Ouch, that's gotta sting!Arguing over the strengths and weaknesses of the Unreal weaponry is stuff for forum posts and IRC flames. Balancing this many weapons is no easy task but Epic have made a few adjustments that they believe will help. The minigun is more powerful and the lockdown is gone, The FlakCannon secondary fire is slower and has a lower arc. the Lightning Gun recharges a little slower, and several other minor tweaks.

Perhaps the biggest "weapon" change is the slower weapon switching speed. The speed falls somewhere in between the switch speed of Unreal Tournament and Unreal Tournament 2003, again a concession in hopes of finding a middle ground. Only time will tell if it was successful.

The translocator is yet another hotly debated subject. Epic come through again with the ability to select from the translocator beacon trajectory from Unreal Tournament 2003 and the beacon trajectory from Unreal Tournament. The recharge rate is also slightly higher than it was in the previous edition, sure to be a plus for those familiar with Unreal Tournament's limitless translocator.

While we're at it, there are other tweaks that everyone will appreciate. The ammo pickups are a little smaller and while harder to see, they certainly fit the scale of the player and weapon better. Several returning weapons have all new models (classic models can be selected for these as well) and even the pickup platforms have been upgraded.

AVRiL Leaving New and returning gametypes bring with them new and returning weapons. Onslaught, the vehicle based gametype new to the Unreal Tournament series, features the most new weapons. Among them are the AVRiL (Anti-Vehicle Rocket Launcher), Spider Mines, Sticky Grenades, and more not featured in the demo. Returning to Unreal Tournament 2004, and exclusive to the Assault gametype (in the demo), is the SniperRifle, a high-powered rifle with a scope. You can take out enemies with pinpoint accuracy before they even see you.

  • Raffi_B: I honestly cannot find anything wrong with the weapons. They are all great, and I congratulate Epic on getting it just right.

  • Zenny: The guns in UT2004 are the Industrial Strength guns of the Unreal series. They look mean. It is a welcome change from the pansy-looking tools of the trade in UT2003 that made it hard to believe that they dished out as much damage as they did. Another favored change is the strengthing of the link gun, Epic has finally realised that most people will not link up together and have adjusted the gun to be powerful by it's lonesome.

  • .altan: The new weapons are awesome. Everything is certainly an improvement over UT2003 - perhaps barring the shock rifle, although the model is slightly better. Spider Mines and Sticky Grenades add some devious tactics for use in Onslaught, and the AVRiL really has the infantry match the vehicles. I'm rather iffy on the new Sniper Rifle though, the slow reload rate and the smoke obscuring my vision makes me favour the Lightning Gun. Speaking of which, it's a lot more useful in UT2004, with most fans claiming the reason to be that it "hits where you point it". Were the hitboxes tweaked in UT2004? Overall, I think the best improvement is to the linkgun - not only does it come with a better model, it's very useful now. And vital in Onslaught.

  • Sparky: Unreal Tournament 2004 has seen the addition of three new weapons, The extremely deadly Anti Vehicle Rocket Launcher (AVRil), Mine Layer, and Grenade Launcher. Also making a return from the first Unreal Tournament is everyone’s favorite, the Sniper Rifle.

    AVRil: The AVRil is available in Onslaught and is primarily used for taking vehicles out. Simply get a lock on a vehicle in the area and let her rip. The fun part of all this is that you actually have to guide it to destruction; it doesn’t automatically lock on, so in retrospect you actually have to do some work here. Using the alternate fire however does lock on, but with this comes some rather annoying complications. In doing this you’re actually restricting your viewing area as the weapon zooms and follows the target, no biggie but it sure takes some getting used to. At first I was under the impression this weapon was far too powerful, but really, after using it for a while I couldn’t imagine Onslaught without it. I find myself avoiding the alternate fire however, it just seems slower and not to mention I tend to die quite a bit as I can’t see what’s going on around me.

