DV Hardware review - Unreal Tournament 2003 (Demo)

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Unreal Tournament 2003 (Demo)

This version of the Unreal engine is the most advanced to date. The amount of geometry and effects that it can display is far above that of previous versions. While I REALLY wanted (and expected) to give the engine an Exceptional rating, the drop in framerate during battles (where several players/effects are on screen at once) was the cause for the drop in rating. While the extra polygons and effects that "can" be displayed show the horsepower of the engine, if those extras come at the price of gameplay (the reason to play a game in the first place, and what keeps pulling you back to play it again and again), then it must be seen (even if slightly) as a limiting factor.

The single player portion of the demo consists of "Instant Action" matches with/against AI bots. The demo does not include team building/managing and stats aspects that are reported to be in the full version of the game. Without this (somewhat major) part of the game included, the singleplayer rating will be left blank (since things such as AI and Weapons are covered further down). And, the "gameplay" types will be covered in the Multiplayer section.

WEAPONS/PICKUPS: Average (overall)
The overall "Average" rating is based upon the total weapons and item pickup ratings from the demo. While some may be better than others, no ONE great weapon/pickup can truely make up for the lack of the others...and vice versa. There are not enough "stand out" elements within the Weapons/Pickups to rise above average (my Good rating).
Tranlocator: Average
"Rainbow" colored trail gives this weapon (tool) an almost cartoonish feel that does not fit in with the "harsh" aspect of DEATHmatch style combat. While it recharges over time, the ammo limit on teleportation could possibly hurt the ability to chase down the enemy (flag/bomb carrier) on larger maps.
Shield Gun: Good
The shield ability of this weapon greatly adds to tactical possibilites. The sound for the shield fits perfectly. However, the "jackhammer" sound used for charging the piston portion of the weapon needs to either be decreased in volume or changed altogether. The volume of this sounds makes is VERY hard to hear anything else around you.
Assault Rifle: Average
The rate of primary fire does not seem to match the damage of shots. Most "assault" machine guns in the "Real World" (tm) have a fairly high rate of fire (think M-16, AK-47, etc.). The rate of fire and damage just doesn't seem to "fit", especially for a weapon of the future...i.e. more advanced than by today's standards. At the current rate of fire, the damage of shots needs to be increased. Or, increase the rate of fire and possibly decrease the shot damage. Primary fire sound also needs more "oomph".
Unless the grenades are used as in a direct impact capacity, the 3 (approximate) seconds it takes for them to actually explode often makes them pretty much useless (especially when considering the increased speed of gameplay and importance of split second timing).
Bio Rifle: Average
The ability to "add" to a bio-pool and make it larger is cool. However, once the pool reaches a certain size, it starts to spit out drops like an alt-fire charge. Also, the shots need to stick around a bit longer before they pop. There is a good sized green energy flash from the barrel of the gun when fired. But, the shots just seem to pop and disappear with only a few particles flying off.
Shock Rifle: Good
Rate of primary fire, sounds and effects seems to be just right. My only request would be to remove the non-functioning "laser" sight from the weapon model. The "laser" in the following pic is in an area where there is a water reflection (lighting effect I assume). The modeled "laser" is being affected by the light, which would not happen to a real laser in this manner.
Link Gun: Good
Rate of primary fire and speed of shots seems to work well. The shape of the shots is sort of weird (looks like an energy badminton). The primary fire sound is a bit generic. It could be beefed up some. Alt-fire = LONG arm of the law...this thing reaches from here to tomorrow! Perhaps add a bit more "zap" to the alt-fire sound. This weapon (at least the alt-fire) is one of the more powerful ones in the game based upon the ratio of skill required to use it and damage inflicted. The "Good" rating is based upon the fact that the weapon IS truely useful/powerful.
Minigun: Below Average
A minigun is supposed to spit out ammo faster than this. Go watch Terminator 2: Judgement Day for the scene where A'nold mows down the cop cars outside of the Cyberdine building...THAT'S what a minigun is supposed to do. As a fan of slug thrower weapons, I was VERY displeased with this as the main representation of that class of weapon in UT2003. BTW, why are there two separate models for this weapon? The version used in the 1st person view has the side motor used to spin the barrels, but, the regular model (pickup or one seen when minigun is used by other players) does not have the side motor. The look of the regular (pickup) model is fairly uninspired, just a motor with a handle and some long barrels.
