Welcome to Part 3 of BeyondUnreal's UT2003 Review. The contents are totally candid and unbiased. In this, the last, segment of our review, we examine the Capture the Flag maps, Gameplay, and wrap it all up with our conclusions.

*Note - I've rated the maps in my commentary below each map. The rating is based on the retail maps only. Obviously these are professional quality maps, and each would rate much higher in comparison to most user made maps. The score I've given is indicative only of my opinion and not of the BU staff. -hal

Capture The Flag Maps

Chrome - "A recent addition to the Tournaments, this arena has yet to be fouled by the rusted brown of dried blood or the carbon black of scorch marks. Let us welcome you to be the first to christen it."

This is an attractive map with shiny chrome (duh) walls and sharp red accents. The layout is reminiscent of a small version of Hydro16, minus the window entrance. Two facing bases, each with a twisting hallway entrance on either side. The central area is made up of two long hallways divided by a central square core.

The flag sits high atop a platform accessible by a dual ramp, rear lift, and of course the good old translocator. Dual L-shaped corridors with windows wrap around two sides of the room, providing cover for spawning players.

The semi-reflective surfaces throughout the map and the gorgeous light coils in the ante-chambers provide a memorable atmosphere. The power weapons in this map are located outside of the flag rooms, while more defensive pickups like the LinkGun, Shield Pack and LightningGun are located within.

Though the map can easily hold 10 players, it feels smaller. The two base entrances limit the options of the attackers. A third entrance would have been nice.

RaptoR: CTF-Chrome is a filled with shiny corridors and metal lifts and feels literally very polished. Although most of the action takes place on one level, the map provides the flag carrier with a gauntlet to navigate before capturing the flag.

hal: I like this map. I don't know why it feels so small... perhaps it's because of the limited number of attack routes. One more would have solidified this map as a favorite of mine. The divided hallways in the central area are all that need be defended to shut down incoming attackers. The ShockRifle and ammo, and the Rocket ammo ensure that the dual hallways will be the key control area of the map. Add one more route in a map this small... please! 6.5/10

Citadel - Two battle-axe topped towers sit atop facing mountains. A central walkway and two flanking walkways connect the two fortresses. Three ways in to the base: two hallways extending from the flanking walkways, and a hole at the rear of the tower that drops onto the flag stand. Three ways out: two hallways leading to the flanking walkways, and a portal leading to a sniper ledge near the tower tops.

The atmosphere is gloomy. Lightning strikes overhead, spiked balls hang mysteriously above the action (not without reward!), and spikes cover everything that's stationary. This map evokes that Unreal feeling with its visuals.

The dodge-jumps make this map smaller than it is physically. It's possible to dodge jump from the sniper ledge and get quite a head start from your pursuers below. Add in the Speed Adrenaline Combo and it takes mere seconds to cross the map.

RaptoR: Many have described DM-Citadel as just a Face-clone, however there’s much more to this map than its two facing towers. There are three entrances to each base, and you must guard each of these effectively if you want to win here.

hal: This is one cool-looking map. I love playing it. Ensuring the flag never leaves the flag room is the key. Sounds obvious, but I say that because some maps are better defended outside the flag room.

I can't help but feel that given the dodge-jumps and Adrenaline moves, the most-played CTF maps are going to be larger than this one. You can cover ground so quickly in UT2003 that you have to consider it a big factor when creating a CTF map for this game. 8/10

December - "Hidden away on the shores of a small South Pacific island, you will find the once great naval re-supply station code-named December."

This, obviously, is a successor to CTF-November from Unreal Tournament. A large, nicely modeled war ship is docked between two bases. However, this map differs from its predecessor in several ways. The bases are identical this time around, and the sniper nests no longer face each other, but are near opposite sides of the ship. The corridors leading to the flag room are much more complicated. The flag room has a seperate spawning room with a shortcut past the flag room, in the form of a tube located high on the wall. There is also a sub-level accessible by two elevators. The sub-level exits to the dry dock.

This is a beautiful, complicated, large level. The flag room has some spectacular light projectors, the interior corridors have numerous nice touches such as giant moving pistons, and the ship looks fantastic.

The gameplay, while reminiscent of November, has changed significantly. Controlling the ship is much harder due to the lower base exits. Each flag room has 3 possible entrances and only two possible exits (except in lowgrav). The interior corridors however offer endless possible escape routes to one of three possible base exits.

RaptoR: Let's get my main problem with this map out of the way first -- the framerate issues. I'm running the game on a 1.4GHz Athlon with 512Mb DDR RAM and a GeForce4 Ti4200, and I still get 20fps on this map with bots. Play this map with bots and your framerate will drop significantly, however, who really plays CTF maps against bots other than in the single player ladder? December really shines in online play, where my framerate picks up to a more acceptable 40. The lack of water and tunnels under the bases are a great addition, providing a much-needed place for flag carriers to hide. Overall, a thumbs-up.

larrystorch: CTF-December... is an absolute killer on my system. Midfield over the ship can knock me down to 15 FPS no matter the resolution.

hal: This is a pretty map for sure. I have a love/hate relationship with the base interior. I love all of the escape routes and the third entrance. I hate all of the escape routes when I'm chasing my flag and I hate how it's possible to camp in the ceiling of the spawn room! This has to be fixed!

