Unreal Tournament

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This article is about the 1999 video game. For the game announced in 2014, see Unreal Tournament (upcoming video game).
Unreal Tournament
Series Unreal
Engine Unreal Engine 1
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast
Release date(s) Windows
  • NA: November 30, 1999
  • EU: 1999
Mac OS
  • NA: January 17, 2000
PlayStation 2[1]
  • NA: October 21, 2000
  • EU: April 20, 2001
  • NA: March 13, 2001
  • EU: June 29, 2001
Genre(s) First-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Unreal Tournament is a first-person shooter video game developed by Epic Games and Digital Extremes.[2] 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.[3]

Unreal Tournament is known and widely praised for its bots' artificial intelligence,[4] the product of programmer Steve Polge who had earlier risen to fame by designing the Reaper Bot for Quake,[5] 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.

Game types[edit]

  • 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.[citation needed]


Cliff Bleszinski served as lead designer on Unreal Tournament.[6]

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.[7] Epic Games started thinking about an official expansion pack intended to improve the network code while also featuring new maps and other gameplay elements.[8]

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.[8]

The development team for Unreal Tournament consisted of around 16 people.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]


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,[12] although there are various differences. Game composer Frank Klepacki was impressed by Alexander Brandon's contributions to the soundtrack.[13]


Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic PC: 92/100[14]
PS2: 77/100[15]
DC: 90/100[16]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 4.5/5 stars[17]
CVG 9/10[18]
Eurogamer 10/10[19]
GamePro 4.5/5 stars[20]
Game Revolution A-[21]
GameSpot 9.5/10[22]
GameSpy 94/100[23]
IGN 9.6/10[24]
PC Gamer (UK) 92/100[25]
PC Gamer (US) 90/100[26]
Computer Games Magazine 5/5 stars[27]
The Electric Playground 10/10[28]

Unreal Tournament received widespread critical acclaim.[14] 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!"[29] In March 2000, Unreal Tournament was second on a list of best-selling games in Computer Dealer News trade magazine, behind Quake III Arena.[30]

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."[22] 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."[22] 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."[23]

The Macintosh version of Unreal Tournament was equally praised. Macworld dubbed it the "Best network shooter for the Mac", and gave it a place in the Game Hall of Fame in 1999.[31]

The PlayStation 2 release did not fare as well as the PC and Dreamcast versions.[15] GameSpy criticized the graphics of the PS2 version, saying "Graphically, the PS2 version of Unreal Tournament seems uninspired."[32] Its conclusion stated "Sluggish gameplay, somewhat washed out colors and textures".[32] 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.[33]

In 2004, Unreal Tournament was inducted into the Computer Gaming World Hall of Fame.[34]


List of awards and nominations
Year Publication Category Result Ref.
1999 Computer Gaming World Game of the Year Won [35]
Best Level Design Won
GameSpy Game of the Year Won [36]
Special Achievement in Artificial Intelligence Won [37]
GameSpot Action Game of the Year Won [38]
Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Computer Action Game of the Year Nominated [39]
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 [40]
Macworld Best Network Shooter for the Mac Won [31]
PC Player First Person Shooter of the Year Won [41]

Player community[edit]

USS San Jacinto (CG-56) crewmembers playing the game, 2002

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.[42]

Unreal Tournament was played at the World Cyber Games in the years of 2001[43] and 2002[44] 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.[45]


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.[46] Digital Extremes announced Dark Sector in 2000, which was planned as a spiritual successor to Unreal Tournament.[47]

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.


