as that.
To keep each side from rushing into the enemy base to secure a swift victory, each side's power core is shielded. The only way to bring it down is to gain control of a chain of power nodes until you have a link running from your power core to that of your enemy. Of course, the enemy is trying to run a similar link to you too, and with nodes regularly changing hands, life is certainly never dull.
The genius of Onslaught mode, though, lies not in its simplicity, but in the design of the maps. Although in some cases these are vast, they always manage to ensure that you're not left wandering around lost and alone. Power nodes are never more than a minute's walk away either, and if it's under enemy control, simply destroy it and build your own (just walk on to the pad). However, if it's already under your control and not under attack, you can use it to teleport yourself closer to the action in the blink of an eye. Alternatively, you can climb aboard one of the vehicles that will be lying about and travel to the frontline in comfort and style.
Honk If You Love Jesus
Though there are only six vehicles available to you in Onslaught (plus another three in Assault games), they're all multifunctional, easy to control and most important of all a helluvalotta fun to drive - even if you happen to be on the wrong side of the steering panel.
Ironically, it's the two flimsiest modes of transport which are the most satisfying in Unreal Tournament. First, the Manta, a small hovercraft powered by twin fans which you can use to messy effect to slice up enemy grunts with a timely use of the jump key. It's a tricky skill to master for sure, yet even on the receiving end it's a hilarious way to meet a temporary end as your torso is sucked in and sliced into a fine red mist, leaving legs momentary spurting before crumpling to the ground.
Second, the Scorpion is similarly effective at bringing down infantry with its alt-fire switchblade scythes, which slice enemy troops in two. As satisfying as it is to mow through a squad of troops though, there rapidly approaching blades by running up a nearby hillock and suddenly leaping up as the oversized knives sweep as the much loved sniper rifle from the original game (which almost makes the Lightning Gun redundant, but we're not going harmlessly under your feet. This is especially true if the hapless driver neglects to sheath his vehicular vanes before ploughing into a lamppost and tearing them from their fragile mounts.
Kiss Of The Spider Mine
To compliment the new mode of play and the various air and land-based vehicles. Epic has wisely seen fit to extend UT's already imposing arsenal. All the weapons from last year's game make a welcome return, as well to complain.
All- new to the UT gun rack is the AVRiL. a slow but deadly homing rocket launcher, along with a laser targeting device able to call in a devastating barrage of Redeemer bombs. There's also a grenade launcher whose magnetic ordinance can be hidden about enemy vehicles and detonated from a distance - good for eliciting a dastardly snigger towards a roomful of LAN entrenched players. Most gratifying of all are the Spider mines which, when placed in the path of an enemy will spring into motion and scuttle after them. Further comedy can be obtained with use of the weapon's alt-fire mode, which enables you to shepherd your arachnoid explosives with a laser pointer and chase people to their doom. Optional Benny Hill-style musical accompaniment would be most welcome right here if any mod authors are reading this.
Pass The Assault
Though Onslaught mode is worth the entrance fee alone, it would be remiss (not to mention plain rude) to overlook the return of UT's much missed Assault mode. Divided into Attackers and Defenders. Assault charges one team with the business of checking their way through a list of objectives, while the defenders try to thwart or at least delay their advance until the tuner runs out. When it does, or if the attackers complete their mission, the two sides swap places and the action begins.
In the original UT, it was the D-Day-inspired Overlord mission that was the pick of the bunch of Assault scenarios. This time, picking a winner is a much tougher call. Objectives are certainly more varied, for as well as simple checkpoints that need to be reached, some maps require you to hold an area for a certain time before further advances can be made. Walls and doors also need breaching, gun emplacements require elimination and in some cases, vehicles need to be driven to safety.
Of the new Assault maps, the one that's received all the attention is the Mothership level, and for good reason. The aim is familiar: human forces must destroy the Skaarj, but in order to defeat the reptilian razorfingered foe, you must first land in the docking bay, which is shielded and powered by three massive generators. The only way to eliminate these is to climb aboard fighters and dogfight your way through space while Skaarj plasma turrets cut holes across the inky beyond.
