Unreal Tournament vs. Quake ]I[ Arena

By Shamus
on Oct 30, 2007
Filed under:
Game Reviews

(This post is about eight year old deathmatch games, and I expect it’s a little esoteric even for this blog. I’m not saying if you should skip it or read it. Just… You know, fair warning. You might have better things to do with the next ten minutes. Proceed at your own risk.)

In 1999 there were two brands of deathmatch games: Unreal Tournament (Coke) and Quake 3 Arena. (Pepsi.) Few people partook of both flavors, and in fact there was something of a rivalry between the two. Lines were drawn, and people chose sides with partisan zealotry unheard of outside of religious wars. (Such as Mac vs. PC.) People loved their chosen game, loathed the opposition and all it stood for, and insulted one another in long, rambling forum threads where the ratio of uppercase / lowercase letters was about even.

Eventually those two games started to get a little old. It was time for the next generation. 2003 rolled in. The next UT title came out, and players found it had more in common with Q3A than UT. On the other hand, there wasn’t a next-gen sequel to Q3A. So what we have is a situation where Coke came out with a new formula that tasted just like Pepsi, and Pepsi responded by not making any more soda at all. UT fans were sad because their game was gone – it had come to look like the very game they had been denouncing for the last four years. Q3A fans were sad because their game was gone, and they weren’t about to convert and join the hated ranks of UT fans. (Not yet, anyway.) So pretty much everyone was unhappy.

I was one of the UT fans. I still am. I am unrepentant in this, although to be fair it’s not like the people at Epic Games came to my house in 2003 and erased my old copy of the original Unreal Tournament. (Usually referred to as UT99.) It’s eight years old, but I’ve still got it and I’m still playing. I played the subsequent 2003 and 2004 versions, but neither of them scratched my particular itch.

There are two major parts to a deathmatch game. One is dogfighting, deathmatching, dueling, or whatever you want to call it. You know: Shooting each other and so on. Dance around without getting hit, while delivering damage to your momentary foe. There are many different styles of play here. Some people constantly hop around as if they were some sort of gun-wielding maniac on a pogo stick, which looks stupid but is amazingly effective at making them hard to shoot. It’s like fighting Tigger’s murderous, coked-up doppleganger. Some players try to engage you at a distance with their superior aim. Some (me) try to get in close and beat you with their evasion skills. Dogfighting is a major part of the game, and some people even mistake it for the game in its entirety.

The other major aspect of gameplay – and the thing that most people overlook – is the strategy end of it. I’m not talking about picking the best weapon for use in a fight or remembering where the armor is, I’m talking about finding and forcing fights on your own terms.

Despite my long history with this sort of game and the high rankings I enjoyed in the UT99 heyday, I was only average (at best) when dogfighting. (And I’m a lot worse than that now.) I make up for my lack of reflexes and aim with a strong strategy game. The most common thing I hear from other players in a LAN game is “How are you always behind me?!?” Other players feel like I’m cheap-shotting them to death because half the time they never see me. They just suddenly die without warning. I make up for weak dogfighting by making sure I don’t have to do too much of it. I take note of audio clues, missing (taken) items, scortch marks, dead bodies, dropped weapons, and player habits. I gather up all of this data like some sort of high-speed detective and put it to malicious yet practical use.

“You see Watson, the lift on the far side of the room is moving back down to its default position, yet the door at the top is closed. Note also the spread of burn marks on the floor: All in a straight line, evenly spaced. Finally, one cannot miss that there are two medkits in the corner.”

“Yes, it was evidently quite a battle. Very confusing, Holmes!”

“Not so! The descending lift and closed upper door suggest that someone came in through the upper door and jumped down onto the lift, instead of riding the lift up to the door. If he’d been going the other way, the upper door would still be open! This means our quarry cannot be on the upper level. Furthermore, given the other clues in this room we can determine not only what happened here, but we can also discover who was killed and who did the killing!”

“Impossible! The body of the victim is destroyed, and the killer is gone, how can you know who was here?”

“Note the pattern of burn marks, Watson. A even line such as this is only possible with a full volley of rockets, aimed downward. Only our foe xXRoquetManXx is reckless enough to use such a technique, which means he was most likely the victor. We know the victim couldn’t have been Ownz0r, because we just got done ambushing him in the boiler room. Er, again. This means that our third adversary, Sn1pa, must have been the unfortunate victim here. So, here is what happened… xXRoquetManXx entered from the upper level and spied the other player below. Having already queued up the needed rockets, he aimed down and obliterated the unwary Sn1pa with the barrage, producing the burn pattern we observe. He then leapt down, touching off the lift as he landed. And finally, we can deduce that when he fled the scene he was unscathed, or else he would have helped himself to the nearby medpacks.”

