As someone who has never really gotten into the Unreal series or PC shooters in general, learning to run and gun with one of the seminal shooters of our time was and has been a challenge. It’s a challenge in patience and in equilibrium, mostly because I can’t play older first-person shooters without migraines and vomiting. So, if a game could persuade me to sit down and enjoy the fruits of its murderous labor, then more power to it. Unreal Tournament didn’t have to try to hard to work that magical feat.
Unreal Tournament is a patchwork of ideas found commonly in modern shooters. It’s arena-based play that requires you to hunt down and eliminate the competition. That’s not that hard of a concept, actually. You’re given an arsenal with which to complete your reign of carnage and helpful items such as health and armor boosts. While the concept is easy, the number of control options offered can easily overwhelm even a seasoned shooter veteran. Mostly, you’re just looking for a way to aim and shoot, but there’s about 15 different ways to set up your gunning exploits in UT. There’s a wealth of modes offered, too, and you can’t go wrong with picking any of them. It’s nice to be able to practice before jumping into the main story mode, or play a good Capture The Flag match.
Despite the variety of modes to run through, the character selection isn’t all that varied. Stalwarts, like Malcolm from the original Unreal, are available but beyond that the character selection is a little blah. There are some to be unlocked but the question remains: Do you want to go through the trouble of unlocking a character that you aren’t going to care about?
The soundtrack is decent, with a few standout tracks so there’s something to spice up the disappointment of the character selection. The graphics are OK, but like that dearth of characters, there isn’t much to get excited about. For the translation to PlayStation 2, the game plays and looks OK. It’s nothing special but it isn’t terrible, either. Just don’t expect super impressive PC quality.
Unreal Tournament is an interesting experiment. It’s a PC juggernaut that tries its hand at accessibility in the home market and doesn’t fail miserably yet doesn’t entirely innovate, either. If you were wondering what the hype was all about for the PC darling, the PS2 version is just the right version to introduce you to the world of Unreal.