Skip this map if you don't have a high-end system. There are almost as many improvements in the layout as there are mis-steps. In the layouts newfound complexity it loses a little of the charm of the original. It scores points for adding an underground route, but loses points for most of the rest of the base. 6.5/10

Facing Worlds 3 - "One asteroid, two towers... ten thousand headshots."

Two facing towers with an Egyptian theme this time around. The bases are large with two side corridors in which are portals leading to Sniper platforms near the top of the tower. There are two additional interior levels that are open to the central area. Entrances can be found on each of the four sides of the base.

Additionally, the exterior is more complex. Three respawning platforms are found on the sides and back. A large reflective pyramid is found in the center of the asteroid. Jump pads in front of the base shoot players towards the pyramid. A small pool of water resides in the back of the tower grounds that should please all flag carriers looking for a faster way down.

This map is a beauty to behold. The Egyptian statues and wall decor are breathtaking. The towers feel taller and are majestic in their scope. The beauty comes at a price as this map will truly test your system in some of the more wide-open spots.

This is not your father's Facing Worlds. The gameplay is radically different due to the vast interior and longer flag routes, though the jump pads, Adrenaline Speed, and dodge jump potentialy shorten that route. The complexity of the base yields an infinite number of hiding spots.

RaptoR: CTF-Face is everything that a CTF map should be -- multiple routes in and out of the bases, sniper points, but protection from spawn snipers. This map is Facing World perfected, in terms of both graphics and gameplay. You now spawn in little pods around the base, protecting you from spawn snipers. The pyramid in the middle of the map is a nice addition -- it looks great, and stops you from sniping anyone leaving the enemy base via the main enterance. Inoxx has also made much more use of the large area inside the towers this time around. The flag rooms are much taller, with three ledges above them and multiple enterances. Overall, despite the occasional framerate drop, the new Face is one of my favorite UT2003 CTF maps.

hal: This is not the same map as CTF-Face. Good or bad, it plays differently (I think good) and does not suffer from some of the same exploits the original did. The bases, while more complex, are easy to learn your way around in.

I'm split on my thoughts on the jump pads. I suppose without them, it would be darn near impossible to cap, but it does shorten this map a lot, and they don't work well online. Half of the time I end up falling completely short of the asteroid.

This is one of the few UT2003 CTF maps that don't feel, or play, small. In fact, the bases may have too many entrances and exits, making some matches a simple exercise of "find the hiding flag carrier". 8/10 for the incredible aspirations of the map.

Geothermal - "Welcome to the Kretzig Geothermal Facility. We provide heat and water to nearly 20,000 prisoners hosted in the nearby prison colony. Thanks to the Tournaments, we've been about to add protein bales to our list of exports. Don't worry though; it's no one you know."

A three room base on each side with two exits each: two large pipes on a second level lead to a single exit, the other being the main entrance hallway. A catwalk in the central area leads to the pipe entrance of the other base. The central area is mostly open, with the winding catwalk overhead.

The flag room has two approaches and will take some teamwork to defend. The nearby ShockRifle is a good choice. The FlakCannon sits handily by the main entrance.

This map is small and simple. Steam pours from nearby vents, and the escape pipes have a great dirty galvanized steel reflectiveness.

RaptoR: CTF-Geothermal flows really well, giving multiple paths to the flagrooms. The only disadvantage to this is that it makes defending a little tougher.

hal: Another small CTF map. It looks nice and plays pretty well, though like Chrome, it suffers because of just two entrances. I'm a big believer in the "Three Base Entrances Rule". Not all maps need that to work, but in this case, because of it's small size and the narrowness of the entrances, a third would have really opened it up. Because of that, I think this map plays better with smaller numbers. 6.5/10

Lost Faith - "The caverns of Lost-Faith have been part of Gen Mo'kai legend for millennia. The spirits of slain gods are said to lurk in the shadows, using the bodies of the innocent as vessels to transport themselves away from their ethereal prison. They'll be waiting a long time."

The bases in this map are deep in facing caves with passages circling around and underneath the flag room, eventually coming out to the central area via one of three openings. A Bridge over a river culminating in a waterfall dominates the central area. Take a second to look at the spectacular sky and risk getting blown off the bridge and swept over the edge.

The lighting in the subterranean passages is fantastic. The crytalline growths in the ceiling give off a convincing glow on the cave walls. A mist emanates from a fall at the head of the river, providing cover for a sneak attack. The aforementioned sky, with its enormous planetary view is breathtaking.