“Amazing Holmes! But bugger all, it would be even more helpful if we knew where he went! There are three doors down here on the lower level. Which way did he go?”

“Even simpler to deduce! He certainly didn’t head for the boiler room, since that’s the way we just came in, if you remember, and we did not encounter him. It’s unlikely that he headed for the exhaust room, since that leads to some health and a rocket launcher, and we have already determined that he has both.”

“I get it now, he’s headed for the toxic waste pit through the third door. Brilliant! Let’s get after him!”

“Easy Watson. No sense in going that way. He’s had a good head start, and we’ll just end up ten steps behind him. He’ll be gathering up all the weapons and armor ahead of us, becoming stronger while we waste time fruitlessly trying to catch up with him. The toxic waste pit leads ’round into the boiler room eventually. So, if we double back now we should get there a few seconds before him. We have just enough time to reach the upper catwalk. He has us out-gunned with his rocket launcher I’m afraid, but we can insta-kill him with the Shock Rifle if we can take him by surprise. Let’s go!”

Shamus electrified xXRoquetManXx with the Shock Rifle.

xXRoquetManXx says: dammit shams how r u ALWAYS BEHIND ME??????

Everyone else is just cruising around, blasting other players as they come into view. They are moving from one dogfight to the next, while I’m constantly extrapolating where everyone else could be and where they might be headed. When I’m right, I end up behind them in a position to deliver a quick killing blow without needing to engage in too much gunplay. To other players, this sometimes feels like magic. I should add that I do most of this without thinking about it. My thought process isn’t nearly as clear as the conversation between Holmes and Watson above, and when someone demands that I explain how I knew they were coming it often takes me a while to figure out and articulate. Still, I get a deep satisfaction when I get that itch and realize someone is about to come through the door and I blow them up without ever seeing them. I’m sure this is the sort of thing that leads some people to mistakenly believe in psychics.

Major changes between UT99 and later versions:

  1. UT 2003 introduced a bunch of crazy new moves. You could double jump – like some sort of silly Mario game – and even do special cartwheel moves by jumping off from walls in mid-air. By combining these moves a skilled player could more or less cross a level without ever touching the floor. Aside from looking a little strange, it gave the game a learning curve like the Cliffs of Insanity. This YouTube video is a mild example of what can be done.
  2. The level design underwent a massive shift, abandoning the UT99 style of close-in, fast-paced maps of cat & mouse gameplay. Instead, the games featured sprawling open areas with little cover and almost no way to get close to your foe without being seen.
  3. The later games all featured weaker weapons with more kinetic force, so that a couple of guys having a rocket fight will end up bouncing around the room like ping pong balls instead of just exploding

They made all of the weapons much weaker, which made it very hard to insta-kill anyone, even if you had the drop on them. Sure, you could get a good, solid hit in, but then you’d have to dogfight to finish them off. The crazy jumping made dogfighting faster and more complex, giving the edge to quicker players with better aim. The open areas meant that even if you’re a strategist and you know where your foe is headed, that knowledge won’t do you any good because you won’t be able to get ahead of him or sneak up on him. All of this shifted the balance of power away from me, and deprived me of my “hard-won” rewards for my detective work. Between the leaping aerial stunt combat, the open battle areas, and the weaker weapons, the elements of the game that I held dear were eliminated in favor lots of distance fighting and bouncing around. The game became both ridiculous and unrewarding for me.

I realize that hating a game just because it favors other play styles over my own is a bit selfish, but Unreal Tournament is the only game left in the genre. Everyone wants it to suit their particular tastes, because they have nowhere else to go. Some players – the dogfighters – obviously hate getting killed for no discernable reason, and so they like the nerf guns and Mario-jumping. They’re trying to play rugby and I’m trying to play hide-and-seek.

I see over at Augary that the latest incarnation of UT, oddly named “Unreal Tournament 3”, is now in beta. Epic Games has been talking about going back to the UT99 style gameplay, which caught my attention. Their userbase now has a good supply of Q3A exiles. They now have both types of players in line to buy their game, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to make both groups happy. One or other other is going to walk away mad. If the UT99 fans come back and find yet another rehash of the 2003 gameplay, they will feel lied to. If the Q3A types find the game has greatly changed, they will feel betrayed. If Epic tries to split the difference they could end up alienating both groups.

