Review: The Tournament is on and this Dreamcast FPS is Unreal!
Although I was happy to see the release of Quake III: Arena for Dreamcast with network capabilities in October, the game didn't quite fill the lack of First Person Shooters within Sega's line-up. With a couple missing features from the PC port, I was slightly disappointed in certain areas of the game as well, turning me off from playing it any further after completing the levels and going through many of the other segments offered. Five months later comes none other than the Quake's PC rival, Unreal Tournament, which successfully fills the void of FPS titles with improvements and additional features over the Dreamcast version of Quake.
Both Quake and Unreal obviously come up short visuals on the Dreamcast when comparing to the PC counterparts. However, that isn't to say that the graphics found in both aren't impressive. The real question is, which dominates the other, and without hesitation, I can say Unreal Tournament comes out slightly on top of Quake. Though a bit fuzzier than the Playstation 2 version, the Dreamcast keeps the framerate steady at 30fps, even when all eight players happen to appear in one location and are all onscreen. When battling online, you may find the framereate to drop a bit, but it shouldn't be much of a problem, and if you have a broadband adapter, you're in luck.
Flying parts of bodies and other organs can still be found in the Dreamcast version as you destroy enemies on your killing spree and gun touting rampages. The death, animations with almost exploding bodies, gives you the feel of complete victory and invisibility in the game?until your own head is blown off from a sly enemy in the process. With smooth framerates and excellent visuals for any console, Unreal seems top-notch graphics wise on Dreamcast.
Maps are one of the key segments that make or break first person shooting games, and Unreal Tournament is filled with numerous levels and boards that are offer great design with superior features. Thing like elevators, pressure chambers, and warp portables keep the gameplay fresh and exciting, offering some extra fun during battles.
The pressure chamber adds great excitement when trapping enemies in a small room with the close of a door and an increase in strain on their body. It is all done with the push of a button, which can be activated outside the small space while looking into it through a window up above. Though, this innovative way of killing of enemies is a thrill to watch and enjoyable to see, just make sure you're on the outside of the action.
One time, I was in the midst of a shoot out with an enemy and was blasted into a warp portal by one of his explosions. While still firing away, I was transported to a different area where another opponent took my shots and was quickly killed. I jumped back into the portal to return and finish my other enemy off, receiving the title of Double Kill as a result. Crown me King, because your Unreal Champion is here!
Titles that pop up naming a Double Kill, Killing Spree, or Rampage seem to incite a bit of victory for players in signifying accomplishments in a match without getting in the way of the any action or ongoing gameplay on the screen. Also, different messages showing stats and info during the game like who you are battling and which player drew first blood, are just as effective.
At times, voices clips of opponents are played delivering a variety of messages from boasting about their skill or just bluntly saying ?You Suck.' A couple more audio clips would have been nice here, as the taunts become quite repetitive, although in concentrating to much on the gameplay, most people will never take notice. The background music is a bit dull, yet nothing annoying from what I heard. You'll still want to turn up the volume, as the sound effects are most impressive. As shootouts occur, bullets with be ricocheting off the walls and rockets will be exploding on impact with the surrounding walls. Turning up the audio can save your life at times and frightens neighbors as well with guns-a-blazin' and bullets-a-flyin'.
Though there may be a variety of to be found in Unreal Tournament, Quake III has more detail in making in each, leaving UT's weaponry to look slightly obsolete at first. However, Unreal does offer secondary fire mode, giving it an extra push to remain up to speed with Quake. Guns like the Redeemer offer somewhat of a mini-nuclear explosion with its one round clips and the body of the barrel taking up a good portion of the screen. Be warned though, this is one of those powerful weapons that can easily kill you in the process of using it in close fire combat.
Unlike what I found in Quake III, the developers of Unreal have completely mastered using the Dreamcast pad as the default to control the game, and not just the keyboard. Being a console man myself, I found it hard to adjust to the keyboard and mouse setup in Quake, but using the controller was no easier. Now, UT seems to work its magic in greatly utilizing either one for some addictive gameplay and multiplayer mayhem; No longer does your opponent using the keyboard and mouse have an unfair advantage.
With easy to adapt to control and addictive gameplay, you should be hooked as the tournament segment of the game offers with many appealing modes. Types like deathmatch, domination, and capture the flag will keep you entertained for hours with the smart bots that seem to act very similar to what a real player would. But, if that's not enough, you can always try to battle other human opponents through the net as Unreal Tournaments online mode can support up to 8-players at a time. Though a bit of lag can be apparent in both games, you'll notice that the amount is seemingly different. Quake's lag affects the gameplay a great deal comparably to Unreal, which sets the standard and takes the fast paced offline action online as well.
However way you look at things, you can't deny Unreal Tournament had balanced gameplay, alluring graphics, and enough features and modes to last you a lifetime. In my personal opinion, backed up by the facts above, you'll probably find to Unreal to be the champ over Quake challenge in every case and point.