RaptoR: CTF-LostFaith is visually amazing, and its winding caverns make for varied CTF play. However, as with any cave-based map, there's the opportunity to get very lost. Even after playing this map for a while, you'll still need to make use of the flag radars in the HUD. The waterfall area in this map is nothing short of beautiful, however there's no denying that it's a framerate killer, especially when the shock combos and flak spam begin to fill the air.

hal: Nice map! It can be confusing at first, but it's quickly learned and offers many ways to attack and defend. My main gripe with this one is the ShockRifle being on only one side, despite it being in the central area. It can be a dominating force in defending the bridge (the quickest way across the river) and it should be available equally. Other than that... this one's a blast! 8.5/10

Magma - "Magma is one of the most dangerous and dreaded arenas in the Tournament. Precarious walkways over a lake of fire offer little room for error; watch your step!"

A last minute addition to the UT2003 CTF stable, this one takes place in atop a large rock in a lava-filled world. A crumbling castle on each side serves as a base, and intertwining rock pathways extend from them to a central volcano. Inside the volcano are passageways leading to the other side, and a couple of dusty stalagmites, protruding from the lava below, on which sit some valuable pickups.

The castle is nicely constructed with a parapet lined walkway around the top of the open central area. The ground has a great cracked-earth texture and the lava glows and moves nicely. The skybox is terrific, featuring distant smoking volcanos and a hovering vortex cloud.

Speaking of skyboxes, look up... see that circling sattelite? That's your cue to find the Ion Painter Gun high on top of the volcano.

There are plenty of ways to get into the bases and plenty of ways to get out. The twisted pathways that dominate the map are close enough to dodge-jump to from another. This map has plenty of flow.

The wide-open view does take a toll on your system, however, as most people will find that their frame rates dip substantially on this map compared to others.

RaptoR: The first thing you’ll notice about CTF-Magma is its truly impressive graphics, this is without a doubt one of, if not the best-looking map in the game. However, this is also this map’s main disadvantage -- Magma will take your normal framerate and cut it in two, which is a shame because Magma plays really, really well. There's a lot of Z-axis usage here, which means you'll have a few decisions about where to go when you pick up the flag. I can see this map being popular online when the 'average' gaming machine becomes a little more powerful.

hal: Despite the high system requirements, I like this map a lot. It provides plenty of wide-open space to fight, lots of room for players, good connectivity, and great atmosphere. 8/10

Maul - "As you walk among the shattered ruins of the old retaining wall, the hip deep grass tugs at your clothes. The twisted skeleton of an ancient tree towers above you, giving life to the fragile beauty that has slowly reclaimed the abandoned fueling station. There is still poison moving through the soil beneath your feet, and still many battles to scar the land."

Each base in this map is a control tower located at the bottom of a central hill. Oil tanks litter the map and a chain-link fence surrounds it high overhead on the rocks. Twisted trees and a battered concrete wall seperate the two sides, and tall evergreen trees and metal scaffolding towers look down on the field.

This map makes heavy use of the terrain feature. The hillsides are full of dips and peaks that make fighting a little more unpredictable.

RaptoR: CTF-Maul is set to be a classic. Small, yet perfectly playable with a larger number of players, Maul shows off UT2003’s foliage effects as well as showing that a CTF map doesn’t have to be large to play well.

hal: I love this one. It's one of the few UT2003 CTF maps that play larger than it is. It's very simple, no chance of getting lost here, and it provides a unique kind of gameplay. You might get down the hill quickly.. but you're going to have to fight your way up every inch. 8.5/10

Orbital 2- "In the silence of space, the planets dance to a song far beyond the comprehension of mortal beings. Aboard the orbital station Alexandria, autonav systems attempt to echo the graceful movement of the surrounding planetary bodies, as its living cargo dances to a different song altogether."

This map stays true to the basic shape of the original Orbital. The flag room offers two escape routes. The lower passage leads down and through the center of the map. The other route leads straight out of the second level, splitting into two opposite directions towards the central area. The uppermost level in this area holds the Damage Amp.

Orbital varies from its predecessor in the removal of the facing sniper nests (eliminating the fourth base entrance). The lack of jumpboots in UT2003 forces you to rely on lift jumping to find shortcuts while fleeing with the flag. This map is large and can comfortably hold upwards of 10 players.

The look of the map stays true to the spaceship theme of the original, but is much darker and much more detailed. The huge "DE" in the ceiling is gone, but the flag room still features a nice view out the vertical windows behind the flag. A nice "defensive" spot is the ledge overlooking the flag and RocketLauncher.

RaptoR: ...an evolution of the original Orbital, rather than a straight remake. The map’s new style suits UT2003 perfectly.

hal: Well said, RaptoR. This may be the best playing CTF map in UT2003. The lifts allow for lots more arial acrobatics and are essential when on a flag run. The map is close enough to Orbital's layout to remain true, but is different enough to have it's own identity. This map manages to pull off it's impressive look and size, yet doesn't destroy your frame rate, and it doesn't turn into a flag carrier hunt. I'd like to have seen more CTF maps of this size in UT2003. 9/10