This should be interesting. Cineris, who I believe is a fellow fan of the UT99 gameplay, seems to be enamored of it. I’ll have to try it for myself.

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202020426 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. Cineris says:

    From what I’ve seen in the (beta) demo so far, it is definitely the best Unreal Tournament game yet. The majority of the game is directly drawn from the original UT but the few good innovations in the later games have made it over as well. There are some rough edges, but my biggest complaint by far is not having enough time to play it.

  2. Shandrunn says:

    Great post Shamus, but I think you have the Coke/Pepsi analog exactly the wrong way around. Quake is the Coke here, the early innovator that popularized the product. That makes Unreal the Pepsi, the hip newcomer eager to knock the old guard down.

    Of course, the analogy only works for the situation 8 years ago. Now those two have lost ground, especially Quake, and Half-Life and all of its bastard offspring (CS, TF2…) are dominating all. Wonder what that makes Half-Life. Mountain Dew?

  3. mike says:

    Hey Shamus, that original post on the door sound-rocket hit was one of the first posts of yours I read, and I loved it. Nice that you’re re-visiting it.

    Just as (if not more) impressive in multiplayer games is when you pull off a “door sound, rocket hit” without any cues, but with subconscious timing. In an MMO game I saw my opponent on a different level heading in a door; I went through a shortcut and waited at an ambush spot for around 10 seconds, and without really thinking about it, just KNEW when he was about to show up. And even more devastating was that my attack was a timed one – it had a 3-4 second charge time.

    So not only does the guy pop through a door into a fiery blast, but it’s one that he knows I had to start charging before he was even close to the other side. It blew his mind. For the rest of the game he tried to avoid me and my “magical” foresight capabilities.

  4. Phlux says:

    Clearly, Shamus you are mistaken.

    Q3A is Coke, and UT99 is Pepsi. This of course is based on my preference for Coke over Pepsi and Q3A over UT99.

    In all seriousness, though, I think I’m ready for a UT99 style game now. When I was in highschool and my early college years, Q3A was what my friends and I all played at LANs, tournaments, the dorms, etc…

    After Q3A came Tribes 2, which really changed me from a deathmatch player into a team-objective player. I understand the UT series has more gametypes in this vein, which I find appealing. I find few things more satisfying than holing up in the enemy base’s generator room with turrets and a med station, single-handedly (or perhaps with a friend) keeping their power offline until a flag can be captured, or an objective destroyed.

    Those are the games that really scratch my itch these days, and if UT is going to offter gametypes that reward a “each player does his job” strategy, I’m all for switching.

  5. Corsair says:

    CS is probably some kind of Cherry Coke. Lots of tight spaces, easy to get a one shot kill. HL2 Deathmatch is closer to Quake 3 Arena. Then you’ve got the really weird ones that I guess are analogous to Mr. Pibb and stuff.

    I wonder what Jolt is.

  6. Mordaedil says:

    Why on Earth are you guys arguing whether toilet water or mud tastes better? Cripes, it was an analogy, not a comparison. UT2k4 isn’t related to Coke, more than Pepsi. It’s just a established that they are competing for “favored” tasters around the world and some people are buying into it, selecting their favored brands.

    All in all however, they just destroy your tastebuds all the same (Halo 3).

    Anyway, I find myself often doing the same tactical analysis to the field, even though I tend to say “If I do this, it’s more of an even fight, if he’s not stupid.”

  7. Dev Null says:

    I expect it’s a little esoteric even for this blog

    Says the guy who just hosted a day-long symposium on the physics of Portal…

    I’m sure this is the sort of thing that leads some people to mistakenly believe in psychics.

    I read that last word as _physics_. I liked it better that way.

  8. Will says:

    Phlux, you should see if you can find XMP for Unreal 2. As far as I’m concerned, it’s what UT’s Onslaught gametype should have been. Of course, there may not even be servers up for the game any more.

  9. Stark says:

    Hmmm… your style of play is exactly mine as well…and the reason UT2003 turned me off as well too. Of course I found a replacement in the Call Of Duty series – Sepcifcally COD2 for the best experience for me. The maps, when not over populated, allowed for tactical thought and sneak work and still allowed the dogfighters to get their fun in as well. Nothing is better than virtually knifing a guy who never even saw you coming after a long and frustrating day at the office. I also heard the cry of “How are you always behind me?” and “How did you know I’d be coming through that door/in that tower/behind that hedge/etc.”

