Once I get that upgrade to 36-hour days, I will tackle that. – Mychaeel


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My Thoughts on UT 2003[edit]

I am determined that this page isn't going to be a review. Rather, it's designed to be more of a bullet pointed assessment of the new game, claiming to be the next in line for the UT throne. Overall I would have to say that I’m reasonably impressed, but, and there is a but, it lacks an awful amount of polish.

These comments are based purely on the “single player against bots” experience. I haven’t ventured on-line with the game yet. I currently have no plans to either. My clan tag and name doesn’t fit into the space allowed for a start – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

What’s good about it[edit]

  • The game looks gorgeous. The environments are incredibly detailed, and on full detail settings at 1280 by 1024 bring my PC to it’s knees. So much so you can hear it pleading for mercy.
  • The opening movie is fantastic. A lot of love has been put into it and it shows. It’s tremendous.
  • The weapon balance is much improved over the original UT, and I find myself using a far wider variety of weapons in UT2003 than I did in UT. Even the new sniper rifle is great, once you get used to the extended loading time.
  • The single player game is a bit more interesting than in UT. Having a squad of players to choose from is quite nice. Being able to assign default orders to players is a particularly welcome feature.
  • The maps have loads of cool environmental sounds, and they do sound nice.

What’s bad about it[edit]

  • None of the maps are particularly inspiring. I can’t say that I’m particularly enamoured with any of the maps. It must be said that I haven’t figured out whether it’s simply the vast amount of extra detail in the levels or the way the levels have been built.
  • The manual that comes with the game sucks. It’s crap. It’s almost not worth the thin pieces of paper it’s written on.
  • The polish. There isn’t any. While the game is reasonable enough in it’s own right everything about the game screams out for another 3-6 months of tidying up. And to be honest this is the biggest disappointment about the game. It could have been so much more. Epic asked for feedback and then ignored pretty much all of the stuff they got bad.
  • The editor crashes for me when I attempt to export .u files. It’s a right bummer.
  • There’s no speech binder. Having to edit your user.ini file to assign messages to keys is a particularly poor interface.
  • No bot customisation – unless you feel up so some more ini hacking. One of the greatest things in UT was the ability to tweak the bot behaviour in terms of accuracy, alertness, etc. In UT2003 this feature has been toasted.
  • The game feels like a console port – and suffers because of it. Although the interface is slick, Uwindows was a vastly superior interface. I have a PC not a console dammit.
  • The maximum length for the player name is too short. I can’t get my clan tag and player name into it. How this one managed to creep in I’m not sure.
  • The ending. Considering the amount of effort that went into the awesome intro, the ending is completley unbelievable. I went back to it with all the details (projectors and stuff) turned on to see if it was any different. The ending is pap. No, it's worse than that. It defies belief and explanation. It really isn't worth the effort of playing through.

What needs the polish[edit]

  • User profile support is limited to the single player campaign. This means that when you share your PC you have to remember to change your player name and preferred keys. The profile feature has only been half-implemented.
  • In the single player game you get to choose a squad of players – which is good. However, there isn’t any way of training those players, or improving their stats (that I’ve found anyway), so you don’t really get that attached to them. Being able to play “training” matches would have been really good.
  • The HUD is particularly annoying. Messages from players on your team don’t always have the player’s location in. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Also, when the location is shown it’s buried in the message. It needs to be somewhere obvious – UT has this implemented perfectly. Also, your health and armour are not co-located. If you are carrying a weapon and don’t have it selected you can’t tell how much ammunition you have for it. I find myself scanning far more of the screen to get the information I want than I did in UT.
  • The command menu has taken a step backwards. Rather than allowing you to click on the options you want while you have the voice menu key down they’ve gone for a “tribes 2” press a million keys to give an order approach. While this does the job again I feel that the UT command menu was superior.

Mychaeel: Quite the opposite – the new voice menu is a huge improvement over the old one. (Of course those are only our respective opinions.) The old menu required you to cumbersomely point-and-click at options while the new menu allows you to quickly tap a key sequence without even having to look at the menu – that's by far more efficient.

Tarquin: I agree with Mych. I could naver use the old menu – press V, fumble with mouse, wrong menu pops up, get show in the back by Sexmachine. :( This new one seems better.

  • The font used for messages is nasty. It’s all capital letters and mono-spaced. The UT font looked nicer and was easier to read.
  • Some of the maps need tweaking. One particular map, BR-Skyline (if I remember the name right) kills my PC in certain positions. It feels like an Antiportal is to small somewhere. I’ll go from a happy 90-110 frames a second to around 4 (if I’m lucky). It’s horrible.
  • There’s still no option to disallow extra time in team games. A very useful feature in clan matches (is there a mutator to do it?).

Tarquin: The HUD doesn't put the key numbers for the weapons. This is annoying. This is what made Quake unplayable IMO – always thinking "damn, which weapon do I want?". Can we make custom HUDs to fix this?

EntropicLqd: I've been considering attempting to build a custom HUD to see whether it's all purely client side or not, and how much the cheat protection will allow you to get away with. I only ever use next weapon and previous weapon to select my weapons so the numbers don't actually help me much. I just remember the relative positions.

In summary[edit]

Although it seems like I’m being really harsh on the game, I’m not at all. The new game types are nice, although Double Domination is going to be really hard. The game is a good one. However, the overall lack of polish, and the lack-lustre map design prevents a good game from being truly great. Which is a shame.

