The Good Press:
Incredible graphics, intelligent AI, balanced weapons, new game types, and surprisingly good single-player mode.
The Bad Press:
Does not accept third-party maps, and eats up memory for breakfast. Hard to network with Windows machines on a LAN. Different model types would have helped a lot. Giving orders is a little slow.
200 MHz PowerPC 603e
120 MB hard drive space
Supports: G3/G4 chips, USB gaming devices, OS 9, 3DFX boards, OpenG
The new king of deathmatch and team shooters comes to the Mac quickly. Run and get it now!
The king is dead! Long live the king! Unreal Tournament takes Quake's basic deathmatch gameplay ideas, and improves on them in almost every way. Westlake Interactive and Macsoft have treated Mac gamers to a near-simultaneous release with the Windows version, though it will need some tweaking to fully live up to the potential it has.
Quite frankly, Unreal Tournament is the best of the bunch when it comes to FPSs, and this is against the stiff opposition of Quake III Arena. Mac fans will be happy to know that the game is nearly identical in graphics, sound, and gameplay to the Windows version, and patches are being put out simultaneously. Graphically, the 32-bit surfaces are phenomenal, and combined with the colored lighting effects, you might lose the first few games while staring in awe at the arenas. They're almost too pretty to stain with (hopefully) someone else's blood. The sound is really amazing with a good set of speakers and a subwoofer, while the music is understated and unobtrusive. In particular, the insults are quite good, and I hope some speech add-ons are in the game's future. The tutorials for all of the game types do very well to teach the basics to newbies, and you can't fast forward through them, as you would miss important tips.
The weapons feel incredibly balanced. If you get a jump on someone, even the lowly hammer can take out a player who has a rocket launcher or a flak cannon. The gameplay is where the game truly shines, though. Look past the eye candy, and you have an amazing engine that has a long future ahead of it. The game sports four different game styles and a fifth option, which is a minor variant of deathmatching. Deathmatch and capture the flag will be relatively familiar to long-time deathmatchers. Last man standing is a deathmatch in which everyone has a limited number of lives, and the last person with lives left, wins the match.
Domination is a wonderful new game style, in which there are several control points that you touch to change to your team's color. For every five seconds you continue to hold a control point, your team receives one game point. The first team to reach a target score wins. Assault is a neat twist to the team game. One team must reach a goal (such as reaching the controls at the front of a speeding train to stop it) while the other team tries to stop them. A time limit is set, and if the first team completes the mission, the clock is set to the time that it took to win, and the teams switch places. The second team loses if they don't make it inside of the new time limit.
The first two game types are familiar, and they can get pretty intense, but domination and assault will keep you glued to your keyboard and monitor during the entire game. They are worth the game's price alone. Making this baby even sweeter is the fact that the single-player game makes the game lots of fun, even for beginners, and will actually give you a good run for your money.
The minimal story has it that you've joined a futuristic tournament for power and fame. You must go through a series of maps and opponents to get the trophy for each style, not counting last man standing. If you get all four, a special challenge series must be overcome to win the final trophy. This isn't easy, because the enemy bots are frighteningly human. While the bots are good opponents, their uncanny ability to run for health when hurt badly, or their propensity for killing you and swiping your rocket launcher nearly convinces you that you're dealing with other humans. The truly scary part is seeing a familiar name in the enemy roster and groaning because you had your butt handed to you a few times by that same character. In the team games, you're even treated to bots that acknowledge your orders and listen to you. These bots each have a different personality and feel, just like individuals.
The game falls short of Nirvana, though, and while my problems are nit-picky, I must take issue with the failure of the game to accept third-party maps. I've checked these maps on the Windows version to confirm that they do indeed work. The wealth of internal maps are well done, but you will want to try out some of the imaginative maps you can download from the net. [A patch is available on the MacSoft web page that addresses this issue. -Ed.]
This game also is a big memory hog, particularly when you want to take advantage of RAVE for the ATI chip sets included with the iMacs and G4s. Hard memory is much better than virtual memory; this is mostly due to the gorgeous graphics. It's definitely worth it, and it will shut up any Windows-owning friends who talk about how much better their games look over Mac games. Of course, you can work off of the lower-resolution graphics, but it's hard to do so after seeing the top-of-the-line artwork.
All of the character models are human, and a model add-on would be highly appreciated. Quake III includes unique character models such as a skeleton and an eyeball on limbs, and its variety makes UT's limited model skins seem chintzy. Also, it would have been nice to be able to give orders without having to go through three levels of windows while holding down a key. It's too slow in the heat of battle, particularly during a hot assault team game.
While it isn't perfect, a little more tweaking of the code will bring it incredibly close. The fact that this is an incredible value of single- and multiple-player gaming, with intelligent bots thrown into the mix and an amazing variety of game styles, makes this edge out Quake III as king of the deathmatch. Of course, if you really like deathmatches, be smart and buy both--you'll pretty much be assured of being showered in gibs for a long time to come.
- When you start a map, use the spectator mode to fly around the level and get familiar with the locations of the health and weapon power-ups, as well as the layout of the maps. You won't do well without knowing the map layouts.
- During a team game like capture the flag, you can still give orders before you start the game. In the single-player game, you can have all of your teammates cover your capturing attempt, or have an individual defend the flag while the others attack the other base.
- Load up on RAM if you want to take advantage of the improved graphics of a RAVE or 3dfx-compatible 3D card. At least 110MB of memory needs to be allocated to the game to really take advantage of the cards.