"The Liandri Corporation's Unreal Tournament enters its twelfth year as a legally sanctioned competition. This year's tournament is the most highly anticipated yet, with teams captained by highly regarded former champions Malcolm, Gorge, and the long absent Xan Kriegor, as well as a dangerous team from the Skaarj Empire."
—Unreal Tournament 2004 introduction
After the success of the first Unreal Tournament game, Epic Games and Digital Extremes decided to milk their franchise with another entry, while Legend Entertainment was busy with Unreal II: The Awakening.Said entry was Unreal Tournament 2003, an attempt to update the UT formula, with modified game mechanics, a new graphics engine and new game modes. Developed nearly concurrently was Unreal Championship, the first Unreal game specifically made for a console, specifically the XBox; a Gaiden Game in an Alternate UniverseAfter the End setting. It was also notable for being the first console game which used patches to fix issues. Compared to UT2003, which continues the previous game's storyline, Championship is placed in a different setting from the canonical Unreal universe, where the Overseers, an alien race, took over the Earth before the Humans could fight back. The Tournament still exists, but rather than "consensual murder", it is to make those who opposed the Empire fight each other as punishment.Unreal Tournament 2004 is the "full" version of UT2003, with new maps, far more options (including ones to emulate the gameplay of earlier games), even more gamemodes, further refined gameplay and engine, and all this along with almost everything UT2003 had. Oh, and it had vehicles. It saw far greater acceptance than UT2003 and is mostly thought of as a very worthy successor to the original UT; to this day it is still often considered the best game in the series.Many found the "feel" and maps of UC and UT2003 inferior to Unreal Tournament, and, with the release of UT2004, UC had officially entered into Canon Discontinuity. Coincidentally, both UC and UT2003 came out around the same time as Unreal II.
Ancient Egypt: The arenas BR-Anubis, BR-EyeOfJahan from UC, BR/CTF-Twin Tombs, CTF-1on1-Joust, CTF-Avaris, CTF-Face3, DM-1on1-Serpentine, DM-DE-Osiris2, DOM-Aswan, DOM-Deserted from UC and DOM-SunTemple.
Ascended Meme: Players really, really liked the UT2003 announcer rolling his M every time Mr. Crow was selected, as the announcer would bark out each character's name as they were selected. (MMMMMMMMMMMMMISTER CROW!) Come 2004, and Mr. Crow's the only character left who's announced when selected.
2004 also has a "Mega Bonus Pack" available for free download, including 13 new maps, 3 new vehicles and 6 new characters.
Floating Continent: Multiple floating islands which you actually get to fight on: CTF-Face3, CTF-FaceClassic and AS-RobotFactory.
Gateless Ghetto: Many of the city maps of the series, such as AS-FallenCity.
Ghibli Hills: Arborea (house of CTF-LostFaith, DM-Antalus, DM-TokaraForest, DOM-Renascent and DOM-SeppukuGorge among other maps, and the home planet of the Gen Mo'Kai, including the Fire Storm team) is a Ghibli Hillsplanet.
Hazardous Water: AS-Glacier, (except the first area) BR-Canyon, CTF-DoubleDammage, (only the part without any buildings) DM-IceTomb.
High-Altitude Battle: Aside from the space platform maps, there're BR/CTF-DE-ElecFields, BR/CTF-TwinTombs, BR-SkyLine, CTF-Citadel, DM-Morpheus3, DM-Plunge, DOM-OutRigger and ONS-Icarus.
Hold the Line: Aside from the return of the Assault gametype, there's also the Invasion mode. In it, all the players in a map form a single team defending themselves against waves of monsters from the first Unreal game. As you may notice, the monsters grow more difficult every time: near the wave 5 there are Skaarjs, and in the wave 11, there are Warlords. The last wave is a Warlord-only wave.
Incredibly Lame Pun: The map CTF-DoubleDammage takes place... in a dam. note The name is a pun on the Double Damage item. The map itself is set in a dam, with the bases connected in a L fashion, with the curve being the Dam itself.
Joke Item: One of the drivable vehicles is an insanely slow toilet on wheels.