    Alas, I got too good at COD2 and it lost it’s luster for me. When you can guarantee at least a 4 to 1 and often a 7 or 8 to 1 kill ratio it just isn’t fun anymore… no challenge. I have yet to find a suitable replacement – maybe UT 3 will fill the bill!

  10. GreyDuck says:

    I had to give up playing UT99 due to DirectX conflicts, which is a shame because while UT2k4 is “prettier” it’s nowhere near as much fun for me to play.

    I may have to revisit this situation and see if I can’t resurrect that beast.

  11. Bogan the Mighty says:

    All I have to say Shamus is two words for UT…Sniper Rifle. Mwhahaha! Oh yeah and that it sucks something awful in the rest of them.

  12. mark says:

    jolt is UT with instagib shock rifles or lightning guns

  13. Bogan the Mighty says:

    Oh yeah and I think I’ll go ahead and plug one of my preffered fps with you yet again. Battlefield 2 is where I get all tactical and leave people wondering how I killed them. You still need to try that game even if its starting to die off now and is really just online only. Single player is just plain awful.

  14. Will says:

    Ooooh… Look what I found. I really should try to keep up. I can see I’ll be busy getting UT2004 up to snuff tonight and then installing this total conversion.

  15. Taelus says:

    Admittedly (though it might get me banned) I was one of the Quake kids when this all hit the ground running. I didn’t necessarily mind UT but I found I was much better at hit and run than strategy.

    My mode of gameplay was to figure out how players attack once they’ve engaged, then pick a fight and run away. Most of it was about knowing the timing they’d use to come around a corner and ambushing them as they did. If that didn’t kill them, I ran again, rinsed, and repeated. It was both immensely useful and aggravating all at once. I was able to kill a good number before dying most times, but the pattern became boring as time went on. People never seemed to figure out what I was up to, so I never had to adapt and so my playing never improved or changed, making the game somewhat less fun.

    Anyway, the new one will probably grab my attention for a bit, but if I end up being “that guy around the corner” again, it will not likely be long-lived.

  16. Duffy says:

    I preferred the original UT over Q3’s “speed is better” mentality. However, my personal favorite all time death match is still Q2-CTF, which UT plays like a bit. As for the new versions of UT I don’t care for them. I tried out the UT3 beta and while they did tone down the more off the wall stuff and fixed some of the weapons, they appear to once more have cranked the speed factor. So the only way worth playing is to run at top speed firing at any blur of motion you see, which is not really fun to me.

  17. Taelus says:

    Oh yeah, and Shamus, I hated the guys like you because I was also nearly worthless in a dogfight but your type never gave chase, leading me to abandon my tactic against them and move on, often into the trap they’d set behind me.

    So, in case it isn’t clear…I hate you :-P

  18. Pederson says:

    I used to play UT in college. Never really got grabbed as hard by UT2k4 (skipped 2k3).

    However, Tribes 2 is the game I long for in the dead of the night. I think it’s really a shame that Tribes: Vengeance just didn’t have the same feel to it. Possibly because, despite the far better graphics, the maps weren’t half as big. Instead, it always felt like a Tribes mod bolted on to UT2k3/4.

  19. Shamus says:

    Taelus: I was juuuuust about to post and say I never chase people, but you came back too quick. Yes, once I’ve engaged someone I try to draw them in. If they pull back and don’t bite, I just keep moving. If I give chase I’ll just eat a rocket. That’s no way to live.

    I LOVED capture the flag, but I HATED running down the flag guy once he saw me because I wasn’t able to use any of my tricks. I just ran from one ambush into the next until I was dead, hoping I’d slow him down enough for a more talented teammate to give him a proper beating.

    Was bad for my ego, I tell ya.

  20. Lebkin says:

    “I LOVED capture the flag, but I HATED running down the flag guy once he saw me because I wasn’t able to use any of my tricks.”

    I loved capture the flag because I WAS that flag guy trying to avoid the strategic hunter. I’m not good in a straight up fight, and not much for good ambushes either. What I have is a great memory for spaces (probably why I’m an architect). A couple runs through a map, and I’ve got a route to and from the flag that hopefully won’t get me killed. My favorite trick was develop a looping path that went counter the normal flow. Let me shoot enemies in the back. And if I died, which one often does when running the flag, there was occasionally an ally to pick up my dropped flag. I died enough with the flag nearly back, that my teammates labeled my method “How to Greatly Help the Team Without Scoring any Points.”