  1. ^ "Unreal Tournament Release Information for PlayStation 2". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  2. ^ "Unreal Tournament". Digital Extremes. Retrieved June 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ Fargo (11 November 1999). "Unreal Tournament: The Next Logical Step in First-Person Action Gaming". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 2 July 2004. 
  4. ^ Lane, Rick (23 February 2014). "Unreal Tournament retrospective". Eurogamer. Gamer Network Ltd. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  5. ^ Unreal Tournament website - UT History
  6. ^ Reinhart, Brandon (9 June 2000). "Postmortem: Epic Games' Unreal Tournament". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Retrieved 30 November 2015. 
  7. ^ "Sweeney Apologizes for Unreal Woes". IGN. August 25, 1998. 
  8. ^ a b (Grossman 2003, Early Development, p. 91-92).
  9. ^ (Grossman 2003, Where We Go from Here, p. 102).
  10. ^ (Grossman 2003, A Game Takes Shape, p. 92-94).
  11. ^ (Grossman 2003, What Went Wrong, p. 100-102).
  12. ^ http://teque.planet-d.net/mp3/Teque%20-%20Kharismatron.mp3
  13. ^ Frank Klepacki (2008-11-08). "Interview of Frank Klepacki". Retrieved 15 June 2009. [dead link]
  14. ^ a b "Unreal Tournament (PC: 1999) Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  15. ^ a b "Unreal Tournament (PS2: 2000) Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  16. ^ "Unreal Tournament (Dreamcast: 2001) Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  17. ^ Couper, Chris. "Unreal Tournament Review". AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  18. ^ C., Alec (15 August 2001). "Unreal Tournament Review". Computer and Video Games. Future plc. Archived from the original on 2 December 2006. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  19. ^ Gestalt (1999-12-04). "Unreal Tournament PC Review". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  20. ^ Werner, Nash (1 January 2000). "Unreal Tournament Review". GamePro. International Data Group. Archived from the original on 6 September 2004. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  21. ^ "Unreal Tournament review for the PC". Game Revolution. 1999-12-01. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  22. ^ a b c "PC Unreal Tournament Review". GameSpot. 1999-12-09. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  23. ^ a b Fargo (1999-12-01). "Unreal Tournament review for the PC. The Next Logical Step in First-Person Action Gaming". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 4 June 2004. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  24. ^ IGN Staff (1999-12-06). "Unreal Tournament Review. Epic brings the first-person multiplayer game as close to perfection as it's likely to get". IGN. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  25. ^ Pierce, Matthew (October 1999). "Unreal Tournament Review. Single-or multi-player? Epic finally solve the age-old question and discover that there's really no difference at all". PC Gamer UK. Future plc. Archived from the original on 2 December 2000. Retrieved 14 September 2015. 
  26. ^ Egger, Dan (14 August 2000). "Unreal Tournament Review — Sick of the same old first-person shooter? Then welcome to the future of the genre!". PC Gamer US. Future plc. Archived from the original on 26 May 2002. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  27. ^ Perkins, Dave (10 December 1999). "Unreal Tournament Review". Computer Games Magazine. theGlobe.com. Archived from the original on 17 June 2003. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  28. ^ Ham, Tom. "Unreal Tournament will exceed all your expectations". The Electric Playground. Archived from the original on 21 October 2007. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  29. ^ Vega, Peter (April 2000). "Unreal Tournament: A Blast That Will Last". Computer Shopper. p. 139. 
  30. ^ "Off the Shelf Best Selling Titles.". Computer Dealer News. March 10, 2000. p. 43. 
  31. ^ a b Breen, Christopher (May 2000). "Unreal Tournament Review — Best Network Shooter for the Mac". Macworld. Mac Publishing. Archived from the original on 15 August 2000. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  32. ^ a b "Unreal Tournament Review (PS2)". PlanetPS2 (GameSpy). IGN. November 22, 2000. Retrieved 2008-05-06. 
  33. ^ Raptor (2001). "Unreal Tournament Review". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 17 April 2001. Retrieved 8 August 2016. 
  34. ^ CWG (October 2004). "Computer Gaming World — Issue #243" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  35. ^ CWG (March 2000). "Computer Gaming World — Issue #188" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  36. ^ The GameSpy Staff (1999). "The GameSpy 1999 Game of the Year: Unreal Tournament". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 10 August 2002. Retrieved 14 September 2015. 
  37. ^ The GameSpy Staff (1999). "The GameSpy Best of 1999: Special Awards". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 17 October 2002. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  38. ^ GameSpot (1999). "GameSpot - Action Game of the Year". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 10 August 2002. Retrieved 14 September 2015. 
  39. ^ AIAS. "Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Awards". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  40. ^ CNET. "CNET Gamecenter - Multiplayer Game of the Year". CNET. Archived from the original on 2 March 2000. Retrieved 14 September 2015. 
  41. ^ PC Player (January 2000). "PC Player — Issue 01/2000" (PDF) (in German). PC Player (German magazine). Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  42. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=FOkDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA1994&dq=GameAxis+mark+rein&hl=es&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwib96fakdjMAhUGXBoKHQRgAxEQ6AEIHjAA#v=onepage&q=GameAxis%20mark%20rein&f=false
  43. ^ "WCG History - WCG 2001". World Cyber Games, Inc. Archived from the original on 23 May 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  44. ^ "WCG History - WCG 2002". World Cyber Games, Inc. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  45. ^ "WCG Grand Final Tournament - Group Full League". World Cyber Games, Inc. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  46. ^ Thorsen, Tor (26 January 2007). "UT 2007 renamed, 360-bound". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  47. ^ Ajami, Amer (24 February 2000). "Unreal Tournament: Dark Sector Announced. Digital Extremes reveals details behind a massively multiplayer follow-up to Unreal Tournament". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]