Have You Played… Unreal Tournament?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I like to argue about how Quake 3 is better, because I’m an early-’00s scamp, but the truth is that I love Unreal Tournament, too. Particulary its sniper rifle, particularly Facing Worlds.

I spent my fair share of time playing UT against human beings, leaping about DM_Morpheus and attempting to second-guess my floaty opponents, but that’s not my preferred way to play UT. If I want competition against human beings, I still play Quake. Unreal Tournament was a weekend morning mess-around game, though.

Load up Facing Worlds with bots, grab a sniper rifle, and sit atop your own team’s tower with your sights trained at the enemy’s mid-tower teleporter. Wait for a bot to spawn and, blam, blow its head off. They exit the portal in the same way at the same speed every time, so you can just do this all day long, racking up the m-m-m-monster kills.

It’s cheap, but as a teenager I had a lot of fun doing this and other related one-sided bot slaughter. I was particularly fond of a custom mutator that let you ride the Redeemer rocket. Think not Strangelove but a surfboard, as you steered it around the level and detonated it outside the enemy’s front door. I’ve yet to play the modern Unreal Tournament namesake, but I won’t be happy until it lets me do dumb easy crap to dumb easy bots.


  1. Uglycat says:

    UT > Q3

    • Jac says:

      On opposite day.

    • Matfink says:

      Indeed [MPD]catteh :D

      To me, the feel of UT hasn’t been matched by anything so far, though the new free version comes close.

    • G-Lord says:

      My opinion back in the day, but now I think Q3 holds up better, especially as a pure DM game.

      • Cleave says:

        Yeah, I always thought Q3 had a better feel but CTF was my poison and I love Unreal’s weapons.

  2. Eraysor says:

    Still the greatest game of all time in my opinion. Graphics were amazing at the time, the music and sound are perfect and the gameplay can’t be beaten.

    For me, Titanfall 2 is the only FPS that has come close to having as good an MP mode as this game.

    • corinoco says:

      I used to play this with a bunch of friends at our own little LAN parties (“GamezDaze” as we called them) a lot in the late 90’s / early 00’s. Facing Worlds was great, but also the ‘ship flying through space’ one, the ‘oil platform’ one, and the ‘concrete warehouse’ one, and the low-grav ‘space platforms’ one. They were all great. We also played with downloaded levels with our favorites being the ‘giant’ levels – the Giant Bathroom, Giant Bedroom, Giant Living Room – running around like you were ants. Nothing better than flying a Redeemer into the local sniper’s favorite campground. Great days, yeah.

  3. dystome says:

    Ah, is it that time again already? Okay, I’ll take the first swing at UT-was-better-than-Q3.

    I know Q3 was faster, I know it had the higher skill ceiling and the better online community. But it just didn’t feel like *fun*. It was all grey-brown and clinical efficency. Opponents who could core an apple from across the map with a railgun and 0.2 seconds’ thinking time. Exploiting absurd glitches just to be on a level playing field.

    UT was a chaotic, neon explosion of a game. Occasionally a worse player beat could beat you through a series of flukes but that’s what made it a game rather than an aptitude test. Q3 was the better contest but UT was the better *game*.

    • wyrm4701 says:

      Q3 was the better contest but UT was the better *game*.

      All the this. Between the level design, mutator system, and weapon variety, UT was a much better product. Q3 had a collection of dull brown maps (and the two or three other ones everyone played), a predictable weapon set, and an expectation that community content would provide some innovation. Epic definitely swung for the fences on UT, whereas id games could barely be bothered with anything outside a fast engine and pretty playermodels.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Yep, this. I only tried Q3 a few times but I never saw the fuss. Years on, it’s easy to see from videos and reviews and thoughtful comments what it did right, why it has so much popularity and respect, but back then, just PLAYING it, I never felt anything for it. It was dull and yeah, clinical is a good word.

