…Remember Unreal Tournament? Unreal Tournament is still a thing!
The 1999 classic Unreal Tournament was THE reason for having a LAN party or to upgrade to that sweet Voodoo 3 graphics card back in the day.
And back in that day? Unreal Tournament was Huge! When I was a kid, I had not heard of the first Unreal game, the one without the tournament part. But I saw unreal tournament at a friends house, and the insanely fast, blood soaked spastic action was mesmerizing to me at the time. Plus, it introduced the word “Frag” into our lexicon as kids.
And that brings me to the Unreal Tournament you can actually download and play for free right now off the Epic Games store. It is still in alpha, so bugs and glitches are around, but the classic chaos and craziness are all still there.
The graphics are not finished, so there’s really no point in judging it at all. They are more than solid enough to know what your doing though, and to be honest, the un-textured levels have a bit of old school charm that for me adds to the nostalgic mayhem.
The UI is still very much in its infancy, with the menus looking like a sketchy shareware program from years ago. But being in alpha, I can understand why this is very low on the priority list for the devs. It’s very forgivable considering the next part they got so right.
Spastic mayhem and fun. The gameplay, thankfully, is actually pretty tight for being in alpha. Everything seems to be responsive, the hit boxes are all on point, and even the balancing of weapons and powerups seems to be pretty good. Granted, they had a storied history of successful games to pull the formula from, but they did manage to execute a solid structured game.
The game modes are nothing new, and it’s missing quite a few still that previous games did have. The modes that are there make up the bread and butter for the series though, and should leave plenty of options for you and your friends to have fun destroying each other.
The game modes are:
- Capture The Flag
- Team Deathmatch
As fun as it is, game changing innovation is not going to be this games strong suit. It’s run and gun, blow each other up fun. If that’s all you want, and don’t expect much else, it’s always satisfying when you blow your friend to pieces to have the announcer declare them “Shredded”
…Story? I told you this game is about bloody, savage, mayhem. Who needs a story?
I suppose if you really need one, it’s something vague about a space competition battle-to-the-death. Think Space Jam, but with futuristic shotguns, rocket launchers and lizard people.
I’m going to be honest, this is a game for your favorite tunes and headphones. While the sound effects are all absolutely fine and add to the game, the music just doesn’t do the on-screen chaos justice. Mute the music, save the sound effects, throw on some of your favorite heavy metal or pounding techno and go to town, you won’t be missing out on much.
Interestingly, between matches you get a notice about how epic games is working with players alike to create this new Unreal Tournament. Since Unreal Tournament is being in part created by a community of volunteers, the game will be completely free when it is released. Epic Games stressed the point that it will be just free not free-to-play, meaning there will not be micro transaction (!) or gameplay-affecting items.
The New Unreal Tournament sounds fantastic! Now about that release thing…
Looking at the wiki though, it looks like not much has been updated since around 2014, when the alpha was first made public. And on their official website, the last blog post (and update to the game) was on June 28, 2017.
From digging through the forums, most commentators seem to point to Fortnite insane popularity taking most of epics focus and because one of the games was far more popular than the other… well… suffice it to say it seems Unreal Tournament is currently in a state of perpetual alpha. Going back to the wiki, the title itself says “Canceled video game”
According to Epic games CEO:
“‘Unreal Tournament’ remains available in the store but isn’t actively developed, We’ve recently worked with GOG on making classic Epic Games titles available and we’re planning to bring more of them to the store in their original glory.”Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeny
That being said, it’s free. Its fun. You can play with all your friends, even that one guy that never wants to buy a game. Get everyone together and frag each others faces off, for free!