    Mine Layer: The Mine Layer (Also only available in Onslaught) is an odd one, but if you’re the dominant type then you’re really going to have a blast here. This beastie lets you shoot out eight spider mines, which on your command using the alternate fire will follow your painter around the map. Point them towards an enemy vehicle and you can bet your bottom dollar things are going to get messy. Once they’ve reached your designated destination the Spiders latch on and basically explode on impact, leaving a trail of destruction behind. Main downside is that you have to be careful near walls and step inclines, as they tend to explode, leaving you with a few bits of scrap metal and a nasty bank loan. For something even more potent you can grab a Manta and attach them to the side fans. Nothing beats taking them for a joyride past an enemy Goliath Tank and watching them jump off after it. Using the primary fire will also give you the option of simply letting them defend an area; this to me isn’t as fun though.

    Grenade Launcher: The Grenade Launcher (Also only available in Onslaught) is kind of a mixed bag. On one side you’ve got this really strategic weapon. Simply fire off a few grenades in someone’s direction, making sure they stick and dare I say it you’ve got yourself a walking time bomb. Using the alt fire will turn your walking time bomb into a mini nuke; best use it when he or she is close to a teammate as you’ll not only whip out the primary target but get some splash damage off too which in most cases will take groupies out as well. This doesn’t exclude vehicles either, it seems these babies stick to anything, excluding walls however. Spam regarding this weapon can be rather frustrating at times. Since the rate of fire on the Grenade Launcher is rather fast there's nothing stopping you firing the grenades off in every direction and praying you take someone down in the process. No biggie sure, but I do ask myself sometimes.

    The Return Of The Classic Sniper Rifle: UT2004 sees the return of The Classic Sniper Rifle from the first Unreal Tournament. Although we can only put it to work on AS-Convoy, which to me doesn’t seem to be the best of maps to use it on, you get a fair idea of how well Epic have balanced it. The primary fire has been slowed down (Thank God for that) and using the alternate fire brings up the scope. Using the scope however will see a small burst of dust being shot in your view, this does distract and just to point out the obvious, it’s meant to. I’d like to point out however; I’m having extreme difficulties pulling off headshots. I know I may be losing my touch in my old age, but I swear I’m aiming dead on.

    Unreal Tournament 2004 also sees changes to some of Unreal Tournament 2003’s arsenal. The Shield Gun, Bio Rifle, Shock Rifle, Link Gun, Flak Cannon, and Lightning Gun have all received some loving. One of the more pleasurable changes for me would have to be the Flak Cannon. The primary and secondary fire rates have both been slowed down a fraction and the arc of the secondary has also been shortened a tad, this to me can only be compared to sliced bread. Some of the weapons also received cosmetic changes. The Assault Rifle, Link Gun, and Shock Rifle have all been given a new model and they look great, most welcomed in my opinion.


All of the familiar gametypes return from Unreal Tournament 2003, DeathMatch, Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, BombingRun, Invasion, Mutant, Double Domination, and Last Man Standing. The real buzz, however, belongs with one new game mode and one returning from Unreal Tournament.

Ready... aim ... fire!

First, let's look at the new offering. Onslaught features a large selection of land-based vehicles and a couple of aircraft. You begin at your own base and attack the other team's base core by overtaking nodes placed throughout the map. You can only attack the other team's base core when you dominate the node closest to their base. The catch is that the nodes must be taken in order so that you cannot rush directly at the other base, but must choose a path (there can be more than one path) of links and nodes to make your advance. When you gain a node you also gain the weapons and the vehicles that spawn in that location, and you gain the ability to respawn at that node. So you can see, there is a certain strategy in the path that you choose. Most impressive of all is the link editor that allows you to create custom node paths that completely change the way each map plays. You can connect them in any number of ways or leave them out altogether.

Vehicles are something new to the Unreal Tournament series, and it's easy to say that it's nothing more than following the latest trend of vehicular team-based combat - except that you'd be wrong. Each vehicle follows the Unreal tradition of having multiple attack modes and plenty of style.

Hellbender Goliath Manta

The Scorpion jeep fires strings of exploding plasma that you can charge up for larger shots, while the alternate fire extends a pair of blades from the sides that you can use to mow down infantry.

