SAN FRANCISCO (03/28/2000) - The final release of MacSoft's stellar Unreal Tournament lays to rest any concerns that Macworld acted precipitously in giving the then-unreleased shooter a place in the "1999 Macworld Game Hall of Fame." Unreal Tournament is quite simply the best networkable 3-D shooter on the market today.
The key word here is networkable-although Unreal Tournament offers solo action, the single-player game is largely intended as training for network play. The game has almost no plot; your job is to kill or be killed. Your opponents in the single-player game are "bots," who-unlike the mechanized beasts found in earlier 3-D shooters-behave more like humans than like scripted robots. If you fire on an enemy, expect that enemy to dodge and duck while seeking the most efficient means of scattering your virtual giblets from one end of the game to the other.
Naturally, Unreal Tournament offers Deathmatch play, where it's you against the world, but it also supports cooperative play in Capture the Flag and in Domination-a game where you and your team attempt to maintain control of checkpoints on a map. There's also Assault, where your team must defend or attack an installation.
This may sound like run-of-the-mill fare in a 3-D shooter, but what's extraordinary about Unreal Tournament is its level of refinement. If you've played the original Unreal, you can imagine how beautiful Tournament is. The game also boasts a wide variety of nicely balanced, intelligently designed maps. Special features include the ability to fly through a level before single-player battle begins, giving you an opportunity to case the joint before the firing starts; the option to be a spectator in team games; and the ability to configure the look as well as the behavior of individual bots-how alert they are, their favorite weapons, and their firing accuracy. You can even configure the game with special options called Mutators-these include low-gravity play; a mode in which all players are invisible; and Fatboy, which causes those players who perish routinely to get very skinny and those who have loads of kills to swell up, becoming easier targets.
Unreal Tournament isn't for everyone. Although you can turn down the gore and questionable language, the point of this game is to kill other virtual humans-male and female alike. If you oppose this sort of violence, steer clear.
Also, if you don't have a G3 or G4 and robust 3-DÐacceleration hardware, you'll be playing the game in a tiny window or with poor graphics.
Macworld's Buying Advice
If the violence and hardware requirements don't unsettle you, you'll find Unreal Tournament nothing but unwholesome, bloody fun.
RATING: 4.5 mice
PROS: Glorious graphics; varied game play.
CONS: Hearty hardware requirements.
COMPANY: MacSoft (800/229-2714, http://www.wizardworks.com/macsoft).
LIST PRICE: $50.