QAPete: UT 2003 is a big step in the right direction for the game series. I like what was added, I don't miss too much of what was taken away (and they're adding some of that back, anyway), and it's obvious that the game is evolving in a number of ways. I kind of wonder how far they can take this engine, or if they'll eventually tool up another one. Running on Windows, nothing touches UT 2003. Absolutely nothing.

larrystorch: Bombing Run (a.k.a. Team Smear the Queer) is a great new game type to come stock from the box. My favorite maps are Anubis, Slaughterhouse and Icefields. Skyline would be an ok map except for it bringing my system to a crawl. Adding the Zoom-Instagib and Lowgrav mutators really turn the games into a pretty fast-paced slaughter-fest, just how I like'em. In time, this may take over the top spot for team gaming, beating out TDM and CTF. Some of the maps have a great flow that just makes your game come together, like Tokara Forest, Orbital, and Inferno, while others will have you struggling to find your groove.

UT 2003 is a game that pushes past the existing limitations of gaming. Bigger textures, higher detail and more tools for the community. Mod developers will be able to take this game to levels that rival professionally published games. This alone will ensure the longevity of UT2003. I for one can't wait to see what these teams do with a great foundation to start from.

My only gripe is that the Linux client is not finished in my opinion. There is no reason why this game cannot run as well as the Windows version and without having to go thru config-hell. It has been done in other great games like Unreal Tournament. I hope that Epic will spend the time and effort to improve the performance of the Linux client.


Positive points:
Editing tools. Massive bonus here, above and beyond any normal release. This game has been released with the best set of editing tools of any game, ever.

The game looks good, visuals are great. Textures are a feast for the eyes in most cases, and the new engine shines. The eye candy for map design is awesome.

Good selection of mutators, the abiliy to remove adrenaline is a good thing.

At it's core, it's still UT gameplay which is a good thing.

Bombing run rocks.

The menu system, lack of irc client, inability to really tweak the game like you could with UT (bot names, etc).

Characters are small and difficult to see.

Hit feedback sucks. Cant tell which direction you are getting hit from.

Sounds are a mixed bag. Some are well done, others just sound like complete ass. The annoucer saying "Flak Monkey" sounds like he is saying "Black Monkey". Stuff like that should have neen fixed early on, even after people complained about it with the demo. No excuses for this.

The jump pads are worthless! They give you NO IDEA which direction you are going to get boosted, this is a massive design flaw. Even Quake 3 gives you a visual indication of where you are gonna go.

Because of these things, the game feels rushed and unfinished. Honestly, another month or two and some of the simple problems mentioned above could have been fixed before release.

The game is a good sequel, but nowhere near the impact that UT made when it was released.

hal: It's frustrating to try and sum up UT2003. It has a remarkably high standard set by Unreal Tournament to live up to. Each part on it's own is very good. The game as a whole is very good.

But somewhere in there... some things are missing. It's puzzling that so many little things didn't make the leap from one game to the next. Perhaps, Epic underestimated the importance each nuance held. Small things like the fact that the weapon name no longer comes on screen when you switch weapons (if weapon hand is hidden), to large things like no demorec. The game isn't "a series of options" as the joke goes, but Unreal Tournament did so many little things right, and seeing so much stripped from the game is downright mystifying.

The maps are beautiful, each texture is a work of art. Unfortunately, most maps are too small for the player load most servers run. There are very few suitable Team DeathMatch maps (4 vs 4). The Capture the Flag maps are also very small, with a few exceptions, especially given the Adrenaline Speed and dodge-jumps. The Bombing Run and Double Domination maps are the most successful as a group.

Don't get me wrong, there are some truly exceptional maps, but too many of them are best suited to very small player loads. I can live with the so-called gimmicky maps, because at least they are trying something different. The static meshes and terrain really allow these maps to reach a level of realism that was never possible before, and Epic and Digital Extremes definitely set the bar for craftsmanship very high.

A major plus is this is an immensely powerful engine and the editing tools are the about the best in the business. The Unreal community is going to do some amazing things with it. Not to mention, Epic and Digital Extremes are unsurpassed in the support of the Tournament series. Patches are already underway (and out as of the time of this article) to add in many missing elements. Not all, but many. Bonus Packs with additional content have already been promised from both companies. No one supports their games better than these guys.

But why is it so frustrating to summarize this game, you ask? In many ways '03 is a better game than Unreal Tournament. The weapon balance is better, the art and engine are definitely better. The maps, while not as appropriate in size as Tournament are definitely better looking. The new moves are a plus, but the Adrenaline seems to unbalance the maps. It's two steps forward and one step back.

There's no better first-person action shooter out there. Unreal Tournament 2003 stands alone, a step ahead of UT in total. But this game has a chance to take two full steps ahead and start to sprint if all of the little things that made Tournament so special are put back in their rightful place.

People who are disappointed by it are likely to be those who are put off by the high system requirements, those who unwaveringly want a prettier UT, or those who desire something else altogether. The latest trend, obviously, is toward slower-paced, object-oriented, teamplay games like Battlefield 1942 and Wolfenstein. 2003 is a teamplay game alright, but there's nothing slower about it. If anything, it's bigger, badder, and faster than UT.

Ultimately what we have here is a great game, but one that is not quite complete. When Epic and Digital Extremes make good on their promises to complete it, and we have every reason to believe they will, UT2003 will be a very nice addition to the Unreal series.

So, if you're holding out for some reason... don't be a fool. Get '03. There's nothing out there that even comes close to it. If you're like me, you got 1000 times your money's worth with Unreal Tournament, and you'll get no less with UT2003. The game is moving the series into new technology, no easy feat, and the possibilities with this game are endless. Take my word, you'll be playing this one long after 2003.

Last Second Edit: Download the UT2003 2136 patch. It adds lots of functionality to the game that was missing, and takes care of several issues.

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