      UT by comparison was just loud obnoxious FUN, win or lose. Right from the off I’d snag the occasional frag even when I was blatantly the worst player in the match, and there was room for genuine inventiveness with its absurd weapon-set. That’s actually one area where I feel UT’s sequels have fairly continually improved, too, even if they’ve slipped in other ways. I haven’t played the newest, community-built one yet, waiting til I have a machine with the grunt to do it justice, but I have high hopes. UT has always been the only online shooter I could ever love.

    • Elric666 says:

      Indeed. Some time after I played the shit out of UT I played Q3 and I remember the double disappointment. First of all I was disappointed that Q3 did not have a singleplayer campaign mode like all of ID’s previous games, and then I was disappointed that the main multiplayer aspect of the game was so lackluster and not nearly as polished as UT. Only deathmatch, no Capture the Flag or Domination modes, the levels and weapons seemed a bit “meh” compared to UT. To me it seemed UT did everything better than Q3 did, and then some.

      I was actually a huge ID fan until then and it always felt to me that Q3 was the turning point when it started to go downhill with ID. Now they did make some great games after that, I quite enjoyed Doom 3, Quake 4 and even Rage, but it seems they lost their rockstar status in the gaming industry at that point, peaking with Quake 2 and going down since Q3.

      • Raoul Duke says:

        Only deathmatch, no Capture the Flag or Domination modes,
        U wot mate?

    • headless97 says:

      I grew up with Unreal, so my preference is based in nostalgia, but I like the weapons in Unreal a lot more. There are rotating-barrel rocket launchers, pistons that launch white hot shrapnel, giant chainguns, spinning disks, orbs of acid, and a nuke launcher that takes up half of your screen. Every weapon having a secondary fire made each of those even more interesting.

      My favorite way to play is to do 1v1 Duels on small maps against a really hard bot. I used to do one difficulty under Godlike in UT2k4.

      I got to play Quake 3 much later, but it is incredibly fun. I have difficulty with the high skill ceiling and the advanced movement options, and I also don’t like picking up symbols that represent weapons and not the actual gun. That doesn’t change how much fun I had with Quake Live before it got loadouts.

    • LexW1 says:

      Absolutely spot-on.

      Quake 3 was outright shit as a game. Terrible. Especially against people with any kind of varied skill levels. I was a pretty good Q1/2 player, so I would just boringly slaughter people who were like mediocre or new in Q3. Totally one-sided. Equally, against truly expert Q3 players, who knew all the tricks and bullshit and timings backwards, I would be slaughtered. Pretty much no-one was ever having fun when I played Q3. Experts got bored, people like me got annoyed, normal players didn’t even get to kill anyone much so wondered why they were even playing. That’s not a good game. It wasn’t even fun to watch an expert play, because you had to spend most of your time running around using dodgy movement tricks and firing rockets blind at anticipated locations or the railgun with precision twitch-shots.

      Whereas UT was actually a game where you had fun and crazy stuff happened, and being good gave you a distinct advantage, but it wasn’t that extreme because so much crazy stuff was going on. Plus the mods were awesome and absolutely wild. I don’t even remember Q3 mods except some bad player models.

      • Ericusson says:

        “Quake 3 was outright shit as a game.”

        Ok, probably why it still has a solid MP scene still going.

  4. Urthman says:

    UT had a mod that gave the same headshot damage to shots between the legs while the announcer intoned “CROTCH SHOT!” in his rich, manly baritone. Checkmate, Q3 fanbois.

    • Urthman says:

      Also, when you go to play UT today and (of course) turn all the graphics up to the maximum setting, the announcer says, “HOLY SHIT!” to congratulate you for living in the future.

  5. Mungrul says:

    Q3 will always be my favourite in any argument about which was the better game overall, but I’ll happily concede that UT catered more to single player and had more fun modes for solo-play out of the box. And that was still pretty important on release, as internet connectivity around 1999-2000 was utter pants in the UK.

  6. DingDongDaddio says:

    UT > Q3, no contest.