  21. Hal says:

    Ah, I played my copy of UT2004 for quite a while. The single-player “campaign” was brutal towards the end, even on the easiest difficulties. I’m not terrible in a dog-fight, but those bots were just insane.

    I was always more of a strategy man myself, but that led me away from the deathmatch modes in UT2004. I always liked the base defense maps, or the specific scenarios where one team assaulted an objective while the other defended. Yes, Halo 3 has similar game types but they’re no where near as good.

    I think a lot of what determined your ability to “insta-kill” other players in UT2004 was comfort with the weapons. Many of them had secondary firing modes that were pretty lethal if you knew how to use them properly.

    Too bad I didn’t get to play a lot online. I’ve rarely ever had decent net connections, so online games like that have always been just beyond my grasp.

  22. nilus says:

    UT99 Was a favorite at our Lan Parties(to people still have LAN parties) for years. I have a lot of fond memories of staying up until the sun came up playing UT in my buddies basement. We’d cram in 8 guys with there 1999 era PCs(no laptops, no flat screen monitors, no mini cases).

    His Parents have not so found memories of being waken up all night to the sounds of “Head Shot” over and over, but thats there problem :)

  23. Shamus says:

    Lebkin: As Tealus has hated me, so now must I hate you. :)

  24. Shamus says:

    Hal: The final battle vs. Malcom was an outrage. You know how the bots have that 1-10 rating, with 1 being “Novice” and 10 being “godlike”.

    When he kills you, his rating drops by 1.0. When you kill HIM, he goes up by 1.2. In a game to 20, it’s pretty much inevitable you’ll end up fighting a godlike bot, which is just brutal for even a skilled player.

    Getting beaten by him was frustrating, and beating him wasn’t very satisfying. Despite his perfect aim and inhuman reflexes, he was still as dumb as a parking meter and would fall for the same lame trick over and over.

    Grumblegrumble.

  25. Cineris says:

    The most annoying bit with the bots in UT2004 for me is that they obviously cheated. Cheated as in, dodging as soon as you shot a weapon at them, regardless of if they had just dodged. Cheating as in, pulling off a string of 4 wall dodges before unloading rockets on your head, even though players can only do 1 wall dodge.

    The bots themselves were easy to outstrategize (Toss crap around corners and wait for them to impale themselves on it), but that’s a lot harder of an issue to deal with. Not reacting to things they don’t see is how they’re supposed to act, but the thing is they’re predictable in their movements and won’t learn from past mistakes that you’re probably waiting around the corner with a full load of Bio ready for them.

  26. Jadawin says:

    I too am a UT99 fan, and I’ll have to say that TF2, while not the same, has scratched my itch for a MP FPS as nothing else has since UT99 (although BF1942 came close for a while).

  27. Phlux says:

    Jadawin: I agree that TF2 is taking care of my long-neglected multiplayer needs. I haven’t played multiplayer games for at least a couple of years. My of my friends got lame and stopped gaming, or the ones that still do now live too far away from me to do LANs.

    TF2 is doing it for me in a way no game has since Tribes 2. My single greatest hope, as well as my single biggest fear, is that they will make a Tribes MMO based on team FPS combat.

    Anybody remember Planetside? It was a bold attempt at an MMO based on FPS gameplay. It was very tribes-like in design. You had light, medium and heavy infantry. vehicles, bases, etc… The game was based around a non-stop war between three factions battling constantly for territory.

    You picked a faction and would travel to battlepoints on the map. If one side emerged victorious, they would control that territory until the other factions fought back and reclaimed it.

    The concept was brilliant. Massive game world, persistent stats, character customization, weapons, missions, territory control…but the implementation was awful. The basic gameplay fell far short of the concept and nobody to my knowledge has tried since, at least not in a sci-fi context.

    If they did this with Tribes, I think I’d have to quit my job and apply to be a GM or something.

  28. fefe says:

    To be honest it’s quite some time ago that I last tried coke(ut99). When both games came out I was about 14. Not much of an age. I loved BOTH but in the end I got stuck with Q3A because of the trickjumping possibilities which were not in UT99. I didn’t like any of its sequels either. The only thing I really got to add is that for ‘above-average’ players there is lots of strategy for q3a, seperating them from the average mario dogfight players. Anyway I’m done with frag games you can’t really expect future titles to be up to the quality of these two games.

