Welcome to BeyondUnreal’s Best of 2007. It was an eventful year for the Unreal Engine and we’ll look back to recap the good and the bad. Here are the awards that are up for grabs this year:

  • Story of the Year
  • Unreal Engine Game of the Year
  • Biggest Controversy
  • Worst Trend
  • Most Surprising Title
  • Most Anticipated 2008 Title
  • UT 2004 Level of the Year
  • Most Likely To Bomb 2008
  • Forum Awards: Forumer/Thread of the Year

Story of the Year

Silicon Knights vs. Epic Games It seemed that Unreal Engine 3 was on the verge of taking over the world. A critical darling and the recipient of countless awards, developers lined up to use the technology for their latest next-gen game and, in some instances, for their entire production line.

Mid-year, Silicon Knights, best known for games such as Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen and Eternal Darkness, filed suit (story) against Epic Games, claiming that “Epic intentionally and wrongfully has used the fees from those licenses to launch its own game to widespread commercial success while simultaneously sabotaging efforts by Silicon Knights and others to develop their own video games”, and asked the judge to rule that they be released from obligation of payment and be allowed to keep and license their modified version of the engine. And in typical internets fashion, amateur lawyers began lining up behind both sides making wild assumptions to support any personal predisposition.

Epic the filed a motion to dismiss (story) which was followed by a rebuttal from SK (story) and so on. The winner of the case has yet to be decided, but we’re pretty sure the attorneys from both sides will come out on top no matter what.

Unreal Engine Game of the Year


No, it wasn’t perfect (story), but it was darn close by many accounts (story), don’t you agree, CliffyB? (story)

BioShock was also one of the first non-Epic Games titles to really flex the muscle of Unreal Engine 3. In an age of look-alike shooters, BioShock managed to stand out by utilizing early twentieth century design and music. The art deco style with an infusion of steam punk turned out to be quite refreshing and lent it an otherworldy eeriness I often associate with the movie The Shining.

While it didn’t quite live up to the gameplay ideals of its predecessor, System Shock 2 (story), Irrational Games did succeed in making it very friendly and accessible for a much broader audience. Other than the draconian copy protection measures (story) which, to the credit of 2k Games, were handled reasonably well (story), the game was remarkably solid and relatively bug-free and has since been the recipient of a few extras.
Runner Up: Mass Effect

Biggest Controversy

UT Comp For Unreal Tournament 3

Admittedly, most of the controversy around the announcement of UTComp for UT3 (story) has to do with preconceived notions that it would be implemented in much the same way as its predecessor. Lotus’ wildly popular UT2004 mutator brought brightskins (lovingly known as glowsticks), arcade-like hit sounds, ping-compensation tweaks to the netcode, and a lot more. To some, the mutator was a god-send and essential for enjoying the game. To others, it was the devil incarnate. Regardless of your opinion of the changes UTComp brings, no one can deny that it is always the source of heated debate. We’ve all seen the fifteen page flame wars on messageboards and you’ve probably witnessed hours of acerbic exchanges in IRC of each side making its points.

Probably for those very reasons, the jump to Unreal Tournament 3 included a name change to CustomUT (story). Nevertheless, sides were drawn upon release and the controversy rages on.
Runner Up: Gamespy Integrated Into UT3

Worst Trend

Console Infection

It’s no longer shocking when games are ported from the console to the PC with little thought given to anything other than compatibility. The console market is booming while the PC games seem to be losing ground, and that’s sad. We’d love to see both do equally well as they both do specific things very well.

With the “next-gen” amounting to essentially highly specialized semi-powerful PCs, it’s easier than ever to make a title available across the board. Unfortunately, while Unreal Engine 3 allows developers easy portability, few seem to be going that extra mile to make sure that their game takes advantage of the features of the PC and is suitable for the standard keyboard/mouse/monitor interface. Looking back at UE titles this year, you could point to a few that clearly had at least some aspects of what we’re calling “Console Infection”. In some cases, like BlackSite: Area 51 (story), it’s clear that the game was primarily aimed at the console platform. In others, like Unreal Tournament 3 (story), it’s easy to see that the menus, options, and user interface were all designed for use with a gamepad on a large screen television. To its credit, Gears of War (story), a game that was exclusive to the Xbox 360 for almost an entire year, was on the receiving end of quite a bit of work in the control scheme and interface to make it more PC-friendly, and even included a few PC-exclusive assets.