    The weapons are what sold me on it. The Flak Cannon is still the coolest weapon in video game history. Shotgun + Grenade Launcher? Fucking awesome. And shoutout to the 8-ball, a rocket launcher that lets you load up 8 rockets to fire off simultaneously. (I guess it’s only 6 in UT, but it’s still sick)

  7. Thankmar says:

    Coming from Doom and the other Quakes I was Team Quake in the beginning. But since I didn’t (and don’t) care for MP, especially the more competitive kind, UT was so much more fun, with bright colours, being more scifi and having the assault mode. Just loved to play that, even with bots. I even liked it for *not* having a tropey shotgun. I always felt a little like a traitor, though.

    • Elric666 says:

      You are not a traitor, friend.
      You did the right thing.
      You did the right thing.

  8. Doubler says:

    UT is still one of the games I play to blow off some steam or relieve a spell of boredom.

    I actually bought a pack with UT, UT2004 and UT3 on Steam not long ago to try out the sequels. I don’t know if it was nostalgia, but the original was the only one to retain its desktop real estate.

  9. Ross Angus says:

    Think not Strangelove but a surfboard, as you steered it around the level and detonated it outside the enemy’s front door.

    More like Darkstar, then?

  10. Jip says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever manage to put as many hours as I did in to UT99 in to any other game ever, and that’s with over 1000 in Skyrim.

    This was my first foray in to MP games, at first nervous because ya know – I was OK in SP, but would I get humiliated online ? Started on US servers with 400 ping, and learned to plan ahead a little bit, then settled on Euro servers playing Insta DOM, joining a clan, then forming our own clan, competing on ClanBase (RIP) and pretty much spending as many hours as I could get away with on IRC and pub servers until my ex-wife moaned at me to eat dinner.

    UT99 will always be my favourite memories of online gaming, not just because of the game, but also those I met and knew who played it too.

  11. Vermintide says:

    Remember how much content you used to get when you bought a game? UT was kind of bare bones, but you still got dozens of maps, bespoke maps for each mode, and near infinte extended value with community maps. Its big brother UT2004 was one of the most generous games I can remember, you got about 30 maps for deathmatch alone and something like 9 game modes each with a similar helping. It should have set the standard, but instead, it has become a lone anomaly in a world where you are expected to buy a game several times over to get the full experience; season passes and no option of community modding.

    I hope the new UT is a success. Playing it so far it’s really nailing things gameplay wise, but the quality of models and such is quite inconsistent.

    • headless97 says:

      I remember counting all the maps in UT2k4 with all the expansion content; it was something like 90 maps.

  12. Psychomorph says:


  13. Cyrus says:

    Only the demo, but it was good fun.
    LAN at school.

  14. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    The one FPS deathmatch game I like the most. At my best I was still quite bad or mediocre at it (one session of multiplayer showed me that), but it was a lot of fun regardless.

  15. Sin Vega says:

    Unreal Tournament was the best one (Quake 3 was ugly and brown and chunky and the weapons and models and maps were boring and the obsession with rocket jumping got on my tits), but I’ve never understood the love for Facing Worlds. It was so one-note and rendered most of the weapons useless.

    I only ever played UT single player, because (a) the internet was slow and expensive then and (b) internet multiplayer is often rubbish. The bot mode was pretty excellent too, especially in team modes. Not a patch on Perfect Dark’s wide range of customisation options and AI behaviours, sadly, but still far better than most (even above average by today’s standards, sadly).

    It had amazing music, too. A particular type of electronica, with influences all over the place, that’s lain dormant more or less since.

    One super obscure thing I loved was a mod for it called Infiltration, which slowed players down, replaced them with modern soldiers and weapons, and made for terrifyingly deadly shootouts where a couple of shots from the humblest pistol could kill anyone (and any head shot was instant death), and there was no armour or healing. It also had a then unique aiming system with a large deadzone and a really strong sense of where your gun was aiming even from the hip (“vectorised aiming”, they called it). Still sort of unusual today, similar to ARMA. I mention it because it was great, but also because I and a friend loved it, but only up to a certain version number – after that, they took it full realistic and extremely tedious and fiddly and po-faced, achieving their obvious goal of being a completely redundant clone of Counterstrike.

