Are We Going Ever to Get To See An Unreal Tournament Game?
It’s difficult to argue with the notion that multiplayer gaming reached its peak with the introduction of games such as the Unreal series, which is the arena shooter to be reckoned with. Unreal Tournament was the place for fast-paced, hardcore, and non-stop fragging. It’s in my veins.
Unreal Tournament was not only brought back more recently than the other games we have covered in this retrospective series, but its demise and subsequent disappearance from the gaming scene is still very noticeable. Unreal Tournament has a history that spans close to 25 decades. Perhaps it is time for Unreal to return. We are asking today the question: Will Unreal Tournament ever return?
The History of Unreal
Unreal was an FPS for PC launched in 1998, long before the term “Tournament” and “Engine” became synonymous. EpicMega Games was then known as EpicMega Games. The Mega was dropped a year later. Epic wanted to create their own game that could counter the popularity of FPS titles such as Id’s Quake 2 and earlier first-person shooters like DOOM. Wolfenstein, Duke Nukem, and others.
Tim Sweeney, Epic’s founder of the Unreal Engine, was responsible for creating the Engine that powered the first Unreal games. Unreal Engine has now reached its fifth iteration, UE5, and has been used. Various versions of Unreal Engine also power the visual production behind shows such as The Mandalorian.
Unreal (the game) lets you play as a prisoner on an alien planet. They are forced to fight their way through Skaarj, hordes that have subjugated locals. Unreal sold well enough. It reached one million copies in 16 months. Epic was able to capitalize on the Engine’s legacy.
Tim Sweeney, an IGN interviewer, spoke out about how Epic licensed the Unreal Engine to other developers in an interview: “After we started showing an early version, our first licensees, Legend Entertainment and Microprose, called us up and inquired about using our Engine for their games. We were delighted by the opportunity. Our early collaboration with these partners established the model for our engine business that continues today: open communication between licensees and licensees.
The team realized that Epic’s original Unreal was not up to par with online multiplayer and began working on an expansion pack. After months of hard work was born. The idea was to make Unreal Tournament a standalone title. It launched on PC in 1999. Dreamcast and PS2 followed in 2000 and 2001.
Epic has maintained its commitment to both the Unreal Engine series and the Unreal Tournament 2003 game series over the years. Unreal Tournament 2003 was launched on PC in 2002. UT 2003 received great reviews and would be the foundation of titles such as the Rainbow Six series or Splinter Cell. This proved the effectiveness and versatility of Unreal Engine 2, which further cemented Epic and Unreal’s reputation.
Epic Games was not content to make history in the PC gaming industry. In 2002, Epic Games launched Unreal Championship, a specially designed Unreal spinoff. Although Championship is technically Unreal Tournament 2003 with a different title, the game was specifically designed for the Xbox console and was promoted as one of the first to use Microsoft’s Xbox Live online gaming platform.
Unreal Championship’s core legacy can be best described because it is the first console game to receive a downloadable patch. Guinness World Records recognized this achievement. Its Metacritic score is 83, which is nothing to sneeze about. The game was also nominated for Best Xbox Shooter, Best Online Game, and Best Xbox Shooter awards, but it lost to MechAssault.
The 2004 edition of Unreal Tournament 2003 included the same content as the 2003 edition but with new maps, characters, and modes. Onslaught Mode was the main addition, offering large-scale battles and vehicles. The classic Assault Mode made a return. Although it isn’t as historical as the previous game in this regard, content-wise, it was a significant improvement.
Epic Games was the creators and owner of Unreal Engine. However, this didn’t stop other developers from working on Unreal games. Legend Entertainment developed Unreal II: The Awakening for PC in 2003. It was later ported to Xbox. The game would remove the Tournament and competitive aspects in favor of a storyline sequel. Unreal two did include an “eXpanded MultiPlayer” option, but it didn’t achieve above a 75 on Metacritic. Even worse, reviews were given to the Xbox port.
Unreal Championship 2 – The Liandri Conflict would carry on the Xbox-only Unreal line, although a Windows port was eventually canceled. UC2 would adapt the series’ fast-paced arena combat gameplay by adding a lock-on feature. This was to compensate for the inaccuracy of the console controller sticks. This console-only Unreal version would be trendy, scoring an 85 on Metacritic.
Epic released Unreal Engine 3 after a long wait. This was the foundation for Epic titles such as Gears of War and Unreal Engine. Epic also revealed Unreal Tournament 3. This new version of Unreal was devoid of the Championship branding or yearly monikers.
Unreal Tournament 3 was released on PC and, for the first time in many years, PlayStation via PS3 (November 2007). However, the PS3 release was limited in North America. The PS3 version was released worldwide in February 2008 and the Xbox 360 version in July 2008. The series’ fast-paced combat was perfected in this version, earning it an 86 Metacritic. It was also announced that the game had sold more than one thousand copies before launching on the Xbox 360.