PC Unreal Tournament

(GT) £29.99

Up the arsenal: Unreal Tournament

And in the Red Corner . . . The Challenger

Since its release in 1997, Unreal has struggled hard to build a small but loyal fanbase. Not that it failed to sell far from it but the sheer power and presence of Quake and the subsequent genius of Half Life kept Unreal in the fringes. However, its glorious sweeping levels have yet to be usurped in first-person shooters, while the clever addition of a level editor allowed it to prosper on the Internet. And that is where its successor has set up its stall.

Unreal Tournament is a multiplayer-only shooter. You can play it solo, with the computer controlling your opponents (known as bots), but this is like making love in jump-suit. To get the full-on, hot-and-sweaty experience, an Internet connection is required. Do it and you won't be disappointed.

Depending on the level you're playing, anything up to a couple of dozen players from around the globe will strive to tear lumps out of each other. To say that the game moves quickly is a ridiculous understatement. Without a little knowledge and no small amount of skill, UT would be unplayable. Not only do you have to compete with foreign fast-fingered fighters, the levels often have no boundaries, resulting in frequent falling to your doom. This becomes very irritating after a while, as the task of keeping solid ground underfoot takes up too much of your precious concentration. The style of each map alters wildly some in castles, some in spaceships losing any feeling of continuity. The sooner the punters create maps the better.

What UT does excel in is its armoury. The range of weapons are fantastic, each having two modes of fire. The missile launcher, for example, can fire rockets, lob grenades or rack up projectiles, releasing them in a wide burst. As well as taking a little time to master, this variation promotes personal style, with each player developing their own combat skills.

Unreal Tournament is a cracking game, offering everything for the multiplayer frag-merchant. It still feels a little lightweight, but as a change to the overpopulated Quake servers, you'll do no better. (Iain Davidson)

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