Although control of the game's spacebound craft isn't quite as fluid as it was in say Freespace, the use of the common pool FPS key commands ensures control of the spacefighters - as with all the game's vehicles - is easy to master. Homing missiles and instant-hit laser cannons ensure combat is kept simple, yet frenetic and entertaining at all times too. Plus, although space battles are little more than zerogravity jousts, the change in scenery makes for a welcome diversion from all the land-based action around.
Once the shields are down and the docking bay is duly breached, the action proceeds on foot. And although the endgame is somewhat of a letdown, the preceding action more than makes up for it. It will be interesting to see what the developers of the promising Star Wars Troopers mod can come up with too, as I'm sure player-controlled speederbikes and snowspeeders are now high on the wishlist of new features to be added.
Mode To Joy
In order to allow UT2003 veterans continued Deathmatch enjoyment against 2004 newcomers, little has changed in the way the original gameplay modes play out. (Aside from a graphical makeover for the regular arsenal and a pack of new player models, that is.) The standard issue free-for-all fragmatch returns, along with its team-based variant. As with CTF, Double Domination and Bombing Run, the action remains unchanged.
Capture The Flag stays the same as it's ever been. Grab the enemy's banner and return home before the enemy steals yours. Best played with the InstaGib modifier, the seven new CTF maps vary in size - from an insane single corridor of joust to the vast expanse of an ancient and misty valley dominated by a Chinese temple. The latter is one of the most arresting UT levels we've seen, and one that, were it not for the endless cacophony of conflict, we'd quite like to picnic in someday.
The rest of the variants aren't so arresting. Domination is an infrequently tense game of capture-and-hold and Bombing Run a rather tedious future sports event, where the aim is to shoot a globe into the enemy's hole. Just a handful of new maps for each hint that Epic is content to just keep a low flame burning under them.
Depending on whether you downloaded last year's Epic Bonus Pack. Invasion, Mutant and Last Man Standing will be entirely new or achingly old hat. Either way, none are particularly awe-inspiring. Mutant simply highlights the leader for termination by the rest of the pack, while Last Man Standing is deathmatch but with three lives instead of an infinite supply.
Last, Invasion is a co-operative gang-bang against successive waves of Al creatures, which would probably be a lot of fun were it not for a swarm of insects that keep popping up.
Not that the lack of changes to Deathmatch or any of the other standard-issue gameplay modes are in any way disappointing. It's just that after playing Onslaught and Assault, they appear shallow and more than a little old-fashioned. If you want to know how UT2004's Deathmatch mode plays, a review of UT2003 will tell you all you need to know.
Not so much a welcome improvement as a necessary upgrade is the new Al code for the game's bots. Clearly, with the new Onslaught mode there was a need to teach UT's Al-assisted goons how, why and what to do with power nodes, not to mention how best to use each of the game's vehicles.
Considering how well Battlefield 1942's artificial lifeforms fared - which wasn't very well - Epic has done a remarkable job teaching its cast members the whys and wherefores of what is a rather more demanding game in comparison to BF1942's landgrab. As any adrenaline-fuelled player would do. the Al heads straight to the vehicles and handles them all remarkably well. They were even happy to repair damaged equipment.
There were a couple of instances of bots getting confused among a crowd of freshly-spawned recruits, but no more so than any human player would in the same situation. And anyway, a little artificial stupidly lends the bots a human quality that they were in danger of losing had there not been a rethink by Epic.
Whether online or off then, UT2004 is a triumphant success. It s certainly not the glorified expansion pack some - myself included - feared. The return of the old stalwart gameplay modes is welcome, despite the fact they will remain unexplored by most people. What's more, the backward compatibility of the game is a feature that will endure it to many veteran deathmatchers still refusing to jump aboard the teamplay bandwagon.
Save for a non-linear, dynamically-structured singleplayer campaign with endless replayability, UT2004 offers just about all you could ever want in a first-person shooter - and just a smidge more. Out of all the other vehicular shooters. UT2004 is by far the most visceral and accessible, and is almost always fun.
