This has been one exciting month. First, Legend Entertainment accepted my bribes and allowed me to beta test XMP. Second, Matt Frary, PR guru of Atari, asked if I could attend an UT2004 private LAN event in San Francisco, California. I just got back from the Gulf and wasn't too sure about leaving my wife and kids to go on a cool vacation without them tagging along. My wife, with her hair in rollers bigger than Coney Island's Ferris wheel and face painted with some green gooey mask that only a baby could create in a diaper, convinced me I should go--trust me, it wasn't a hard decision. Therefore, I expeditiously packed my bags and was en route to beautiful California.

I arrived a day early and checked into the very nice Pleasanton Courtyard by the Marriott hotel. I spent the night doing what any gamer would do, watched pr0n..erm...I mean Star Trek. A few beers..erm...sodas later, I awoke in anticipation of the arrival of the other pilgrims. Matt stated BeyondUnreal was the only Unreal site attending this event. Other media icons included Computer Gaming World's J. Liu, G4 Media's G. Purcell and television crew, IGN's D. Adams, Play Magazine's T. Ham, representatives from PC Gamer, Gamespy and many more. In addtion, CliffyB and Jay Wilbur attended the event to give us the details about UT2004. I never met Cliffy before and our email communications usually revolved around "cool", "awesome", and "thanks". Thankfully, our verbal communication exchange leaped out of the Stone Age and produced more than a few grunts and tongue clicks.

CliffyB and Jay Wilbur were great hosts and made the event enjoyable, entertaining and interesting. CliffyB sported his usual up beat hair style and Jay was extremely entertaining. Jay really was deep into the game with loud orders to defend a node and audible grumbling when a team mate was caught sleeping on the job. Of course, I can't forget the man at Atari, Matt Frary for all the aimbot like shots he got on me and the sneaky stab in the backs during our massive duels. We spent a majority of the time hunting each other and spamming Flak and goo into each other's faces...and that was offline.

Online activity was captivating. Before I start on the details of each new game type and what UT2004 has in store for the fans, I want to preemptively give my humble opinion. You are going to love this game! Although we will see some of the trademark features from UT2003, this will not be a reinvention of the wheel. UT2004 adds more excitement, new game types, alluring gameplay and improved mechanics. From the models, maps and new game types, this will be considered as the true successor to Unreal Tournament, albeit with vehicles.