Welcome to BeyondUnreal's UT2003 Review Part 1. I think you will find that it is the most accurate, comprehensive, and unbiased review available of this game. Naturally, we come from a background of Unreal and other first-person-shooters, and we are interested in this game. We tried to stick to mostly unopinionated points followed by personal comments. Not everything we say is positive, and we don't all agree about every aspect, but what we say is honest and 100% independent.

Part 1 - Introduction, Visual Presentation, Menu/HUD, Weapons/Items.
Part 2 - DM Maps, DD Maps, BR Maps.
Part 3 - CTF Maps, Gameplay, Conclusions.

Unreal Tournament 2003
Developers: Digital Extremes, Epic Games
Publisher: Infogrames ©2002

Unreal garnered praise for it's creativity and gorgeous graphics. The netcode was the single thorn in it's side. Many people played through the singleplayer game, loved it, then tried it out online, only to quickly return to other online games such as Quake2. The netcode was vastly improved over time, but at this point, many people had already given it a shot and weren't aware of the game it had become.

Unreal Tournament was the surprise that snuck up on the gaming world. Yeah, we knew it was coming, Unreal sold millions of copies, what's so surprising about that? UT began life as a bot pack for Unreal. A simple add-on. As we all know, those small aspirations led to something much, much larger.

We knew it was coming, but we weren't ready for the larger-than-life players, wildly inventive maps, brutally effective weapons, and inventive gameplay. Much of what Epic had in store was a surprise. Very little had leaked out to the gaming world. Even the demo only hinted at the brilliance that was Unreal Tournament.

New gametypes amazed us all: Assault was an instant single-player success, garnering praise in every review. You couldn't mention the game without uttering wonderance at "Storming the beach", or "Flying down the tracks on a train at high-speed". Online, the game proved to be popular initially, settling in with a solid niche audience.

Domination was a frenzied translocator-fest. Fast action ruled the day, and you were never more than a beacon's toss from the action. While not sustaining quite the online player count that Assault enjoyed, Domination filled a void in gameplay. The better players who stuck with it really knew that it was TeamDeathMatch with visible control points, and played it that way.

The translocator, an innocent-enough idea, was intended to be a substitute for the over-used grappling hook. A source of early heated debate, players quickly mastered this item and took it places the developers never dreamed of. Better players were able to literally fly around the maps, up walls, and between enemy lines. Telepunting (punting the translocator beacon with the Impact Hammer) was born, creating more and more strategy as time went on.

When Unreal Tournament entered the scene, Unreal online play had fizzled into a small community. A small hardcore group of veterans clung onto the title and it's handful of modifications. UT had the benefit of having a well-known title as it's big-brother and none of the baggage of a huge community that knows (and loves) every last pixel of the game.

Enter Unreal Tournament 2003, one of the most highly anticpated titles in years. The release of the demo alone, created an internet traffic-jam for over 24 hours as people rushed to download it. There were media tours, interviews, press releases, videos, chat sessions and more. There were leaks of multiple builds, allowing thousands of less scrupulous players to sneak a peek at more-or-less the entire game.

Can any game live up to this level of hype and anticipation? We intend to answer that very question over the next three segments. BeyondUnreal takes an in depth look at each element of the game, dissects it, and gives you our point-of-view. In many cases we disagree about aspects of UT2003, as do many of you. Stick with us, enjoy the ride, and as always, add your comments along the way.