Wow. I didn’t know that.
When the new UT2003 came out I grabbed it right away. I’d been a hardcore fan of the original. When I played UT2003 I was crushed. It wasn’t the same game at all. This wasn’t just fanboy nitpicking. This wasn’t just a reluctance to embrace a little change. This was more or less a whole different game.
There were two main games for online deathmatch: Quake and UT. One was not better than the other. They enjoyed a little Mac Vs. PC-style rivalry, but neither one truly dominated the market or eclipsed the other. They were just two very different games. So it was a real shock then UT2003 came out and I found it was more or less Quake. What the heck?
Cinneris mentions the double-jump as a major fan irritant. It is a bit too Mario for the world of deathmatch. But my main gripes are multitude, and lie elsewhere.
- In UT, the default weapon (the weapon you start with as you appear in the game) had some punch to it. In Quake, the starting weapon is a “machine gun” that might – if the target sits still – be able to eventually tickle someone to death.
- In UT, levels were tighter and running speeds were lower. Characters were proportioned more or less like normal people. In Quake, levels can be large and open, everyone runs at high speeds, and characters are kind of squat and bulky.
- In UT, weapons and items look like physical items laying around the level. In Quake, they are more iconic: Weapons hover and spin like floating powerups in a Mario game.
- Quake comparatively less damage. Weapons felt weaker, particularly the lower-level weapons. Individual projectiles did less damage, but weapons shot faster so there was more stuff flying around. This is sometimes called having “spammy” weapons, because it proliferates the number of projectiles flying around the world. Players end up just hosing everything down. In UT, the weapons were more uniform, and the gap between the best weapons and the worst weapons was much narrower. Weapons also had a lot more puch.
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In all of these ways, UT2003 made itself more like Quake and less like its own predecessor. Take note that I am not knocking Quake. It is a very popular game and has many avid fans, but it is a different game. We now have two games that are more or less the same, the Quake franchise and the UT200x games.
(Many of these changes tilt the game on favor of the better player. In a match with only a few participants, killing someone causes them to respawn in a random location with the starting weapon. If the starting weapon is weak, they will be very vulnerable to being killed again. If there is a big gap between the best guns and the worst ones, then the player who was most recently killed has even more of an uphill battle trying to get back into the game. The result is that the loser keeps losing. In my own opinion, the Quake game is better for the hardcore public deathmatch, or a tournament, but UT seems a little more suited to a pick-up game between friends.)
This move doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint. The fact that so many people would rather play the seven-year-old original instead of moving to the one with the fancy pixels shows that the original has deep, lasting appeal. If these people were just being picky, they would have caved in and moved to the new game years ago. Making the upcoming UT2007 more like the original would entice all of the die-hards to put down the old game and give the new one a try. To wit: Epic could probably sell more games that way.
So this isn’t about money. I can only conclude the guys at Epic just like the Quake-style gameplay better.
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