SummaryThe first fully-balanced 1st-person shooter.
The GoodUnreal Tournament has to be the pinnacle of "1st-person shooter" games. There's just too many reasons why, so I'll cover some of the reasons I think other reviewers have touched on only briefly:
But most of all, the gameplay is balanced. What does this mean? It means that each weapon has been tweaked to be just as powerful and effective at killing as every other weapon. A player can specialize in any certain weapon and, if he or she is good enough at it, can be just as lethal as any other player. Massively-powerful weapons (like the Redeemer, a miniature nuclear warhead) are offset by their refire rate (the Redeemer is an incredibly slow missle, for example).
Balanced gameplay is good. You want balanced gameplay, trust me.
The BadThe expandability and customization features are lacking and undocumented. This doesn't mean you can't expand UT -- just the opposite, you can. But it's not made very easy for the end-user, and documentation on doing it is very hard to come by (the only docs I could find on the subject were written by other UT fans, which makes me wonder where they got the info). In fact, I didn't even know it was possible to upload your own sounds until I came across an Internet deathmatch server that had custom sounds.
With the exception of the Sniper Rifle, the weapons are not "traditional" weapons. (Last I checked, guns that 1. spew rotary saw blades, 2. emit a continuous stream of energy, 3. pummel human flesh into pulp, and 4. spew toxic green goop are not considered "normal".) This is offputting to those who are used to "normal" weapons, like those found in Half-Life/Team Fortress/Counter-Strike.
The "balanced gameplay" design falls short in one area: The original gun you start out with. It's pretty wimpy compared to the rest of the weapons. But even this is remedied if you manage to pick up another one, because then you can wield one in each hand for some John Woo-esque action.
The Bottom LineThere simply isn't a reason not to like this game! It's balanced, it's expandable, it comes with a great world editor, has tons of dedicated fans/fan sites/mods, and it has solid networking code. What's not to like? The original version at the time of this writing was $29.95 US, with the "gold" edition right around the corner with even more extras, so pick this game up! What are you waiting for, Daikatana 2?