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Updated November 20, 2004

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Unofficial Tournament
(Delta Code)

"Your Death is Unofficial but the Experience is Very Real!"

The smell of blood is in the air. And in this game there can be no survivors. In this Unofficial Tournament, the rules are to kill or to be killed, only to reincarnate again until the tournament has ended!

Choose from several characters based on the speed and range of their weapons. Pummel up to eight bots in twenty-five levels of deathmatch-style action. Then, when you have the guts, challenge a friend on one computer or through network play!.

Game Review
Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
Joe has clearly put some effort into the sprites, as every one of the ten selectable characters has a different 8x8 sprite. While it may only be skin and shirt color that changes, it's enough to distinguish the opponents from each other. The walking animations are also done to high standards.

The game's many projectiles are excellent. They show up clearly against the levels, so you can easily see if you're about to be splattered against the wall. Only one death animation is used, but it's still entertaining even after repeated play. Even with many dozens of projectiles on-screen, there is no slowdown or flicker.

However, the level tiles are where the graphics fall apart. The floor is a single repeated tile which causes the levels to look quite plain, especially those with large open spaces. Trees and bricks decorate some maps, but these are only average, and on the whole the levels look drab and flat. The other tiles are simple and not at all seamless, so you can really see the rigid grid-based format of the game.

The menus and option screens are text-based, but functional, clear, and concise. Whenever the deathmatch ends, the game flicks back to text again to display the results at a higher, sharper resolution.

Another nice feature is the map preview - before selecting your map, you can see a smaller image of it. This is an excellent touch that prevents a lot of wasted time remembering which levels are fun and which are boring to play.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
N/A Unfortunately, Unofficial Tournament doesn't have any music or sound at all. This is a shame, as a game like this would benefit greatly from a techno soundtrack and some sound effects for explosions, rocket firing and so forth.
Gameplay (n.)
The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe
UT scores well in the gameplay department. While simplistic, it's really easy to pick up and play. Just pick a map, number of opponents and your character, and you'll play a match. Only five keys need to be used - the arrows to move, and Control to fire - and your weapon is always the same.

This, however, is one of UT's downfalls. The weapons are pre-selected according to which character you choose (along with the speed of movement). Whilst this brings an element of strategy to the game, it also becomes a hassle. You can't choose the right weapon for the situation - you're forced to adapt to the one you've got. If you're pinned against a corner, your slow-moving Rubiks cube won't help when the enemy can just shoot a few arrows at you and run away.

Joe also added several powerups. Although enemies don't seem to pick them up, they really add to the game. If you can't seem to kill people with your normal weapon, firing in all four directions at double speed should do the trick. Overall, the game is well-executed, smooth and full of features. Even the options menu is packed with settings to tweak as you wish.

Aside from weapon and powerups, the AI is quite poor. Enemies will often wander around doing nothing in particular, or fail to dodge your bullets like a human. Of course, Joe can't make his bots perfect, but you can't help feeling that the bots are based more on random numbers than their environment. This holds true in levels with many obstacles or paths, as bots will get 'stuck' trying to navigate the paths and become easy prey for your weapons.

Another feature I would like is a frag counter for each player, so you can see how you are doing. Currently the game encourages you to shoot as many people as possible until the game flicks to the results screen. Seeing if people are ahead of you would be ideal. A time counter would also be good as the level is time based - once the limit is reached, the match ends.

These qualms aside, the controls are responsive and the fast-paced gameplay makes for frantic, enjoyable action. With eight players in the level, the amount of projectiles on the screen mind-boggling, and the action furious, you can still dodge and weave around bullets whilst sending a few of your own out. At times, you can't see yourself when respawning, but Joe included a flashing box around the player (temporary invincibility) when he respawns, so you can get back to fragging straight away.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
(Very Poor) While UT is full of chaos and killing, there's no story to justify it. The premise is simply to kill as many people as you can, and it's enough for me ;)
Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
Unofficial Tournament offers up 25 different maps, and you can play with any combination of options or characters. The game difficulty can even be changed as you get better.

Nonetheless, even with the features the replay value suffers as the game is too straightforward. Although killing and dodging is fun for a while, the excitement fades and the simplicity rears its ugly head. There is only one, non-changeable weapon, and the opponents all look more or less identical (although they sport different skin and shirt colours).

Although 25 maps are included (and you can make more with the included editor in .bas format), the repetitive graphics mean that the maps, too, look the same, and that only a few of the included maps actually add to the game.

In general, you will get bored of this game fairly quickly. It hasn't much to offer you without a 'career' mode. I found a series of deathmatches to be unfulfilling - perhaps the inclusion of other modes, like Capture the Flag or team matches, would add more variety.

Also, the game only ends when the time limit is reached. I think that a frag limit option should also be included, as it is sometimes more fun to play. The serial link-up option, however, adds to the game brilliantly, with co-op play being especially fun.

Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
Although a deathmatch in UT plays out quite quickly, there are plenty of settings available to change how hard it is. You'll have your fingers tied in knots trying to out-strafe, out-wit and out-fight your opponents, whether human or computer. The bots, while prone to getting stuck or wandering, are fairly lethal when they're on form, and will not hesitate to wipe the floor with you if you don't fight back.

If you find the game too easy or too hard, you can set the difficulty in the options menu, from easy to unfair. The number of opponents heavily effects the game as well - if you're up for a challenge, include eight of them and try to survive for more than five seconds. If you're interested in skill, play one on ones. The game's challenge can be transformed totally by choosing certain weapon/player setups, and certain maps.

Finally, if you're really having trouble or find the game too easy, connect two PCs with the serial cable. You can then play co-op or versus deathmatches with your friends.

Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
UT is, overall, a whole load of fun. It's a blast to fight against 6 or 7 bots in an arena and see if you can be the best player before the time runs out. The variety of weapons and distinction between characters (movement speeds and so on) is superb. With lots of characters and action, the game is frantic - as the game itself says, "Let the chaos begin!"
On the other hand, the chaos might be too much! Playing with the full 8 bots is often a bad idea, especially on smaller arenas, as you're likely to get fragged within three seconds of loosing your temporary invincibility. This is both confusing and fustrating when you never have a chance to fight back. The one hit kill system for most weapons keeps the pace up but is often aggravating.

The ammo is infinite in UT, which again keeps the pace up (no need to collect ammo crates or run out) but also allows users of certain weapons, like the darts or nitrogen gun, to keep the fire button held down all through the match. This detracts from the enjoyment to be had - the fire rate should be reduced.

The bonus items are a fun addition that increase the game's variety. More touches like those would have made the game much better. It's a shame that UT was made as a "simple shoot-em-up" between friends, when it could have been so much more. Still, it excels as a quick time-waster, and it's fun for a while. Unofficial Tournament has its merits and is great to play, but it lacks the polish needed to go up against the latest QB arcade games.

Unofficial Tournament Reviewed by Richard Harris

Players 1-2 players
Genre: Arcade Game
Rating To solve: N/A Final Rating: 12/35

To download Unofficial Tournament (145KB), click here.
wTo play Unofficial Tournament, unzip the file and run "UTRUN.EXE".

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Game Summary
Coding Group
Delta Code 
Homepage URL
1-2 players
Final Rating
12 out of 35 points

The Highs: Fun, frantic action with original weapons.
The Lows: Gets repetitive and fustrating over time.

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