|Publisher: MacSoft Genre: Action|
|Min OS X: 10.1 CPU: G4 @ 700 MHz RAM: 256 MB|
|Unreal Tournament 2003|
July 21, 2003 | Michael Yanovich
First-person shooters. I love 'em. I can't get enough of them. As soon as I solve one, I can't wait to play the next one, and I roam around cyberspace in multiplayer mode wasting everything that moves until the next release falls into my clammy little hands. It's not the only gaming genre I love – I've got my share of RPGs, strategy games, simulations, whatever. It's just that FPS games are so good when I need some quick stress relief.
Uh-oh. Those of you with photographic memories and an uncanny ability to focus on detail may recognize that I plagiarized that last paragraph. Granted, I copied it from another review that I wrote, but it's still a group of previously selected and ordered words.
Yet they seem so appropriate to today's review of Unreal Tournament 2003, the latest installment in the rapidly growing Unreal franchise. For those of you who need a quick primer:
Unreal came out in the late 1990's, and was playable (albeit barely) on my 7500 model Mac with just over 100 MB of RAM. And before you laugh, that was a HUGE amount of memory just a few years ago, and my 150 mhz upgraded PowerPC (pre-G3) processor may not have been a speed demon, but it was certainly respectable. In fact, the instructions said that a minimum of 75 MB of RAM was recommended, and that Mac users should feel blessed -- PCs of the day needed over 100MB to run the Windows version. My, how times have changed. Basically, the game was a single player adventure where you played an escaped convict who had to fight his way through spaceships, planets, and aliens. The game also had multiplayer capabilities via the internet, which proved to be one of the most entertaining aspects of the game.
Unreal Tournament was released a few years later, this time with a focus on multiplayer gaming. Even the single player campaign simulated a multiplayer game with computer-controlled bots taking the place of human players.
And now, Unreal has officially branched into two distinct experiences. The upcoming Unreal 2 will be, once again, a single player adventure while the Unreal Tournament games will theoretically be a string of annual releases designed to take multiplayer gaming to the next level.
Enter Unreal Tournament 2003. I'll be honest, there isn't much new under this particular sun. In fact, Assault, one of the most original (though somewhat poorly realized) gameplay modes of Unreal Tournament, did not make it back for the 2003 installment. (Note that it will be returning in the 2004 game.)
So why even consider UT 2003? That's easy: eye candy. The original Unreal was the first shooter to have halos surrounding bright light sources, and it also featured a bevy of other graphical advances. That groundbreaking tradition continues in UT 2003, which boasts stunning visuals and effects...if your computer can handle them. Once again, the game requires bleeding edge hardware to take advantage of all the new toys. And my testing machine, an 800 mhz G4 flat-panel iMac is NOT bleeding edge hardware, even if it does exceed minimum system requirements. But we'll get to that in a moment.