  29. The Defenestrator says:

    I would say that Quake is Coke, both because it’s the slightly more well-known brand, and also because the names kinda sound the same. Quake Coke Quake Coke Quake Coke.

    I try to be a strategic player like Shamus, but since I don’t play any single game long enough, I can’t pick up on the subtle clues as well. I had some success once in Counter-Strike Source using the most basic ambush tactics imaginable. In Team Fortress 2, my usual play style is “paranoid engineer who shoots everyone with the shotgun in case they’re a spy.”

  30. Mark says:

    I’d *like* to get involved in really tactical first-person shooters, but it’s all just too fast for me. It’s clear you and I are like-minded: one of the most sublime pleasures games have to offer is the opportunity to feel like you’re Sun Tzu. I can invent tactics that employ things like firing the rocket right before they open the door. I could calculate exactly the right moment to shoot the thing, but by that time they’d have already shot me to death with a nerf gun. Or if I were prepared for the timing, I’d shoot it and somehow I’d discover I had missed them by half a screen. Just don’t have the coordination for it, y’know?

  31. Saborlas says:

    Some guys had some fun with the Q3A GPL recently, and have released a version called Open Arena. They took out all the copyrighted art (sounds, models, music, maps, textures… the works) and replaced it with new stuff (except conversions of previously GPL’ed maps). They’ve got it running on all 3 major operating systems, and the new art is sharper than ever (they doubled all previous technical limits).

    Give it a whirl (it’s not like it costs anything). I expect a few here might be annoying the hell out of me online soon enough.

  32. Lebkin says:

    Shamus: Being hated means I’m doing my job.

  33. Gerg says:

    This takes me back to the Sega Dreamcast days- we had both of these games and eventually adapted my hands to the awful Dreamcast controller to rule over my roommates until someone finally bought a PS2.

    Good times.

    –G

  34. rou says:

    Hello there. Old skool Ut99 player here. Mostly CTF. Played some 2k4 too but just to pass the time until a better game came along. UT3 is that game. If the gameplay is anything like the demo, I’m hooked. Not a big fan o the emphasis on vehicles, but most of the DM and CTF maps won’t have them anyway.

    I love it. Lots of the UT feel. More aggressive and attack oriented. I used to play UT about 25-30 hours a week. When 2k4 came out, I barely did 6 hours a week. With the new demo, I’ve got the addiction again.

    Anyway, I hope yuou enjoy it as much as I do. UT3 rocks!

  35. Zaghadka says:

    If you still play, check out the Assault Bonus Pack.

    (Google “Assaultbonuspack418”)

  36. Taelus says:

    Ok, just have to ask, am I the only one who sometimes finds themselves lost in the acronyms? I can follow things like UT and Q3A, but then it starts into GPL, CTF, and DM and I can’t help but fill in the gaps by guess. However, I’m pretty sure GAP Poll Liner, Country Turkey Fry, and Dungeon Master (yeah I know, like anyone didn’t see that coming) aren’t exactly the intended themes…

    Oh well, my versions might be more fun anyway :-)

  37. Rhykker says:

    Sorry Shamus, I haven’t read the other comments, so forgive any redundancy.

    Firstly; great entry. I remember the UT99 v Q3A war. We won it, Shamus. Q3A was a fine game, but it could not compete with UT99. The accolades UT99 received reverberate down the annals of gaming history to this day.

    I’ve been waiting for you to mention UT3 ever since the beta demo was released.

    You really should try out UT3; I wasn’t crazy about the 2k series (referred to as UT2), but I’m loving UT3. It brings back the old school gameplay – no more floaty-air silliness. This has angered some of the UT2 crowd, who are pulling a great hissy fit as they proclaim that EPIC destroyed UT.

    I’m really excited about UT3 – I haven’t felt this way in years.

  38. Ithika says:

    Curiously, it was exactly that wide-open-spaces that I didn’t like about UT. It always seemed far sillier than Q3A, with zero-gravity space maps and stuff like that. So I have the same gameplay preference as you but ascribed the different styles to the opposite game.

  39. Viktor says:

    I am a rabid flag-runner. I go with shotguns, and am one of the few who is actually willing to run from a fight when I’m not losing, so I can get into and out of bases with the flag pretty well. I always lose in deathmatch, though, because I don’t have the reflexes to dogfight or pull off split-second strategies like you described.

  40. fefe says:

    I’d really not say that anybody won any ‘war’, Rhykker. And Q3A influenced many games and was used as a reference for a long time. I saw UT99’s fanbase disappearing when the new UT’s came out while Q4 didn’t really make a big influence on the Q3A community. It’s weird.

