In June of '98, Epic Megagames released the much-heralded Unreal. It's breathtaking graphics, unique weapons, and immersive atmosphere were counterpointed by its initially weak internet play. Seventeen months later, Epic and its partner Digital Extremes turned the world on its ear with the now legendary Unreal Tournament. What started out as a botpack for Unreal had blossomed into a mammoth game introducing three new gametypes, fifty maps, and graphics that put the original to shame. The Unreal Engine had taken an amazing step forward, producing a game that surprised Unreal's biggest fans and critics alike.


Epic Megagames and GT Interactive (their former publisher) were purchased by Infogrames. Epic Megagames changed their name to Epic Games and began working on evolving the Unreal Engine. Digital Extremes was given the task of creating the sequel to the award-winning Unreal Tournament. Epic and DE decided that Unreal Tournament 2 needed to be better defined from the Unreal II singleplayer game being developed by Legend Entertainment. It needed its own identity. That identity would focus on the Tournament aspect of the game and give it a more "sporting" feel. The focus would be on multiplayer and team games. The name was changed to Unreal Tournament 2003 to better reflect what the game would be about, implying the "season" aspect of a sports league.

I traveled north to Ontario, Canada, the home of Digital Extremes, to see what they had created out on their own.

Upon arrival, and after a brief tour of the offices by Pancho Eekels, I sat down at a computer to check out Unreal Tournament 2003 and listened as Pancho explained a little about the game. While developing Unreal Championship, the X-box-exclusive Unreal game, it became clear that with a little bit of tweaking, the content being created on the newest build of the Unreal Engine would be perfect for PC players. As it turns out... a lot of tweaking. The entire GUI (graphical user interface), HUD, maps, control, and even gameplay would need to be altered for the PC game. The results sat on the monitor before me.