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Unreal Tournament 2004: Unreal Tournament 2004 Demo released

Company: Epic Games

Epic Games has finally released a demo of Unreal Tournament 2004 onto the public, and boy is it a good one. If you haven't already downloaded it, you might as well go and grab it now, because you'll want it by the end of this preview. Although it only boasts six play types and five maps, the demo should give players enough to hold them over until the game's release in March.

Graphically, Unreal Tournament looks great and sports a crisp, clean look. While this could certainly stem from the fact that I am actually getting a chance to play the game on a video card that can handle the game adequately, what's here is impressive. The maps that are offered look great, and show off some nice details. The Assault map that takes place over three moving vehicles especially impressed me. The game's interface also seems much more straightforward and user friendly. The in-game player models are understandably limited, but look good.

Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch are modes that should be familiar to FPS players by now. Groups of players run around either solo or in teams trying to eliminate each other. The map that is offered for both match types is a twisting maze of open areas and corridors through what looks like an abandoned building. Capture the flag is another FPS standard which is pretty straightforward and features a standard map featuring two bases connected by a bridge. Of course, these modes are bit players to Unreal Tournament 2k4's other team-based modes.

Bombing Run makes a return from last year's edition and is as good as ever. This mode is played on a large field divided by a large mountainous ridge. One player grabs a ball while teammates hide in various tubes, platforms and sniping spots littered around the field. The player with the ball cannot fire, leaving him open to attacks. His job is to get the ball to the other team's goal. After reaching the goal, he must throw it into the other team's goal.

Assault mode is another returning favorite. In the demo you'll take part in a simulation that recreates the theft of a set of missiles. The game begins with one team playing as the defender while the other tries to steal the missiles. You're given a set of objectives to complete, such as hitting switches, making your way across each of the three transports and nabbing the missiles. The trick is that your team is working against a timer, so you have to be quick. It's the defenders' job to make sure the other team runs out of time. In addition to being able to do the typical Deathmatch style running-and-gunning, defenders will also have access to mounted turrets scattered on the main transport. A number of platforms are also available, such as a few nice sniper spots. Once the assaulting team's mission is over, the teams flip sides. Whichever team gets the best time wins the match. As much fun as this is, you're likely to spend most of your time with UT2k4's newest mode -- Onslaught.

Taking its cue from Battlefield 1942, Onslaught allows teams of players to frag each other in a whole new way. The biggest addition is user-piloted vehicles, which add a completely new dimension to things. Vehicles control rather well and are sure to have many players running for them as soon as the match starts. These include things like a tank and a Hummer. Two of the more interesting, and weakest, vehicles are the Manta and Scorpion. The Manta is a one-man hovercraft which benefits from speed. The Scorpion is a mobile, one-man buggy that is sure to be the bane of any on-foot solider thanks to its two, scythe-like blades that can pop out at the press of a button.

Those who aren't able to obtain vehicles can snatch up anti-vehicle weapons to even the playing field. Another interesting addition to your arsenal, which includes all of the weapons from UT2k3, is the spider mines, 8-legged mines that lock-on to nearby targets and run them down. The purpose behind Onslaught is to grab power nodes scattered throughout the map trying to link up power generators. This adds a strategic tug-of-war element to the game. You have to think about which nodes you want to defend and which to destroy.

Again, if you haven't downloaded this demo by now, you are missing out. Players who, for whatever reason, are not into multiplayer games can also join in the fun since all of the game's modes are also playable with AI controlled bots. Regardless of your gaming preference, Unreal Tournament 2004 is looking like something no FPS fan will want to miss out on.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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