Perhaps, the sting comes most sharply from the fact that the PC has always been the home of the first-person-shooter. But in any case, we’d love to see a surge in the PC gaming market that would warrant making games such as these specifically for the computer platform. Until then, we’ll brace ourselves for more games with smaller levels, less customization, and poor optimization.
Runner Up: Unfinished games being released

Most Surprising Title

Gears of War PC

In truth, the Most Surprising Title could also be called the Least Surprising Title. From the outset, Epic all but made a formal announcement that Gears of War would be heading to the PC at some point after the Xbox 360 release. We just didn’t know when (story). But it was a tremendous surprise that in early July, when were all looking forward to UT3’s imminent release, that Epic announced Gears of War for the PC – and it would ship in the same window as UT3 (story). Not only that, but it would feature additional exclusive content such as an additional lengthy story segment, a new gametype, and new maps.

Gears was not without its share of problems (story), but it delivered the same award winning singleplayer game to the PC for all who could run it. Sadly, a lack of a dedicated server download and a few technical issues have prevented Gears from being the huge online hit that it was on the Xbox 360.
Runner Up: Stranglehold

Most Anticipated (2008) U-Engine Title

Duke Nukem Forever

We hesitantly give out this award to the now infamous Duke Nukem Forever, but we just can’t help ourselves. The quickie teaser trailer (story) broke a long-standing tradition of silence from 3D Realms. Yeah, it didn’t look that great, but it sure was good ‘ol Duke... and that counts for something.

Could a 2008 release be possible? Considering that it’s rooted in Unreal Engine 2, will the technology appear to be outdated by the time it’s released? Will they scrap it and start again.

No one knows.

...And that’s the magic of Duke Nukem. The original was just that good that, even after the exceedingly long development process has become the butt of internet jokes over the last several years, most people secretly would love to play an updated version.
Runner Up: Turok

UT2004 Level of the Year


The UCMP4 was the strongest custom UT2004 map pack released in 2007 and DM-UCMP4-Elucidation was, in our opinion, the best of the bunch. BIOS and Axeman combined great looks and great fun to come up with a real winner. From our review (story):

The map name, Elucidation, is an interesting choice as it means "to make clear", and nothing about this level - the lighting levels, the texture useage, and the flow - is obscure. The setting is a partially open-air methane reactor and the lighting is a nice mix of artificial and natural, leaving no corner unlit without appearing overly bright. The texture use is restrained and tasteful, and the level is impeccably trimmed. Custom sci-fi pickup bases look fantastic too. Overall, the feeling is very reminiscent of a Quake 3 level and the esoteric use of Q-like window adornment only serves to reinforce that notion for me. That's a compliment, mind you. In a nutshell, it's beautiful in its simplicity…

…Everything about this level is very smooth and smart.

Runners Up: (tie) DM-Algol and ONS-Iguazu

Most Likely To Bomb

Tie: Black College Football Experience / Redneck Kentucky And The Next Generation Chickens

There’s a case to be made that appealing to a niche audience can be profitable. Nerjyzed Entertainment’s has its marketing hooks honed right down to a razor-sharp point with its Unreal Engine title: Black College Football Experience (story). But if you happen to like football… uh, College football… BLACK college football, then you might be in for a real treat. We eagerly await its homage to Irish Unicycling.

Sometimes it’s fun to offer a little irreverent humor in your video games; a chance to just be silly. Rednecks are funny. Power-hungry chickens are funny. Can Redneck Kentucky and the Next Generations Chickens (story) manage to walk that fine line between humour and idiocy, and still sell a few copies? Nah, we didn’t think so either.

Forum Awards: Forumer/Thread of the Year

doron_098 / a question about an horror film

Normally, we give out separate awards for Forumer of the Year and Thread of the Year. This time around, doron_098 has both categories locked up.

doron_098 (I'll call him doron for short), joined BeyondUnreal on December 01, 2006 and posted a gem of a thread (thread). We liked it so much, we even extended the cut-off date for eligibility. You see, doron went to all the trouble of signing up, confirming his account, and then choosing a forum to ask a very important question... about a horror film. Not so funny, you say? Well, the funny part is that he thought he was joining a website dedicated to science fiction films. At least he got the science fiction part right.

What makes the thread and doron so endearing is that normally the Off-Topic dwellers would have skewered him relentlessly. It must have been his good natured response when he realized what he had done - or possibly his lovable Jay Leno avatar - that made him an instant hit. doron even returned three months later to see if we missed him (thread)... and we did.

Where are you doron_098??

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