Many longtime gamers will know the Unreal games; Unreal, Unreal Tournament, Unreal 2: The Awakening, Unreal Tournament 2004 and Unreal Tournament 3 (Unreal Tournament 4 should be added to the roster within the next year or so).
The Unreal games may not seem like anything special, especially Unreal and Unreal 2, but the Tournament games are incredibly intense. As outdated as the graphics and engines may be, these games are incredibly fun (not so much for the first in the franchise, though).
The original Unreal just throws you into the thick of things, you have very little health, start with no weapons and there are no objective markers. The game isn’t exactly open-world, sure, but it is possible to get lost or turned around from time to time. One of my favourite mechanics in the game is that you can fake your own death; by pressing the allotted button, your character will effectively go into prone, you won’t be able to look around and you won’t be able to shoot either, a great way to fool your enemies into thinking you are actually dead.
Unreal Tournament is where the fun really begins. The campaign is incredibly basic: create save file, get through the tutorial, survive the many matches of which the tournament consists. You are given access to a wide range of weapons but can only use them once you’ve picked them up, if you die, your inventory is cleared and you have to pick all the weapons up again.
Unreal 2: The Awakening places you in the shoes of a space marine, dedicated to protecting the very borders of space itself. You are one of a small crew on a small ship, you collect weapons as you go (having only a pistol and a basic assault rifle to start off with), the weapons you pick up are upgraded by your ship’s technician, who then makes them slightly more powerful and gives most of them an alternate firing option as well. Just like the last two games, you are able to carry as many weapons as you want.
Unreal Tournament 2004 is the one that everybody knows, this is the game that truly laid the foundations for the first-person multiplayer action games of today. With fast-paced gameplay, your health burns quickly when you get shot, you find yourself relying more on armour pickups than in most other games of the time, health pickups are also vital; but do players share these out? Nope. Just like in Call of Duty’s multiplayer or in Battlefield, players don’t care if you die or not, they don’t care how many kills you get, but in modern games, you have to ensure your team wins, not just you; not so in Unreal Tournament 2004. See that health pickup your teammate just told you to get? Blink and it’s gone. Who took it? The same guy who told you to pick it up. That minigun? Mine, not yours. That rocket launcher ammo? Would have been mine but someone else got to it before either you or I could even get close. Oh look, you died, thanks for the extra ammo. Your loyal teammate would much rather be playing on Free-for-All, mowing through you and the rest of the players in the match.
Unreal Tournament 3 wasn’t much better when it came to team-based gameplay; again, your teammate would much prefer if you, the dude who set the match up, had set it to Free-for-All. And even if you didn’t, friendly fire is always on, your teammate can actually shoot you to death if he/she wanted to, and they probably would if it meant getting to that last health vial or even to the U-Damage pickup. Did someone find the Redeemer (the game’s equivalent of a tactical nuke)? Are you right in the thick of all the enemies? Not anymore, you and the rest of the enemy team just got wiped out in one shot.
Unreal Tournament 4 will be no different, the beta has shown this much.
The Unreal Tournament games have a way of bringing out the competitiveness in even the most timid of people, turning shy girls into screaming, swearing killing machines, even if only for the duration of the match.
Unreal Tournament is incredibly basic. A bunch of weapons, all with alternate firing options; health and armour pickups. And the ability to kill other players. No need for character classes, everyone moves at the same speed and all weapons do set amounts of damage per hit (double if you use the U-Damage pickup). It literally just boils down to player skill and nothing more. Sure, CoD and Battlefield require a lot of skill to become a pro player, but everyone has their preferred perks and weapon attachments, things that give them that suit their playstyle and give them that extra edge in battle, but Unreal Tournament strips that all away and leaves you with nothing but health, armour (neither of which really last that long) and weapons.
Time to plough through some enemies!!!
Image courtesy of Epic Games.