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PC Reviews: Unreal Tournament 2003


Unreal Tournament 2003 Screenshots

The Final Say!




Unreal Tournament 2003
 - reviewed by Tory Favro
Review Date: 28 October 2002
Review Score: 9/10 
Distributor: Infogrames

Welcome back to the Tournament! A few years ago, UT was released upon a public used to the frantic paced action of Quake III Arena and all of a sudden were confronted with the 'thinking man's deathmatch' game. Unreal Tournament brought new gameplay options into the equation and also the option of team based match play with a revamped engine.

Gamers were divided in their loyalty to the two giants, however I was always of the belief that the two could coexist and even compliment each other and it is in that vein that Epic have released the next instalment of the Unreal Tournament opus.

Whilst with many games, an update should be replaced with the words, "we just wanna make a bit more cash outta you", UT 2003 does bring with it a string of improvements that most certainly make the purchase of the game a most worthy one.

First things first, this game is stunning to look at. Level design has been taken strongly into account this time and every level plays excellently. There were some nagging issues with clipping and a small amount of collision detection on the original, but for the most part they are things of the past for this game. Textures are varied and have more of a dirtied look, especially around stations and bases making it a much more convincing experience to visit these locales.

Lighting and effects play a huge part in this game, as does the environment you are playing in in general. On more than one occasion I was amazed at what was going on around the level and had stopped to look about. A swift rocket to the head quickly stopped the sight seeing and got me quickly back to the frag fest. There was one level in particular earlier in the game where I was racing around on a killing spree and the view ahead of me stopped me dead in my tracks as I watched a shark swim it's lazy way outside through a plate window. The detail of the shark and the high level of realistic animation blew me away.

Player models look good and are animated well. You can see that they have had a lot of fun yet again with these characters, both appearance-wise and by creating a little back story for each one. Read about them and pay special heed to what you see. These crazy characters are going to be your team-mates fairly shortly into the game.

There is a short introductory number of levels to ease you into the game and these are needed, even for those of you familiar, as I was, with the original game. You see, due to better coding and other factors, Unreal Tournament 2003 runs faster and a lot smoother than it's predecessor and it does take a bit of getting used to.

 There are about 30 levels for those competing in the Tournament to battle their way through and then there are all the mini game aspects of the mutators games to make it very interesting indeed. There are several there that will be used quite a bit such as the quad damage mutator, however others will get quickly checked out and never see the light of day again.

One of the true strengths of Unreal Tournament 2003 is it's bots (artificial intelligence controlled team-mates and enemies). The programming that went into these is amazing and will blow your socks off at how convincingly they portray realistic gameplay. The skill levels that you set for the bots when you get started is amazingly accurate and the discrepancies between them do stand out. This

The nice thing about all that is that it makes for a richer single player gaming experience which for the most part is what I prefer being on a dial up. Impressively however, UT2003's net code does allow even a slowcoach like me to be reasonably competitive by using code that tricks the server into allowing hits to be registered against low ping players. How it works is essentially info gets sent from my pc saying that I have seen the enemy and successfully shot them on my screen. The server acknowledges the accuracy of my aiming and damage is done to my victim even if by the time it's registered they are long gone.

It does make the game a tad fairer, however my best advice to players is to find a server that has a ping matching your own for best results and a better gameplay experience. That's mainly for two reasons and they both basically are one and the same thing. If you are playing against folks with a low ping, you are going to have your butt handed to you every time and that sucks. It also sucks if you have a low ping and some person on the server has major lag. One affects the other.

Unreal Tournament 2003 Minimum System Requirements

  • Windows 98, 2000, ME, XP
  • Pentium® III or AMD Athlon 733MHz processor
  • 128 MB RAM
  • Windows compatible soundcard
  • 16MB TNT2 class or other DirectX version 6 compliant video card
  • Direct X 8.1 (included on game CD)


Games like UT2003 have extremely long life spans as well, further justifying their purchase and the reason for this is quite simple. The developers provide the tools for Joe Average to try his hand at making new levels with the level editor included with the software. So if you don't like a level, make your own to your own tastes. The online community has always strongly supported these sorts of initiatives by making levels and maps that on the odd occasion actually surpass the work done by the proper development team. Not to forget the fact that you can also make your own customised mutators to create any style of play that you like.

In closing Unreal Tournament 2003 is worth the money to have this game on your computer. It truly does enhance the gameplay experience offered by the original rather than just being a shameless money maker. A lot of thought and very good programming have gone into the title and it most certainly shows.

- Tory Favro

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