    But anyway.

    • headless97 says:

      I used to do the same thing that Graham would do, sit on top of the tower and snipe bots. Facing Worlds was one of my favorite maps just because I could do that. I also used to play Hydro16 A LOT.

      Now, I prefer to Duel hard bots; it forces you to know the map well and to keep your ear open for what your opponent is doing. Staying alive is just as important as getting kills, unlike big deathmatches which are just about killing as fast as possible.

    • thelastpointer says:

      You need to play Facing Worlds against human players. I don’t think one ever understands it; for us, it was all about finding new ways to outsmart (eg. screw with) the other team. Like standing inside the big torches on the top (which was the same color as your team skin, making you really hard to spot); hiding inside the enemy tower next to the damage amplifier and waiting for the perfect moment; grabbing the flag, then hiding on a ledge on the back of the tower and wait for reinforcements; organizing multiple redeemer hits… we never ran out of ideas.

      • Sin Vega says:

        To me it was always the vector for the virulent strain of Tedious Sniperfest Disease that infected shooters around then for the better part of a decade.

    • swaan says:

      Infiltration was great because of the people who you played it with. Operation Flashpoint was a worthy replacement in my book.

  16. Xristo says:

    So many good memories made on Facing Worlds.

  17. Rainshine says:

    One of the only multiplayer shooters I’ve spent much of any time in. Rockets and hammer frags, low grav Morpheus and Phobos… so much fun and terror, as your ragged corpse goes flying from yet another shock combo.

  18. Lukasz says:

    Ah. UT99. I used to play on adept all the time. That was my level of skill where I would win everytime but with difficulty. It’s too hard now.

    But I could never win against the boss in the campaign. The alpha and omega guy.

  19. Raoul Duke says:

    Lots of people here who evidently weren’t very good at Q3… And I say that as a huge fan of UT. Quake had by far the purest, most precise engine of any fps ever. And the maps were outstanding.

    “I was particularly fond of a custom mutator that let you ride the Redeemer rocket. Think not Strangelove but a surfboard, as you steered it around the level and detonated it outside the enemy’s front door.”

    You could always steer the Redeemer from a first person perspective with its secondary fire in vanilla UT…

    • Sin Vega says:

      That’s why Quake 3 wasn’t as good. If you want “purity and precision” in a shooter, you can do away with 99% of the game and just measure the time it takes everyone to click a crosshair on a floating head icon. Which is essentially what a lot of dull PC shooters do, and why console shooters are often more fun.

  20. icemann says:

    Flak cannon. Enough said.

  21. TheSplund says:

    The mods, the maps, the meshes, the soundpacks! So much 3rd party extra stuff. Playing as, or against, Homer Simpson or Bender (or so many more) was excellent (Smithers) but the Strikeforce mod (icluding a map from NOLF if I recall) was a truly enjoyable alternative to CS with bots. Great times

  22. thelastpointer says:

    Such an awesome game!

    One map nobody really talks about is Hall of Giants. We played some awesome matches on it with thrilling low-gravity chases. Also DM_SpaceNoxx with permanent invisibility! Everybody sneaking around this small map trying to land a headshot.

    And if you ever got bored, you could spice up the game with relics, which added a new layer of tactics (and the ultimate annoyer, the Relic of Vengeance. There was a guy whose only goal was to grab the Relic of Vengeance and try to kill as many people as he could. And then he would laugh. Man, fuck that guy).

    Also there was this mod called Dark Magic (I guess) which replaced weapons with upgradeable spells. That one would deserve an entire game based on spell-slinging deathmatches.

  23. Lava Croft says:

    UT for the kids. Q3A for the adults.

    Both great games in their own right.