Unreal Tournament 2004

a game by Atari Co.
Platform: PC
Rating: 8/10

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.

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