My God, does UT
have gameplay. This is the first game to make my adrenaline pump like it used to when I played CTF 3.0 for the original Quake
. No description does this game justice. Sure, the single-player 'game' (tournament) is pretty contrived -- climb up the ladder and become the Unreal Champion -- but it doesn't matter. The gameplay behind it makes it all the more worth it. Never before have I played a first person shooter with such tight level design, weapon design, and AI. And then there's the gameplay modes.
First, the level design. Not only are the levels gorgeous, they're eminently playable. Every level has a beautiful flow, from the 'kill room' levels to grand sweeping designs with lots of kills here and there. Not a level feels contrived or pointless, and it really adds to the fun of the game that none of the levels are lame. The level designers did an absolutely superb job with UT.
Then there are the weapons. Your favorite rocket launcher is back, along with quite a few other weapons from the original Unreal. Along with them are a few new ones -- the nuclear missile being one of the most noticeable ones. Each weapon has a primary fire mode and a secondary fire mode, which you choose to use depending on your situation. No weapon feels grossly unbalanced, or terribly underpowered. I can't tell you how many times I've beaten some superpowered bot with my trusty starting gun. It just feels right, unlike Quake 2's terrible BFG10K that just totally threw the balance of the game.
And the AI. All I can say is, wow. I've played levels with seven-plus computer controlled characters running around, and sometimes I mistake them for real people. They chatter, they move realistically, they aim realistically. It's simply amazing. Sure, they tend to take the same paths through areas, but that's a minor complaint -- the AI in this game is absolutely superb. It does good on the lower levels, and at Godlike, you might as well just get used to not getting a single hit on the enemies. It's not like they're cheating by being able to see you behind them or anything -- it's just that they have those snap reflexes we all wish we had. I played against the various bots for hours, and all I can say is that the multiplayer aspect of the game is nowhere near as important anymore. Sure, real live players are fun (and the networking code in UT is ten times better than that in Unreal, so it's actually playable), but there's really no need to boot up your Internet connection and go against live people. Unless you're a low ping bastard, you're gonna get scragged. At home, you have a ping of zero. Aww, yeah.
UT offers a ton of gameplay modes. There's the straight deathmatch, which we all know and love, which can go to a certain number of frags or whatever. Then there's capture the flag, the venerable classic add-on, which plays pretty much identical to every other CTF out there. The new play modes in UT are as follows:
- Assault: Each assault level has an objective, from blowing up a prototype tank, to taking over a warship. The players are divided into two teams -- aggressor and defender. However long the aggressor takes to complete the goals of the level decides how long the defenders have to do the same. After the aggressors succeed, the map reloads, and everyone's teams are switched. If the previous defenders can manage to take it, they win, else, they lose. Simple concept, excellent execution.
- Domination: Two teams fight for control of a map, by the way of 'control points.' Touch a control point and it becomes your team's. Every five seconds you get a point for every control point you possess. Therefore, the more you possess, the better you're doing. A very interesting dynamic, which feels a whole lot like that old real-time strategy game Z slapped into a FPS. Good stuff.
- Last Man Standing: Everyone has a certain number of frags before they're out of the game. Last one standing wins. Otherwise, same as Deathmatch.
There are also Mutators that you can use to make the game more interesting, from the mundane like No Rocket Launchers to the bizarre like Fatboy, which means that the more kills you make, the fatter you get.