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|Engine||Unreal Engine 1|
Unreal Tournament is a first-person shooter video game developed by Epic Games and Digital Extremes. It was first published by GT Interactive in 1999 for Microsoft Windows, and later released on the PlayStation 2 by Infogrames, and on the Dreamcast by Secret Level. The game is based on the same technology that powered Unreal, but the design of Unreal Tournament shifted the series' focus to competitive multiplayer action.
Unreal Tournament was designed as an arena first-person shooter, with head-to-head multiplayer deathmatches being the primary focus of the game. The game's single-player campaign is essentially a series of arena matches played with bots. For team matches, bots are again used to fill the roles of the player's teammates. Even on dedicated multiplayer servers, bots are sometimes used to pad out teams that are short on players.
Unreal Tournament is known and widely praised for its bots' artificial intelligence, the product of programmer Steve Polge who had earlier risen to fame by designing the Reaper Bot for Quake, one of the earliest examples of an effective deathmatch bot. The player can choose the bots' skill level (anywhere from "Novice" to "Godlike") or have it automatically adjust to the player's performance. Bots can be further customized by changing names, appearance, accuracy, weapon preferences, awareness, and so forth.
- Assault: This game type is played with two opposing teams, one assaulting a "base" and the other defending it. The map is set up with a number of objectives which the attacking team must complete (usually in sequence) such as shutting down a power generator, entering an area, triggering a button, et cetera. The team who first attacks then defends, and attempts to defend for the entire time they attacked. If they can accomplish this, they win the map. If the team defending first assaults the base faster than the other team, they win the map. If both teams defend for the maximum amount of time the map is a tie.
- Capture the Flag: Players compete to capture the other team's flag and return it to their base. Competitive teams must use a great deal of teamplay. Both teams must defend the base from incoming attackers and get into the other team's base, take their flag and return to base. This requires that the team protect their flag carrier very well from enemies in order to complete their objective.
- Deathmatch: A classic every-man-for-himself player vs. player combat. The objective is to out-frag all opposing players.
- Domination: Teams compete to control various control points to earn points and win the map. Standard maps contain three control points. Control of these points is initially accomplished through occupation (physically occupying the space), but control of a point continues until a player from another team occupies the space. The more control points one team controls, the faster it gains points.
- Last Man Standing: Similar to Deathmatch, the player's objective is to remain alive longer than their opponents, putting an emphasis on number of deaths rather than kills. Players start with all weapons available, fully loaded, and have a set number of lives. Power-ups, including health and ammunition packs, are unavailable. Once a player runs out of lives they lose and have to wait as spectators until the match ends.
- Team Deathmatch: Teams compete together to out-frag the opponent team. Like Capture the Flag and Domination in this version—and unlike subsequent releases—four teams were allowed: Red, Blue, Green and Gold.
When Unreal was released in May 1998, it was well received by the press. However, it soon became apparent that the quality of the network code used for multiplayer matches was hampering the game's further success. In the months following Unreal's release, improving the game's multiplayer became the development team's top priority. Epic Games started thinking about an official expansion pack intended to improve the network code while also featuring new maps and other gameplay elements.
The team began work on the expansion in the summer of 1998, but the task became complicated by Epic's organisational structure. During the development of Unreal, the team members at Digital Extremes were working in Ontario, Canada, while the members at Epic were based in North Carolina, in the United States, requiring regular travel to Ontario. To remedy this, Epic decided to centralize the teams in Raleigh, North Carolina, and by September work on the expansion could begin. Steve Polge set about laying the foundations for the new game types, such as Capture the Flag and Domination, and level designers created the first round of maps for testing. The content grew quickly, and soon the team realized that it had underestimated the task. In November, after a meeting with publisher GT Interactive, Mark Rein suggested releasing the work as a standalone game instead of an expansion. The team was reticent at first, but soon accepted the idea, and in December the game became known internally as Unreal: Tournament Edition.
The development team for Unreal Tournament consisted of around 16 people. Most team members had worked on Unreal, though Epic hired a number of new developers to reinforce the team. Brandon Reinhart was one such hire, joining Epic in August 1998 to help with the support of Unreal and the development of Unreal Tournament. In December 1998 Reinhart discovered an Unreal mod called UBrowser, which provided a new user interface for finding multiplayer matches. After showing it to James Schmalz, the lead designer at Digital Extremes, Schmalz decided to hire the mod's author, Jack Porter. After only a few weeks Porter was already working with the team, replacing the game's existing menu system with his new interface.
During the game's development, the team lacked artists. Shane Caudle and the artists at Digital Extremes couldn't make enough new textures because of the amount of diversity in characters and maps. Epic hired independent artists, Steve Garofalo and John Mueller, to reinforce the team. This was shown to be rather inefficient, and so the developers were limited to a small amount of textures.