  41. Downtym says:

    2 words:

    Starsiege: Tribes

    SHAZBOT!

  42. wererogue says:

    I *always* loved playing 1ps games in the “strategy” style you described. The first time you play a map you suck for a while, and then as you begin to get a feel for the flow of it, you start turning up where people aren’t expecting it, or when they’re already concentrating on someone else…
    Recently (last year) I tried out “The Ship” (the release version on Steam, although I believe the HL2 mod is still available) and was hooked – it’s a game entirely composed of the strategy/hunting, with minimal “dogfighting” (or “repeated circle strafing”…)
    In case you haven’t heard of it, the gameplay goes like this:

    1. You are on a ship
    2. There are a set number of rounds and/or a target amount of cash
    3. Each round, you have a “target” – one of the other players, who you should kill for monetary reward.
    4. Your reward is proportional to how much the weapon/method you use to kill the target has been used recently.
    5. You are somebody’s target. You may kill your “hunter” without penalty.
    6. Once someone has killed their target, there is a set amount of time before the round ends and new targets are allocated, in which you may still kill your target.
    7. There are various environmental hazards including guards and security cameras (which will cause you to pay a fine and spend time in the brig if you’re caught with a weapon or otherwise breaking ship rules).
    8. *Killing “innocents” will cost you money.
    9. If you die, you come back as another passenger and will get new goals next round.
    10. There is a pointer on the map to your quarry which is periodically updated (~20s or whenever you see them). If you have already talked to your quarry you have a picture of how they looked last time you saw them. You can change your clothes when you find new ones.
    11. You have a set of “needs” which must be managed, like hunger. Some cause inconvenience (getting too tired may cause you to fall asleep in the hall) while others, such as thirst, can cause death.

    There’s a bit more to it than that, although that gives you the gist. It’s incredibly fun, and lends itself perfectly to the “how did you get behind me” style of playing, as well as other tactics like faking “innocents” out so that they think you’re their hunter and draw a weapon to defend themself – in a secure area.

  43. Bruce says:

    I prefer the old Unreal version (the one with the Enforcer as your starting weapon). Despite the Flak Cannon with alternate fire being the best weapon (IMO), every weapon had it’s own unique uses. Even a headshot with the enforcer could get you an instant kill. Decapitating a foe by ricoceting shirikens round corners with the Razor was the best (not to mention yourself if you got the angle wrong). Picking up the damage booster and steering the nuke into the middle of the space station (ULTRAKILL!). With Quake there just didn’t seem to be the variety of gameplay styles (more dash than stalk) or weapon options.

  44. bubba0077 says:

    I was a big Q3A guy for the first three years it was out back in my undergrad days. I tried UT, but could never get into it . (To be fair, Q3A was the *only* FPS I ever managed to get into. Right place, right time I guess.) My favorite mod for Q3A was freeze tag, which I played exclusively and is still one of my most favorite games ever.

  45. Zanfib says:

    I’m supprised that noone has mentiond Enemy Territory here, it favors all styles well and has some of the best coop play I’ve ever seen. Best of all, it’s free.

  46. Shapeshifter says:

    Serious Sam is Mt. Dew.

    Jolt is one of those mods where they make the rocket launcher fire 400 rounds a minute, the machine gun insta-kills, and the BFG kills everyone with line of sight to the impact point (including the user)–but on the mod’s website they put up something like “Despite the extreme power of the weapons and the fun of using them, the game remains balanced for competitive play and fills a huge gap in the FPS marketplace.”

    Right. Whatever you say, crazy Jolt people.

    Anyway, i was a QWer and a TFer. QW is sort of like the deathmatch of Q3 with the strategic elements of UT. (Just three times as fast.) I still remember one tournament match where one of the players lost sight of his opponent for like 10-15 seconds, but was still mentally tracking him. Then he fired a single rocket and, a second later, the guy popped out from behind a corner and right into the incoming rocket.

    In the q3 vs. ut wars, though, i was a CPM(a)er. Which is much the same thing as QW.

    I think TF2 is promising. I really want to try it…

  47. Dihydrogen says:

    I too was a an avid UT99 player. One of the underlying reasons being my brother had a copy of UT99 and not quake. However, when UT2k4 came out I actually found it quite fun with VCTF, but even with UT99 I was a team oriented player.
    Also, in response to Saborlas you should try (shameless plug) Nexuiz http://alientrap.org/nexuiz/ instead as it has a much more polished feeling for still being a free game and is very similar.

