The return of shit you don't care about

Been too damn busy to write any content that required any thought, time or energy on my part, but that ends... at least for now.

Thanks to some great discounts and rebates at EB, I found enough money to afford Ninja Gaiden for Xbox this week. Never has a game stirred up such hatred and enjoyment within me at the same time. If you're interested in a challenge not seen since the days of, well, Ninja Gaiden for NES, pick it up. I'll put a review up here once I get good enough to beat the game.

But for the past month, a good portion of my life has been occupied by the Unreal Tournament 2004 demo. I was a big fan of the original Unreal Tournament when it came out back in 1999. Released within a month of the equally-outstanding Quake III Arena, Unreal Tournament was one of those games that took the concept of deathmatch and online play to another level. It stood the test of time well enough to be popular up until the release of Unreal Tournament 2003.

Ah yes, Unreal Tournament 2003, the disappointment of the millennium. While mildly entertaining, UT2K3 lost virtually all of the feel, style, and inherent fun of the original UT99. The addition of the "boming run" mode was stupid and pointless, and the losses of both the sniper rifle and Assault mode pretty much closed the coffin. Add in the modified weapons that felt nothing like their UT99 counterparts and it made for one big mess.

The Unreal franchise took another blow with the release of Unreal II six months after Unreal Tournament 2003. Unreal II (which I picked as my most disappointing game of last year) was a disaster of Epic proportions (pardon the pun).

What a difference a year and a half makes.

Now I'm not sure if UT2K4 is what 2K3 was supposed to be, or if Epic realized the error of their ways in last year's game, but 2K4 is leaps and bounds beyond 2K3, all thanks to one key addition: Onlsaught mode.

What is Onlsaught? Take the feel and level design of UT99, add in vehicles and a BF1942-ish conquest mode, and throw in up to 32 players online, creating one of the most exciting and frantic online experiences you'll ever have with a PC game.

The objective is to control a series of connected power nodes on the map. You can only control a power node once you have taken over and powered up a previous node that connects to it. The first power node connects to your main base, the same goes for your enemy's base. The goal is to control some combination (or perhaps all) of the power nodes to take over that last node that connects to the enemy base. Once you have access to the base, you can attack their power core. Get the power core down to zero and your team wins.

Whew. A bit hard to explain, as you can see, but jump into the action and you'll end up getting it pretty quick with the help of my piss-poor instructions.

It will be interesting to see if the rest of the Onslaught maps (six in all) included in the final version of the game will be as exciting and even as the one included with the demo, ONS-Torlan. One cannot help but remember Wake Island from the Battlefield 1942 demo and how it ended up being the only map people wanted to play online even with the final product.

UT2K4 recently went gold and ships in two weeks. In the meantime, I'll be pancaking people in the Manta.

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2003 - 2005
Reverend Hughes