PlanetSide is certainly more 'epic' and rewarding in the longterm, but its size and scale is tempered by moments of excruciating boredom. Similarly, BF1942 may be a more realistic game and certainly a more varied and tactical one, but it's also marked by ungentlemanly play on public servers. What's more, the bots are poor, and on foot, the game is far from being as enjoyable as it is when mounted in a tank or swooping from the skies.
To return to the FIFA analogy, the difference between UT2003 and 2004 is vast, as if the former was just a kickabout in the park. My only worry is how Epic plan on topping it, because aside from bolting on new weapons, maps and vehicles, there isn't much else to be added apart from say a massively-multiplayer persistent-world mode. We'll see. In the meantime, there's more than enough to enjoy this season before we contemplate the next. Game on.
"TONS of new stuff - that's the theme for UT 2004." So saying, Mark Rein shoulders his anti-vehicle rocket launcher and locks on to another enemy Raptor, the nimble hovership dithering obliviously as the missile closes in. "Boom!" exclaims the sturdy Canuck, as his warhead connects, scattering flaming debris across the grassy terrain.
The excitable VP of Epic Games is showing off his latest pride and joy: UT2004's new Onslaught mode. It's a sweeping, team-based affair, using a range of powerful new vehicles to achieve unprecedented levels of UT carnage. It's the most significant addition to the new episode, and it's looking like stupid amounts of fun. Seven new vehicles shape the action, including lumbering Battle Tanks, agile buggies and deadly Bombers, while new weapons like sticky grenades and spider mines add all-new methods of UT butchery.
Alongside the new stuff, all the existing game modes are back, but tweaked, polished and fleshed out with new maps and a cool new sniper rifle. Better yet, the ace Assault mode is also set to make a triumphant return. It's a mighty package, and one that could put UTs arse firmly back on the FPS throne.
"This Is a major upgrade to UT 2003 and not a Gold Edition or whatever," said Steve Polge, programmer at Epic Games at E3 - the words we all wanted to hear. "We're adding more new content to Unreal Tournament 2004 than the total amount of maps and modes in UT2003."
Unreal Tournament 2004 is the latest in the violent first-person shooter series and introduces a truckload of new maps, weapons, characters, voice-over Internet support and most importantly, two additional multiplayer modes - Assault and Onslaught - complete with airborne and ground vehicles. Polge demonstrated the new modes to us recently at E3, which although are looking very nice indeed, were still very much a work-in-progress.
First up is Assault, similar to the very popular mode from the original UT, featuring single and multiplayer missionbased objectives played from the point of view of both the attacker and the defender. We were shown a map featuring humans laying siege to a Skaarj mothership - the scaly monstrosities from the Unreal universe are a new playable team and join other new character additions, including a clan of killer robots.
Using a new one-man spaceship, Polge blasted the large alien craft, destroying the shield generators to allow him to dock, while the Skaarj fired from fixed turrets and joined human fighters in frantic dogfights. Continuing on foot after docking his ship, Polge stormed into the Skaarj vessel, blasting anything that moved, and destroyed the engine core to complete the mission. The level then kicked off again (almost instantaneously, unlike the long loading times in UT) with the teams' roles reversed.
Hug My Face
Onslaught mode is much more vehicle-focused, uses bigger maps and involves players conquering bases by storming in and destroying their power core. The vehicles include fast skimmer hovercraft, buggies that can take up to three players, a slow-moving but powerful tank, a fighter bomber and the 'Raptor' - a flying craft which manoeuvres like a helicopter.
Gameplay-wise, we were struck by the similarities to Halo's wide-open levels and vehicle combat, and Tribes' feeling of multiplayer battles. But the game still retains the unique UT feel - never more than when using one of the three new multiplayer weapons, the Spider Mine. These robotic arachnids, once fired at vehicles, will scuttle underneath and explode to devastating effect, but they can also be hidden in long grass where they hide until an enemy vehicle stumbles upon them. They are also lethal to players on foot - get too near and they jump onto your face and drill a hole into your brain.