The Hellbender is a three person vehicle that features a long range charged-shot energy weapon and a ShockRifle-like secondary turret that shoots energy spheres out onto the battlefield. Hit one of the spheres with that turrets primary fire and you'll set off a long chain of explosions... great for taking out infantry.

The Goliath is a heavy duty tank with a long-range shell and a machine gun for a second player. One of the favorites is the Manta, a dual-fanned one-man hovercraft that is perfect for slicing up players on foot or "jumping" over walls.

The Raptor is the lone aircraft in the demo (the full retail game features a total of 9 vehicles) with a primary blaster and a secondary missile for taking out other "airborne" targets.

You can also choose to man a turret to defend your base or any node that you own. Like many of the vehicles, you can zoom in on your target by pressing the alt-fire button.

Assault: Offense Assault: Defense

Assault makes a triumphant return from Unreal Tournament, pitting team against team in an objective based showdown. The map in the demo, AS-Convoy, features a fast moving convoy of vehicles carrying missiles which you either have to defend or steal. This time around, to make the game more accessible to newcomers, a fly-by tutorial shows you your objectives clearly and an arrow will always show you which direction you should be heading. There is a timed respawn that counts down for a few seconds to allow any respawning team mates to join you so that solo attacks are more rare. Hooray for the team! When the final objective is reached, you'll view a short end-sequence and then the other team must try to beat your time! A great effort was made by Epic to make this an easier to understand gametype, while still retaining the complex objectives. Like Onslaught, everyone can make a contribution to the team goal without being a top-gun.

  • Raffi_B: I used to be a die-hard CTF fan, but Onslaught is just so addicting! I spend every waking moment playing it, and when I’m asleep, I’m dreaming about pancaking with the manta, slicing with the scorpion, and unleashing hell with the goliath. Epic have done a fantastic job with Onslaught, and I look forward to seeing how successful it becomes.
  • Zenny: I was worried about UT2004 having too many completely different modes, but I was pleasantly suprised. All of the modes feel like they are from the same game, but with their own unique twist. Onsluaght has gigantic maps, Assault has a detailed story, CTF focuses on your movement ability, and DM relies on your crosshair. The common bonds between the gametypes prevent you from feeling like the game is a bunch of smaller games thrown into one.
  • .altan: Deathmatch is very, very fun; but UT2004 is really about Onslaught for me. It's probably the best gametype that I've played for any multiplayer game, ever. It's a bit like Double Domination - just extended in every way possible. Speaking of which, I was rather disappointed that there wasn't a Domination level.
  • Sparky: Assault has been brought back from the dead, and a smart move on Epic’s behalf I might add. There’s a ton of additions and changes to the way it works and all this adds up to something special in my book. From the little touches like the objective becons to the exceedingly beautiful intro scene which gives you the low-down on the map, granted you’ll only watch this once per map but it’s still nice to have. Great GameMode, endless possibilities and I for one can’t wait to see the other Maps shipping with the Retail.

    Onslaught, the mother of all GameModes! I don’t know who envisioned this GameMode, but they deserve a pat on the back. The vehicles bring a whole new dimension to the Unreal Universe, and I’m still to this day never going to play another game (FPS that is) that doesn’t at least use vehicles to some extent. All the vehicles have been balanced to perfection, there’s no given situation where one doesn’t work better than the other. They each have a purpose and that’s the beauty of all this, I could sit here all day and ramble on about the vehicles, but if you’ve played the game I doubt I need to.

    The premises for Onslaught works well, at times you’ll be thinking you’re about to put the match in the bag when all of a sudden the other team takes one of your Power Nodes and it’s back to square one. This adds for some interesting matches, dare I say.

    There’s only one department I’m a little disappointed with when it concerns Onslaught and that’s the map size. Sure, Torlan may be the baby of the game, but I highly doubt it. I was under the impression that these maps were going to be rather large in scale and contain more than sprawling amounts of terrain. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the Retail to gather a solid argument.

    I may be a little rash in saying this, but I feel Epic are going to attract a lot more people solely because of Onslaught, it rocks and there’s no denying that.

Next... Maps