'Quake III' battles 'Unreal Tournament' in game world
By MIKE REVERS
Scene Tech Writer
If you are familiar with the first player shooters for the computer, then you are no doubt a fan of the "Quake" series from Id Software. The series quickly surpassed its predecessors, both in game play and strategy, but also in just plain fun.
For those of you who were fans of the first two versions of this series, the good news is that the third installment, "Quake III Arena," does not show signs of disappointment. Many things have been improved upon, such as the game's main graphics engine that really improves the frame rate and image quality. But perhaps the most important feature of the release is the built-in game modes that we have all come to know and love. Capture the flag, team deathmatch and a new spin on things — king of the hill — has been added to the classic. On top of that, the weapons have changed with the familiar favorites still in tow like the railgun, rocket launcher and shotgun.
While "Quake III Arena's" focus may be its multi-player deathmatch component, it does have a single-player mode. When playing alone, you can go up against artificial intelligence-controlled bots. The bots do their best to act like human players, and on the higher difficulty settings, they put up an excellent fight. The AI in this game is excellent, and therefore each bot has different characteristics that govern the way it fights. You'll move through several different competitive tiers, each with different arenas and bots. At the end of each tier is a one-on-one showdown; these fights take place in smaller, tournament-style arenas and also tend to be more challenging.
The bots are downright chatty. A bit of an annoyance in the game, they'll hold small conversations with each other, which are displayed in text onscreen. In team games, you can order bots around or even let a bot take control of your team and tell you what to do. Although this game is fun to play, it is not the only word in first-player shooters. This is because "Quake III" has a new rival that previously was ignored by hardcore gamers, "Unreal Tournament Edition."
To put it bluntly, "Unreal Tournament" is a blast! One might argue that there isn't much to the single-player game, but I'd beg to differ. In fact, the single-player game is so much like the multi-player that, aside from the largely acceptable lag, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference.
The bots are smart. They're fast. They make good use of their weapons and, perhaps most important of all, if they're on your team, they follow orders. That's right. Tell them to defend or attack and they'll do just that, and do it to the death! You really feel like you're part of one cohesive unit working toward a single goal. You can also adjust the intelligence of the bots to match your skill level and make the game as easy or difficult as you like.
Variety is the bread and butter of "Unreal Tournament." There are dozens of maps in different sizes, and several different types of game play. I love the assault mode, but it can be frustrating, especially the "overlord" map, which seems to heavily favor the defending team. In another assault map, the attacking team tries to blow up a huge Tyridium shard while the other team must defend it. When playing on the defending team, I found it hideously easy to defend once I snagged a sniper rifle from a downed attacker.
This version of the popular game "Unreal" blows the previous versions away! The number of modifications to the original game is too great to list, but this game certainly doesn't disappoint. The result is a game rich with built-in game play modifications like assault — my favorite — where two teams face off in a D-day like game where one team attacks the other's fortified defenses. After 10 minutes, the game restarts with the two teams flipping roles, and the hunter becomes the hunted.
The sounds are excellent, as is the music. The graphics are gorgeous, as you might expect. I would have liked to see more variety in the textures used in the levels, as a lot of them use drab textures and rely on colored lighting for color effects. But those are minor complaints. Guaranteed to be a big success in multi-player mode, this game is up and coming and giving a reason for Id Software to start quaking in its proverbial boots!
All Scene Stories for Tuesday, February 1, 2000