Flak Cannon: Good
The skill required to get a direct hit with the primary fire (at anything other than close quarters combat) means the alt-fire will most likely be the preferred method of use. The only problem I ran across was a weird bending/popping down on front of gun barrel animation when loading ammo after single shot.
Rocket Launcher: Average
Ah, the staple of any decent FPS. Primary rate of fire is quick enough to not waste much ammo chasing down your target (victim). I like (and prefer) the primary=instant-fire rockets/alt-fire=load up scheme. My only complaint would have to be with the explosion effect for the rocket. The effect seems to "occur" (instead of build up from the point of impact) and then just "fades" away rather than dissipating. Also, on shots that hit near by, a rotation on the effect/texture can be seen that does not look quite "right".
To explain my rating of Average it must be understood that I am not tryin to compaire this RL specifically to any other. The fact is that there are SO many FPS games with RLs included that the level of the bar has been raised. If most RL are "essentially" the same, then they become the point where "Average" lies. Thus, to be considered above average (my rating of Good), a RL MUST be better than the "Average" ones in other games. Are there some aspect of this RL better than others? Yes. Are some aspects of this RL not as good as others? Also yes. Since this RL was not "that" much better than the majority of RLs, I felt I had to stick with Average as the rating.
Lightning Gun: Average
I like the zoom in mode with only one exception....the "video" monitor flicker WITHIN the otherwise unobstructed clear scope area. In the heat of combat (with lots of effects and such), on already dark levels and with online lag that can occur, it's just one more layer of "stuff" to have to get thru to pinpoint a target. It would also be nice if users had the ability to set an instant zoom level instead of having to use the the slower zoom speed (that is without having to mess with FOV settings).
As with the RL, the Lightning gun is a type of one shot kill weapon commonly seen in many FPS games. Due to this commonality, if the weapon does not stand out above the "Average" it has to be considered part of the "Average".
Adrenaline: Below Average
Picking up pills that just "float" above the ground for no reason, not to mention they are almost half as tall as a person (at least from a 1st person point of view), makes the game feel less realistic (in terms of all out combat) and more arcade/console-ish. I thought I was supposed to be a HARDCORE fighting machine, not Sonic the FRIGGIN Hedgehog. It appears as if the idea of adrenaline was originally set up so that you gained some when you got kills, but, because some ppl were unable to obtain enough kills to reach 100 adrenaline points (used to execute a special) they decided to spread some around the level for those that are "aim challenged".
I am not sure if this is a feature, a bug or something the development team missed in the game, but, even if you are already full at 100 adrenaline points (and have not used them for a special) you can continue to pick up more adrenaline. While this can keep your opponent from gaining more adrenaline, it works completely opposite of the way health and other pickups do, where you are unable to pick up more once you are maxed out (or reach a certain amount).
Health (+5 Vial, +25 Cross, +100 Big Keg O' Health): Average
The +5 vials, while helpful are still just another item that "floats" above the ground for no reason. The size of the health stations helps to identify the location from a farther away distance. The look of the clear "blue" cross (any reference here? lol) is interesting. All in all the health items are well done and do their job. Health pickups have become a common "staple" item in many games. Other than in look, which each game has it's own style, these health pickps are not that different than the "Average", thus the "Average" rating.
Double Damage/Shield Packs (+50 & +100): Average
Double Damage/Shield Pack stations, like health stations, help to "locate" the items. This is good for newer players to know where an item (even if it has already been picked up) can be located when it spawns back into the game. +50 Shield sound should be changed as it comes across as being taken straight out of the Robocop movie. Perhaps boosting the amplification sound or tone of the Double Damage would make it more of a "note" to players that someone is using it. Again, armor and power boosting pickups have been around for years. Since these are within that catagory and don't go "beyond" the norm, they receive an "Average" rating.

Added: September 16th 2002
Reviewer: STATIC3D
Score: 7/10
Related Link: www.unrealtournament2003.com
Page: 2/7

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