31 second sample from the Main Menu theme of Unreal Tournament, written by Alexander Brandon.
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The soundtrack for the game was primarily written by Alexander "Siren" Brandon, Michiel "M.C.A." van den Bos, Andrew "Necros" Sega, and Dan "Basehead" Gardopée, the same music artists who wrote the Unreal soundtrack, although only Brandon and Van Den Bos remained credited for it. The game (in contrast to Quake, which used CD audio) employed tracker music, which resulted in a considerably good sound quality with very little size trade-off.
Two additional tracks were contributed: one ("Fire Breath") by Tero "Teque" Kostermaa and Kai-Eerik "Nitro" Komppa, and one ("Razorback") by Peter "Skaven" Hajba. These, however, remained uncredited for reasons unknown—Hajba's credits are in fact still intact in the instrument data in the file itself, and the original version of Kostermaa's song is available from his website, although there are various differences. Game composer Frank Klepacki was impressed by Alexander Brandon's contributions to the soundtrack.
Unreal Tournament received widespread critical acclaim. Mainstream press reviews praised the graphics, gameplay, maps and multiplayer capabilities of the game. Computer Shopper concluded "Quake may have spawned the online deathmatch, but Unreal Tournament has taken it to the next level with its amazing graphics and fast-paced action. Online or off, this game rules!" In March 2000, Unreal Tournament was second on a list of best-selling games in Computer Dealer News trade magazine, behind Quake III Arena.
GameSpot praised Unreal Tournament's graphics, noting "As good as the original Unreal looked, Unreal Tournament looks even better. The character models and skins look excellent, and there are quite a few choices to make when designing your character." GameSpot also praised the multiplayer gameplay, weapons and level design: "The first-person shooter genre is fiercely competitive. But Unreal Tournament rises above the rest with its solid multiplayer performance, from its good weapon balance to its great level design." The game was similarly reviewed by GameSpy, who concluded: "Unreal Tournament raises the bar for first person teamplay games. The mutators, bots, teams, and sheer number of maps give the game an awesome depth and replayability. This game is stuffed with content and polished until it gleams."
The PlayStation 2 release did not fare as well as the PC and Dreamcast versions. GameSpy criticized the graphics of the PS2 version, saying "Graphically, the PS2 version of Unreal Tournament seems uninspired." Its conclusion stated "Sluggish gameplay, somewhat washed out colors and textures". In addition, the PS2 version only allowed multiplayer games on 11 maps (7 deathmatch and 4 capture the flag). A novel, but relatively unused, feature is the ability to connect a keyboard and mouse through the PS2's USB ports. Players could then play in a similar manner to the PC version. This also allowed for up to 3 players without the use of a PlayStation 2 Multitap. GameSpy cited both slow framerate speeds and low sound quality as problems with the Dreamcast version.
|1999||Computer Gaming World||Game of the Year||Won|||
|Best Level Design||Won|
|GameSpy||Game of the Year||Won|||
|Special Achievement in Artificial Intelligence||Won|||
|GameSpot||Action Game of the Year||Won|||
|Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences||Computer Action Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|Computer Game of the Year||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering||Won|
|Game of the Year||Nominated|
|Computer Strategy Game of the Year||Nominated|
|CNET||Multiplayer Game of the Year||Won|||
|Macworld||Best Network Shooter for the Mac||Won|||
|PC Player||First Person Shooter of the Year||Won|||
Many fans have taken advantage of the chance to create mods for the game. These range from slight changes on some aspects of gameplay (such as map voting) to total conversions. One modification, ChaosUT, became popular enough that it was included with the 'Game of the Year' edition of the game, while Tactical Ops: Assault on Terror was released as a stand-alone retail product.
Unreal Tournament was played at the World Cyber Games in the years of 2001 and 2002 where the title was contended for in a deathmatch 1 vs 1 environment. This was where UT was played on an international scale, where players from all around the world went head to head to win The Tournament.
The success of the original Unreal Tournament spawned four sequels, including Unreal Tournament 2003 and Unreal Tournament 2004 (on Unreal Engine 2.x), Unreal Tournament 3, which was originally codenamed UT2007, and the upcoming Unreal Tournament reboot. The yearly naming structure, based around marketing the franchise as a competitive sports title, was abandoned shortly before the launch of the third sequel. Digital Extremes announced Dark Sector in 2000, which was planned as a spiritual successor to Unreal Tournament.
There have also been several efforts to remake Unreal Tournament by the community using newer engine versions, the largest in scope being Unreal Tournament Revolution, a total conversion for Unreal Tournament 2004, featuring new music by original Unreal Tournament composer Michiel van den Bos. Because of differences in the styles of the sequels, the goal of such remakes are typically to take advantage of newer engine features and graphical capabilities while remaining true to the gameplay and style of the first Unreal Tournament.
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