There'll be at least nine maps for Onslaught and Assault modes -supporting a maximum of 32 players - plus over 20 new maps for the original game modes. However, UT 2004 will be completely backwards-compatible with UT2003, with new players able to use old servers and any maps and mods created for the older game. "We want to grow the community, not split it," assured Polge. Altogether, UT2004 is shaping up to be an unmissable addition to the UT universe We'll have a full preview very soon.
Who Are our most favourite developers in the world? It's tough when you're looking at the top, but it's more than fair to say that when anything from Epic drops onto our desks, our noses get a bit damper and our coats get a bit glossier. Since our cover on the new Unreal Engine 3.0, everything's gone quiet on the Epic front. We've been emailing the company almost every week in a bid to make it crack, but so far it's held firm. And then this image arrived after a request for info for our 'Best Of 2005' feature.
Allegedly it's not game specific, and it recently graced a cover of a US magazine, accompanying a feature on Unreal Engine 3.0. Epic says that it's a further example of the power that Unreal Engine 3.0 is going to wield.
But we think we know more. We know for a fact that this is Malcolm from Unreal Tournament and we're going to take this to mean that a new version of the best online shooter in the world is due sometime this year. Which would obviously be an event of such magnitude that the earth would actually stop spinning, if for but a second. As soon as we get any more information, you'll be the first to know.
It's funny how the inclusion of interaction with other people in a video game "?no matter how remote it is"? can make for such a differently entertaining experience. First-Person Shooters in particular are a completely different beast online compared to what it is offline. In fact, they're such different games that the Unreal franchise, a high profile license in the FPS world, has yearly incarnations of its popular multiplayer game (much like that of a sports game). Unreal Tournament 2004 has just arrived on the scene, because really, 2003 was getting so pass - how does it stack up? Read on to find out.
Unreal Tournament has always been about fast-paced, adrenaline pumping multiplayer action and it's no different with Unreal Tournament 2004 - it's just that this version is polished to perfection and packed with a ton of gameplay modes. Unreal Tournament 2004 doesn't focus on just one gameplay type - instead, it takes inspiration from just about every successful multiplayer mode and crams it onto 6 CD's. Naturally, there's the classic deathmatch modes, team based action like Capture the Flag and Bombing Run, co-op slaughtering in the vein of Serious Sam , objective-based carnage in Assault, and vehicular based action in Onslaught ' it's all there (and more), but with that Unreal twist that makes each gameplay type feel uniquely separate from its influences. Plus, if you don't want to take the game online, the single player mode is more than adequate since the bot AI is extremely intelligent.
Unreal Tournament 2004 ships with nearly 100 maps (45 of which are new), and with the inclusion of mod tools, you can expect many more to come from the Unreal community. A lot of the maps are from the original Unreal Tournament and UT2K3, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it right? Even today, a lot of them hold up well and the new maps are just as good, and even better in most cases.
Of course, where would Unreal Tournament 2004 be without weapons? After all, pacifism won't get you far in a FPS. Favorites like the Flak Cannon and the beloved Shock Rifle have returned, but each has been tweaked for balance and added depth. And how about those vehicles in Onslaught? By and large, they control great and make Onslaught a big favorite among fans.
Not only is Unreal Tournament 2004 fragtastic, but it also looks fantastic. What's great about Unreal Tournament 2004 is that it scales great: it'll run and look good on low-end machines, but it also looks absolutely stunning on stacked rigs. It's a bit unreal, if you will, to look at some of the older maps that have been updated graphically and see how far Epic's technology has come: the textures are sharper, there's more dynamic lighting thrown about, and there's more detail in environments. It's almost poetry in motion ' well, as close as you can to it get when you have the chaotic carnage of a deathmatch surrounding you.
If you like your first-person shooters of the online variety fast and fun, then it doesn't get any better then Unreal Tournament 2004. Not only is the game refined in just about every way, but it's also brimming with content that'll keep you fragging away for hours on end. It may just be the best arcade style online shooter ever made, and it'll likely only be unseated by next year's incarnation.