When I was a wee lad and was learning to create websites in high school (yes, I know, I’m showing my age), there was this game called Unreal Tournament that all of us would play during class, much to our teacher’s disapproval (and later, reluctant approval). It was a fast-paced shooter unlike any I had played at that time and it demanded so much skill from the player to perform well. Two years passed and Unreal Tournament 2004 was released as an answer to the poor Unreal Tournament 2003.
I played UT2k4 for almost all of my senior year of high school, the summer after and the next year or so. To remember the amount of hours I put into that game and not into my studies would most likely leave me severely depressed (as well as my parents). I joined a clan, entered tournaments and had an overall great experience with the game. The popularity of more casual shooters like Halo and Call of Duty brought about what I considered a very inferior sequel with Unreal Tournament 3. I believe for many other fans, it also left a sour taste in their mouths as well.
Years passed and I thought I’d try out UT2k4 once again to see if it still deserved the praise I constantly gave it or if I was just remembering a better time. I loaded it up after having bought it in one of the innumerable Steam sales and was immediately surprised that I didn’t have to play the game on the lowest settings possible. In fact, I could play it on the highest settings and was able to play through a game I didn’t recognize visually. While it does look much better than what I remembered, nine years have still passed so it looks dated. The game-play was still very enjoyable and I found myself remembering certain techniques quickly: the wall kick, the shock combo, etc. Something I found very enjoyable was the distinct sound that pops when you kill another player in instagib. However, as it’s an older game, I couldn’t find many servers that had anyone playing. I saw plenty of servers but most of them were filled with bots (computer controlled characters).
So while I personally found the game to be fun, it was like playing in a barren land. The community has clearly moved on to another game. Which game that is? I don’t know but they’ve moved on. The graphics have clearly become dated but the game-play still feels right. I don’t know of another FPS that demands as much FPS that demands as much skill and gives players so much mobility but if I ever find one, I will most likely find where the community has moved onto.