UT2003 final

I was at the mall today, so just on a whim, I stopped by EB. They happened to have one copy of UT2003 that wasn’t a pre-order, so I picked it up.

I am impressed.

OK, so maybe it’s still the same old ultraviolence you know and love from UT and Q3. But this, in many ways, is the product that I had hoped Quake 3 would be. Just watch the game intro to see what I mean. It’s hilarious-- totally a parody of a WWF match. And a very well done parody, too. There are pyrotechnics and screaming fans with signs, the whole shebang. After that intro you then have to prove yourself in the arena in two one on one matches, then two FFA DM matches, at which point you’re allowed to recruit a team from the pool of players. In a fun twist, you then have to defeat the team you just recruited to make yourself the leader. This match, funnily enough, happens on a remake of a UT map-- the one with the tall vertical open core, and the area you can run around on up top. I was playing it and thinking the whole time, man this looks familiar. Can’t remember the name of the map, but perhaps people who’ve played UT more recently than I have will remember. Anyway, once you complete that you open up the team DM ladder. I assume you can recruit new teammates, improve existing teammate skills, and trade players as time goes on, and we’ll see how much that adds (or doesn’t) to the gameplay.

Graphically it is outstanding and well worth the money for the eye candy alone. This is also one of the few (perhaps the first?) games that really supports Dolby Digital (on nForce mobos only currently, since there’s no other hardware I’m aware of that does DD), so the 3D sound is top notch too. I cannot WAIT to see the Deus Ex II and some of the other future games based on this engine, particularly considering how well the UT engine aged.

HOWEVER, you’ll be seeing framerates in the singleplayer that are equivalent to the botmatch benchmark results-- eg, shitty. This game will push your CPU and video card to its limits. Mostly CPU, really. I was running with all game detail sliders maxed at 1600x1200 and 4x performance aniso with the ol’ Radeon 9700, and I had to jack it down to 1280x960 to get a better framerate. I had real trouble with that first FFA DM trial, because it’s such a tiny map that you’re constantly in close quarters and having to turn rapidly to get a bearing on your enemies… and that’s where a solid 60fps comes in handy. Hell, you NEED 60fps in this game to play competitively against bots of any reasonable skill. I picked “skilled” and it’s no cakewalk for me. Less experienced FPS gamers like Bauman and Chick can dial it down to, say, “pantywaist”, so hopefully we won’t hear the bawling we heard about the WC3 bot AI.

UT2003 is… fun. Mindless fun, perhaps, but fun nonetheless.

Addendum-- the final game, assuming you max all the detail, seems slower than the demo. Partly because the demo only had 1/2 size textures to reduce the download size, I guess.

The full retail is better than I would have predicted based on my experience with the demo and the leaked beta. If you enjoy fast-paced deathmatch at all-- even if only as a diversion between rounds of BF1942-- you’ll probably like UT2003. I don’t see myself playing UT2003 online a lot, if at all, but the singleplayer alone is enough to justify the cost of the game for me.

Oh yeah. My only criticism other than the obvious “but it’s the same kind of gameplay we’ve had since Quake 3” – the announcer is HORRIBLE. Total, painful cheese. I can’t believe they couldn’t find some half-decent out of work radio DJ to do competent goddamn voiceovers.

excellent… thanks for the impression!

I was running with all game detail sliders “averaged” at 800x600x16 with the ol’ GeForce2, and I had to jack it down to 640x480x16 and drop more sliders to get a better framerate.

Jerk :)

From the IGN review, my new favorite quote ever:

“I hate them. They scare me like a kitten being attacked by an evil, sentient vacuum cleaner that climbs stairs and trees.”

He’s talking about the fanboys that’ll hate his review no matter what he writes, but does it really matter what he’s talking about with lines like that? :)

Cool, looks like this game will tide me over til Nolf2…

Just waitll we get TF2 and DNF… then 2002 will finally be here.

HAHA! THIS YEAR ROCKS FOLKS!@

etc

Jesus, the announcer voice is so. painfully. bad. What were they thinking?

I’m as amused by Mega-Ultra-Rampage Kill as the next guy, but why did the cheesy announcer voice bark out “FLAG MONKEY!” while I was playing the first CTF map? I kid you not.

Yeah, flag monkey, KEKEKEKE hilarious. Not.

Soon.

Hitman 2. Thief 3. Unreal 2. NOLF 2. Inquisition.

Soon.

Inquisition? I never expected that one.

No one does.

Oh man, tell me you guys planned that…

I just picked it up. It is, as wumpus says, almost worth buying for the eye candy alone. For this moment I guess it is the cutting edge in PC game graphics, and there are some pretty impressive effects. Best of all, it runs smoothly at 1024X768, mostly maxed, on my middling Athlon 1.5/Gf3/512 rig.

>This is also one of the few (perhaps the first?) games that really supports Dolby Digital (on nForce mobos only currently, since there’s no other hardware I’m aware of that does DD

The Santa Cruz Turtle Beach cards actually support Dolby Digital.