Still, I guess it’ll all get fixed either by the community or, by Epic in a number of game patches. Either that, or Epic want UT2003 to fail (or be mediocre at best) so that Unreal Warfare becomes the de-facto standard rather than UT2003.

And I still can't make up my mind about the Adrenaline moves. It's a cute addition but really does unbalance BR and CTF games. DD doesn't suffer so much since it's so damn hard to score anyway.


DJPaul: I totally agree with all your points - well written.

EntropicLqd: Thanks. There's still loads of stuff I didn't cover - like the need for an announcer volume - but this isn't a "beat up on UT2003" comment. One of the CTF maps (the one with the fuel tanks) is actually really good but I'd hate to play it against real people - it's a little too small for that. Especially with the Speed adrenaline move. I'll keep updating this page with stuff I like (hopefully) and more irritations as I play it (hah - like I have time).

Aphex: ...and the translocator has been slaughtered!  :( Where's the shadow? Where's the tactile feel and the sound fx?

Highlander: I agree on most points, i REALLY miss the (zonetag) that was prefixed onto teamsay messages, however im one of those freaks who LIKED the tribes 2 chat system :P it was (imho) very well thought out and logical, however im none too fond of the ut2003 system numbers just dont do it for me. The all-caps for chat thing pisses me off to no end. Overall though its a really nice game, BR is quite the gametype... DD would strike me as very frustrating to play with good opponents. The Adrenaline moves I like in BR and CTF, Not sure about DM. Weapon balance seems fine to me. Not a big fan of the DM maps except Tokara (sp?) forest, and perhaps plunge which is a lot of fun with the x-loc on.




Tarquin: Urg! I can't shoot ANYTHING with the lightning gun. bam. wait wait wait wait wait wait wait bam! It could at least give a charge indicator. Flak – can't hit anything with this either. There's no splash damage!

Mychaeel: Well... it has a charge indicator. See the vertical bar on the right side (in zoomed view) that fills up as you wait?

EntropicLqd: Tarquin - I assume you play with weapons hidden then? If you don't, watch the main animation - it's a bit of a dead give-a-way. Failing that, listen for the very faint audio cue.

Tarquin: Darn. THat means I have to go and play it some more. ;)

ZxAnPhOrIaN: *Grunt* I have uh.. 3 problems with the translocator.

  1. When i destroy the translocator beacon, you can retrieve it back without killing yourself...
  2. When i shoot it, it won't blast far far away...
  3. The ammo amount, it only has, FIVE, charges, mise well not even use the translocator.

(Anyone up for a translocator fixing mutator?)

I have 1 good thing about the translocator

  1. The camera...

My other peeve about weapons are the flak cannon... The flak shell doesn't travel as far as the original flak cannon in UT.

So That's What's Wrong With It – I Quit[edit]


I have a cool idea for a map. I have all the details worked out in my head. This is going to be a good one. The theme is set in my head as wood, brick and metal - a la Gauntlet/Koos Galleaon. This will work, will look nice, and play better.
I've just been through all of the static meshes supplied with UT2003 (I'm no modeller or texture artist) and I'm screwed. Completely and utterly knackered. Unless I want a crappy tech. based level I've got nothing to work with. About the only levels that comes close to the effect I'm after is DM-Asbestos and DOM-Ruination, and they don't really give me the things I need.
The theming for UT2003 is just bollocks. There is no variety. I'm not suprised all the levels look the same and feel the same. My goldfish could come up with more imaginative environments than I have available.
And the other thing that really really irritates me is that a lot of the maps seem to have static meshes in that are not available as "static meshes". What are you supposed to do? Save the damn things as prefabs yourself?

Tarquin: static meshes in packs: we solved that problem: http://forums.beyondunreal.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=133020 We should really write it up on Mapping with Static Meshes. Lack of decent meshes: I have a cunning plan...

EntropicLqd: Thanks for the link Tarquin. A most interesting read. My conclusion is that Mychaeel has way to much time on his hands. Now that I've calmed down a bit (and I did a thorough analysis of DOM-Ruination) I'll have a play and see what happens. Ruination really is a very cleverly constructed map. There's very very few meshes used in the map, and the meshes that have been used have been cunningly stretched, rotated, and otherwise manipulated to look different. It's an impressive construction. It's a shame they never put any proper music to it. I'm not sure how they kept the texturing looking so sweet though.

Mychaeel: Eh, eh.  ;-) No, I just know that packages are packages are packages for the Unreal engine, regardless of what they contain.

EntropicLqd: I'm just jealous ;-). I just can't seem to find the time to reach the same standard of leetness at Unreal Engine stuff as I have done for the stuff I do on my day job. It's a bit irritating really because there's stuff I feel I should just know but have never put there in the first place so don't. As unfair as the comparison is, I feel I ought to be as good at UScript, something that I toy with for a couple of hours a week, as I am with the languages I work with for 8 (or more) hours a day. I guess if I concentrated purely on the code and left the mapping to those that can I'd stand more of a chance. There's just something appealing about making maps – not that I ever finish them. Maybe when I retire :)

Tarquin: I LIKE this page. So I'm unwiping it. Maybe we could rewrite it to be more general rather than one person's opinion.