Quake 3 arguments aside, Unreal Tournament really is an innovative game. It is true that Quake 3 only has one type of game - deathmatch - where Unreal Tournament has a number of different game types. However, it has that distinct id Software flavor from the Quake 1 and 2 days. It looks, feels, and plays differently from Unreal Tournament, and which one you play - that is, if you don't play both - will depend largely on taste.

In Unreal Tournament's defense, it does have these advantages over Quake 3:

  • An actual plot. Unreal's plot is much stronger and more well-developed than UT's plot, but UT actually inherits from Unreal's plot. :)

  • Different engine design. The engine used in Unreal and Unreal Tournament is capable of rendering positively gargantuan outdoor scenes that would make other engines grind down to a slide show. Other engines, like the Quake engine, are optimized for indoor scenes. The tradeoff is that some indoor scenes may be faster with other engines than with the Unreal/UT engine, but once you go outside - REALLY outside, as in the great outdoors, not as in a 30-foot-square courtyard, Unreal/UT will still be cooking along at 30 or more FPS (depending on your computer and video accelerator) whereas the other engines will choke. Giant scenes are rendered at high framerate. They do, however, slow down if there are a number of players visible at great distance, and speed up again as those players dart out of sight. (Most levels are not like this; I can only think of one CTF level that has this problem.)

    For example, Unreal features a level called the Sunspire. Picture a giant lava pit, about a half mile across, with a large stone obelisk about one mile tall and 1/4 mile wide. The majority of the gameplay is inside this obelisk, which is partially hollowed out; you start the level on the outskirts of the lava pit, and cross a sort of elevated peninsula and then a bridge to enter. The exit is at the top.

  • Bots that talk shit. It had it before Quake 3, and many people thought it odd that the Quake 3 demo started featuring this after the Unreal Tournament demo already had it. And it wasn't actually recorded voices - it was just typed messages. With bad grammar. Almost as if it were an afterthought.

  • Excellent AI. The bots can be set to any skill level from easy to godlike. There is also a feature called auto-adjust skill, in which the bots will attempt to match the average skillset of the player(s) they are currently engaging. The more skilled the bot, the more it will act like a human player; it may jump, strafe, and move in random directions specifically in order to avoid getting hit. Bots in other games run in straight lines. They may have low reaction times, but their evasion strategy is either way off or nonexistant.

  • The following game types:
    • Tournament DeathMatch - Players slaughter each other indiscriminately until the time runs out or someone gets a preset number of frags.
    • Tournament Team Game - Same as above, except that players don't kill people with the same color armor.
    • Assault - Two teams. One team defends a base, and the other assaults it. The assaulting team's goal is to destroy a certain target or targets. Once this is done, the formerly defending team becomes the assaulting team, and must destroy the same target or targets for the same amount of time it took the formerly attacking team, now on defense, to destroy it or them.
    • Domination - Two or more teams. There are usually three checkpoints in the level. The goal is to step on each checkpoint, turning it your team's color. Team score is measured by how long each checkpoint stays its color, not by frags. Killing people on other teams is done mainly when they try to change the checkpoint to their own color by stepping on it.
    • Capture The Flag - Two teams try to defend their own flags, which are usually in fortified bases. At the same time, they try to fight their way into the enemy base to steal the enemy flag and run it back to their own base. To score, you must bring the enemy flag back to where your flag is planted in your base. However, if your flag has been taken, your team must get it back before you can score.
    • Last Man Standing - A quick and bloody game type. The last man alive wins.
  • UnrealEd is shipped with both Unreal and Unreal Tournament. Add this to the fact that the game levels are stored as individual files, and you get to create new levels based on the ones which shipped with the game! Most other game companies jealously guard their maps, encoding them into a format where you either can't edit them at all, or can only edit them by reverse-compiling the maps, in which case you lose all the grouping information that makes the various parts of the map easier to deal with.

  • Last, but most definitely not least, The Redeemer.

Another notable thing about Unreal and Unreal Tournament is the music. It isn't MIDI nor MP3 nor Redbook CD audio. It's done by tracking. Tracking is the preferred method of music creation for many who have computers but not MIDI keyboards nor actual instruments, since just about anyone can get together samples of instruments and use a tracker to write music which is played back using those samples. That means you can write the music for your custom level, and distribute it with that level, and the game has built-in support for your music - and it sounds good - the way you WANT it to sound.

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