Stefan

I’ve been pretty happy with the framerates so far. On that map you mentioned (Gael) i have all the settings maxed out with the display at 1024x768 32bit with 16 bots and i get an average of 38-45 fps. Not great, but under such extreme circumstances it’s pretty good. On most maps i get anywhere between 50 and 85 fps depending on the map and the number of bots.

I’m actually suprised the framerate is as high as it is, but maybe i’m just not very picky. for me anything above 30fps is good enough, hehe

From the UT2003 readme:

Sound: Windows compatible sound card. NVIDIA nForce or
other motherboards/soundcards containing the Dolby
Digital Interactive Content Encoder
required for
Dolby Digital audio.*

Supporting 5 speaker output is NOT the same as supporting dolby digital encoding.

More on that

http://www.shacknews.com/docs/press/062002_ut2k3_update.x

On the sound side we have some amazing news! Dolby Laboratories informed us today that we are officially Dolby Digital 5.1 certified! UT2003 will be one of the first PC games to ship with true Dolby Digital support. Of course this requires hardware that has DD5.1 which today includes any Nvidia nForce motherboards but more hardware is on the way. Dolby is just as excited about this as we are, the report we got back said UT2003 had “perfect 5 channel panning!”. Of course on add-in cards like Creative Labs’ Sound Blaster Audigy we’ll also deliver an awesome 5.1 performance so you don’t have to have Dolby Digital to have 5.1 sound.

Dolby Digital encoding in real time is looong overdue on the PC platform-- imagine the ease of hooking up speakers when there’s a grand total of one cable running from your computer to your speakers (assuming the speakers have a DD decoder in them, or you could use any DD compatible hardware). I’m totally disappointed that the Audigy 2 doesn’t do this. What is Creative thinking? Man they suck.

strokes his Xbox with all the talk of 5.1

Well, I finished the singleplayer on skilled. I may have to revise my “worth buying for singleplyer” opinion on this one, since that was no more than 6 hours of play… if even that. Still, it’s an amazing bit of eyecandy, and there is definitely mindless fun to be had against the bots.

I think I enjoyed “bombing run” the most, as that game had (somewhat) unique mechanics. It really pays to pass the ball a lot-- if you can get someone way out in front, they have a much better chance of getting through. I really dislike the way the enemies spawn RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR GOAL. That means ultimately, it does not pay to kill your opponents on the way to the goal… because they can then insta-respawn RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. That’s just retarded. They ought to spawn in an area nearby, not directly in front of the goal. Or there could be a death timer of say 10 seconds. Bah.

I do hope this is the last game of the “adrenaline twitch deathmatch” type, though. It’s getting tedious-- they must innovate or risk boring us all. Although I suppose there are new kids being born every day who will think Unreal Tournament (insert year here) is the raddest game ever.

On the last round, which is a very difficult one-on-one, I recommend hightailing it to the elevators on either side of the map, then sitting above in the circular ring area and watching for your opponent to enter the elevator on either side. Take some potshots if you can while he’s getting on the elevator, then plug him with rockets or flak (both are very near the elevator entrances) as soon as he emerges at the top.

I was never able to beat that goddamn robot guy in the final match of UT. So cheap! Can’t remember what skill level I played it on, though.

Also, I figured out what the announcer was saying-- “FLAK MONKEY”. Not flag monkey. It happened later in a bombing run game, and I made the connection. I loves me some flak.

Ugh, I’m having a rough time with Malcom in the 1 on 1. I tried the strategy of hanging out at the top initially, and it seems to work, but then all my strategies seem to work until I’m up five or six to nothing on him. Then suddenly he just stops missing. Ugh.

Overall I’m having fun but I definitely echo your sentiments about the spawning in bombing run. My first thought was that spawning at the goal is the only “fair” thing to do for the defense because if you spawned anywhere farther away from the goal than the offensive guy with the ball already was, you couldn’t ever catch him (adrenaline excepted). But then I realized that’d be a good thing, that should be the reward for being able to mow down some defenders while handicapped with having to carry the ball. I think spawning directly outside the “base” would be more fair. If the action’s fast and furious out in the center of the map where the ball spawns (and it usually is), the defense would still spawn in with the opportunity to get back into the action (quicker actually), but if the offense can put together a capable assault and punch through into the base they’re rewarded for it instead of suddenly facing off against five goalies.

You get up 5-6 to zip? Damn. Mine was a real nail biter all the way, I beat him 10 to 9.

As undeniably cool as some of the maps are, that pseudo-WWF intro may be my favorite part of the game. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t follow through and develop the bot personalities like, say, a WWF game would-- that could have been extremely cool in an over the top way.

Also, I intensely dislike the way the TUTORIAL encourages you to bunny hop as much as possible! Now with double-jumping! Between that and the constant “pitch the translocator out in front of you while running” stuff, it’s enough to break me. Oh yeah, and the UT designers’ obsession with low gravity, which is so very fucking tedious. It’s the “but this one goes to 11” of first person shooters.