We all know that UT2004 will include ground vehicles, aircraft, rocket and energy turrets, and new weapons. What you don't know is how they affect game play. I will admit I was a bit concerned about the addition of vehicles into a game. In most games, vehicles have unbalanced the game play because they were over powered in both armor and weapons. Those without a vehicle were forced to damage or destroy it from a distance. Well, this is not true in UT2004. Individual players on foot can easily evade incoming ground vehicles, dodge away from hovering Manta's, and hide from the heaven sent blasts of the Raptor. Protecting yourself against the vehicles is an option more than a necessity. You possess the capability to go straight up raw on their armored ass with any weapon. Besides the standard weapons (Assault Rifle, Goo Gun, Flak Cannon, Lightning Gun, Minigun, Redeemer, Shield Gun, Shock Rifle, and Translocator), UT2004 adds a few more innovative tools of destruction.

  • AVRL (Anti Vehicle Rocket Launcher): As the name states, this weapon fires a rocket to destroy enemy vehicles. As of this moment, the weapon is only available in the Onslaught game type. Primary fire launches the rocket, but should not be used until you achieve a target lock. Locking onto the target is easy, just point your crosshair on an enemy vehicle and press alt fire. Once the AVRL locks on, your view then changes (zoomed in first person view) and you can continue either to track the vehicle or launch your rocket. I found the AVRL very useful against the tank, but slightly effective against faster moving vehicles. The AVRL's rocket speed and homing ability are still being tweaked, so the final build might increased the effectiveness of the weapon.

  • Classic Sniper Rifle: Sniper addicts now have two "Head Shot" weapons, the Lightning Gun and the classic Sniper Rifle. OK, it is not a true resurrection of UT's sniper rifle, but does represent. Unlike many fans, I hated that weapon, yet I understood and accepted its role in the game. To those who feared the LG and SR, receive some comfort in knowing that the LG still has the interlaced zoom and the new SR, when fired, coughs up a puff of smoke to obstruct the shooters view. In addition to the smoke, the SR has a slight delay that prevents rapid re-fire of the weapon. Like the LG, the SR requires a second or two to "reload" before exiting another round. This gives the target a fair chance to change their underwear and dial 911. To the dismay of some, it appears this weapon is only available, by default, in the Onslaught and Assault game type.

  • Dual Assault Rifle: Ahh, how we all loved the gansta style feature of the Unreal Tournament's Enforcer. Although we don't receive the well-known animation, Epic did bring back the dual weapon feature. Primary fire still spews out damaging bullets and alt fire punts out frag-filled grenades. However, we enjoy the fact that two guns are better than one, especially in the heat of battle.

  • Spider Mines: I'm not sure whether to laugh or be in awe of this weapon. First, let me explain how this weapon works. Primary fire churns out the "spiders" and alt fire emits a beam that the spiders hypnotically follow. Why is that funny? Well, let's say you are on defense and tactically arrange the mines. Once an enemy approaches, you target the player, press alt fire and watch the spiders chase the player like a pack of dogs on a three-legged cat. The funny part is how the enemy player tries to evade the spiders like a redneck trying to escape from the alimony lawyer. Don't think you can sit on top of a hill and make your little spiders run all over the map; it doesn't work that way Ms Muffet. However, it is a very effective weapon, if used correctly.

  • Sticky Grenade Gun: Now this is a weapon I can appreciate. Under certain situations, the Sticky Nade is an awesome ambush device. The primary fire pitches out the nades and alt fire detonates the devices. So you can place a group of nades onto a device, in low grass, at doorways and even onto vehicles. Tactically place yourself in a location to observe the nades and whenever an enemy approaches...BAM! Gibs for breakfast baby. On servers that disabled team damage, freely place them onto your own vehicles and do a blind suicide run to your target. Or just stand-by and wait for an enemy player to attempt a hijack of your vehicle and enjoy your own version of a car alarm. Of course, your vehicle remains intact, ready for immediate use. Another surprise about this weapon is that a shock combo will activate the nades and cause them to explode. The Sticky Grenade Gun is a defender's dream weapon and UT2004 delivers it ready for abuse.