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The GoodThe original Unreal Tournament was one of the most out-right addictive games I've ever played. Every time I play, I find myself itching to go just one more map. Even back when I first started playing it, when I only played on a cruddy dial-up connection, I loved the game. Now I play UT2004 when I need an Unreal fix, but the original started it all.
UT came out with some of the sweetest graphics yet seen. From the detailed models and textures to fantastic lighting and translucency, it was a treat for the eyes. Even today, when I look at the game the graphics aren't bad. All that in a game that was tightly coded enough to run well on my Pentium 200.
One of my favorite parts of UT is the weapons. Epic managed to come up with an arsenal that was both balanced and interesting. There are more standard weapons, such as the rocket launcher and the mini-gun, or innovative pieces like the flack cannon and the pulse rifle (some of these weapons actually had their debut in the first Unreal). Every weapon has a secondary fire mode that adds a great deal of depth to gameplay. The shock-rifle, for instance, fires a low-damage beam as primary and a medium-damage ball of energy as secondary. To make things more interesting still, if you fire off an energy ball and then hit it with a faster moving beam shot, it will cause a powerful energy explosion that tears many enemies to bitsies. Even the rocket launcher is innovative in that rather than just firing off shots, you can hold up to six rockets before firing. In secondary mode rockets can be launched as grenades, again allowing you to fire of six of these little bouncing messengers of death. You can kill with pretty much any weapon in the game. Even the starting pistol can be effective in the hands of an experienced player.
Speaking of blowing stuff up, this game is also very visceral. The weapon effects, sounds, and character death animations all create a very gritty and satisfactory experience. There's nothing quite like filling an opponent with mini-gun rounds or blowing them away with a flack cannon shot at point blank range.
The game plays fast and hard, with plenty of over-the-top action going on at any given time if you get a decent number of players. It's exactly the kind of thing you want in a game like this.
Gameplay modes in UT reach beyond the usual deathmatch and CTF, adding in Domination (teams fight over crucial control points) and Assault (one team assaults a series of objectives while the other defends). While Domination is fun, the latter is the truly innovative addition. A good game of Assault with a group of people playing reasonably like a team can be a great experience. Of course, it can be hard to find people who play anything like a team online. But that's not the game's fault.
Then we have mutators. Playing with the various available mutators can give the game a whole new life. From low-grav mode to fat-boy (where-in a player gets more and more obese the more he kills), there's a lot of variety to be had. For a crazy time, try fat-boy instagib.
AI bots are challenging opponents to practice against before you play online. They sometimes play almost like human (sometimes better on higher levels). As with any AI, they have their moments of stupidity. But it's better than most.
No wonder it's so addictive.
The BadWell, my only gripe is this: There is really no great first-person experience here. There is no quest, no character progression (in the true sense), no cool scripted events, and there is only a base excuse for plot-line.