  48. Dihydrogen says:

    I too was a an avid UT99 player. One of the underlying reasons being my brother had a copy of UT99 and not quake. However, when UT2k4 came out I actually found it quite fun with VCTF, but even with UT99 I was a team oriented player.
    Also, in response to Saborlas you should try (shameless plug) Nexuiz http://alientrap.org/nexuiz/ instead as it has a much more polished feeling for still being a free game and is very similar. I came across it during one of my escapades into Linux, as it is cross-platform as well.

  49. hank says:

    Dammit Shamus you are revealing the secrets that got me called a bot all those years.

  50. tussock says:

    Newbies. Classic Quake is twitch gaming at it’s best. I could gib campers with the rocket so quick the people watching *my screen* never even saw them. Nothing flows like a good run of frags in Quake.

    I remember guys like Shamus playing, one has to fake them into your sights, not too hard, though having to think like that kinda spoils the flow.

    Slow motion bouncing around in Q3A wasn’t too bad, for a laugh, but the newer games seem to miss the point a bit. Designing for 200ms+ pings just ruins it I guess.

  51. Morte says:

    Count me in the UT camp, it was so much more of a complete game than Q3 and the introduction of the Assault maps was a revelation. Q3 was far too frantic (although many years on with age and drink dulled senses and reactions the ‘franticness’ of TF2 is what I enjoy about it). I always thought it was unfortunate in the next iterations of the UT franchise they decided to go down the Q3 route.

    Oh and there was no finer LAN gaming sessions than the original UT (which still comes out at LAN meets), the Hall of Giants CTF map and the Bad News Mod (which adds bigger and bigger monsters into the mix the better the players scores).

  52. Brandon says:

    I am a UT99 player and fan. Not as much for the more recent stuff. I was never very good, but I enjoyed it anyway. I have poor aim, poor strategy, and I don’t bunny-hop like mad so I’m easy to hit. But there was just something about the game. I hated Q3’s focus on pits and jump pads and such. Obnoxious as hell. As of the later map packs and updates, I was also the meanest Nali War Cow around.

  53. Martin says:

    Unreal was pretty, Quake3 was brutal and non-stop intensity.

    iD software always had that ‘feel’ to them that other shooters have never matched. I still fire up Q3 and play some bots on nightmare mode, it definitely gets your reflexes back in order

    ID for the win.

  54. Dihydrogen says:

    Argh I just realized I double posted.

  55. Coke (Q3) FTW! Rail guns, bouncy pads and infinite void made for a great intra-office stress reliver at the end of a work day :)

  56. Steve C says:

    A few years ago I used to play America’s Army. It definitely favored strategy over dogfighting and was a free download. As an extra element, players get hurt and move slower. Only problem was that there were lots of people who cheated… and not “you are better than me so you cheated” kind of cheating, like real hacks. You might find it worth a try.

  57. Slander says:

    Hey Shamus,
    It’s nice to know that others feel a sense of longing and nostalgia for games. I miss quake3 and its community a great deal. For me, q3 was the purest of tests; either you had the brains and reflexes, or you didn’t. It was totally twitch and totally worth it. Nothing like railing someone from across the map while spamming macros and then bragging in IRC.

    I never liked the physics in UT, or, frankly, the graphics. It never had the same level of visceral fun that q3 did. I keep trying out demos and games in the hopes that something will recapture the magic I felt in q3, but it has been a disappointing 8 years so far…

  58. Lo'oris says:

    great post, I really liked it.

    why didn’t you like Quake2? maps were usually without much open space areas, and there were several weapons which could be properly used to instant kill…

  59. Baibbas says:

    Umm..hello? UT was first, Quake 3 was second….UT is Coke..Quake 3 is Cragmont cola..it plain SUCKED.

  60. […] In other words, dammit shams how r u ALWAYS ON MAH SERVAR?????? […]

  61. Octal says:

    The Youtube link is dead now: “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party.” WTF? I assume it was just someone’s video of them doing stuff in the game… why would that get taken down?

  62. Goatcathead says:

    now it’s really the same thing with Call of duty and halo

  63. […] Neil Foster SovereignIndependent.com 29th June […]

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  1. By Alex’s Blog » Wavatars updated on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 1:10 am

    […] In other words, dammit shams how r u ALWAYS ON MAH SERVAR?????? […]

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