Joke Level: AS-BP2-Outback, from Bonus Pack 2. The plot: pissed off redneck Australians get annoyed at the new city beer and go to destroy the factory that's making it, protected by the city slickers and hipsters that prefer the watered down beer.
Land Down Under: AS-BP2-Outback takes place in Australia, complete with Kangaroos everywhere and hilarious Australian accents. Bonus Pack 2 even comes with the "Rootator", which populates any level with kangaroos. To murder.
Lethal Lava Land: CTF-Magma, DM-Deck17, (more of a lava refinery rather than a lava land) DM-Inferno and DOM-ScorchedEarth.
Unreal: DM-Curse3 from 2003 and DM-Curse4 from 2004 are almost direct recreations of DmCurse which in turn got recreated as DM-Curse][ for UT, while DM-Deck17 is the sequel to DmDeck16 which also in turn was recreated for UT as DM-Deck16][, and finally DM-Gael is a sequel to DmMorbias, which also got recreated in UT as DM-Morbias][.
Unreal Tournament: CTF-December and CTF-January are inspired by CTF-November; CTF-Face3 is inspired in CTF-Face, while CTF-FaceClassic is a direct recreation of it with better graphics; CTF-Orbital2 is the sequel to CTF-Orbital; DM-DE-Osiris2 is the sequel to the UT PS2/DC map DOM-Osiris; DM-Flux2 is inspired by (though not the same as) UT PS2/DC map DM-Flux; DM-HyperBlast2 is a direct recreation with some changes of DM-HyperBlast; DM-Morpheus3 and DM-Plunge are both inspired by DM-Morpheus and finally DM-Phobos2 is a sequel to DM-Phobos.
No OSHA Compliance: Lampshaded in all of the stages: it's stated Liandri confiscated or shut down the factories involved due to unsafe working conditions, and then turned the facilities into Arenas.
Shaggy Dog Story: As the description for AS-MotherShip implies, despite the losses incurred on the planet Na Pali, the Skaarj were still strong enough to not only wage war against humanity, but push them back to Earth and nearly win the war, within one year.
"(...) Within a year the Skaarj had pushed humanity back to the brink of destruction. (...) A Skaarj Mothership orbited the Earth, and rained death upon the planet in preparation for the final landing. (...)"
Single-Biome Planet: About the only thing you'll be able to see in the Allerian Penal Colony (DM-Oceanic, DM-Aqua_Mortis) are technological concrete buildings... and sharks:
(DM-Aqua_Mortis description) "The Allerian ice shark is a fearsome predator capable of devouring a man in seconds. If it could carry a weapon, there's no doubt the Overseers would have found a way to put him in the tournaments as well. Not surprisingly, it has still managed to rack up a respectable number of kills. Impromptu games of water polo are highly discouraged."
Storming the Castle: Most of the Assault levels require you to do this, due to the nature of the game. Inverted in AS-Junkyard, which takes place in a, well, junkyard, whose objective is basically to escape.
"The technology has saved countless lives, but not without cost. Rapid deresolution and reconstitution of the subject organism can have several unwelcome effects, including increases in aggression and paranoia, as well as increased probabilities of respiratory and cardiac arrest. Artifacts of synaptic disruption accumulate in the biological snapshot of the individual, leading to Teleportation Related Dementia (TReDs), an incurable disease that has stricken some of our greatest champions."
"This scenario is a recreation of the Liandri robot uprising on the mechanical asteroid of LBX-7683 and the subsequent quelling of this rebellion by human forces. LBX-7683 was an outpost for research and development of the next generation of Liandri robots. Liandri's best scientists were able to introduce increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence into the machines that they designed. Eventually, they rebelled against the humans and took the asteroid as their own, brutally disposing of their creators and mining the rich materials embedded within the rock for their own gain. Liandri's commanders devised a plan to strike directly at the production facility manufacturing the robots. During an all-out assault on the world, a small team was inserted with the sole goal of destroying the AI generators, thereby destroying the ability of the machines to reproduce themselves and ending this uprising."
Underground Level: DM-Rrajigar, based on the Rrajigar mines of the first Unreal game.
Ancient Egypt: The Anubans. The Planets section of Championship reveals that a colony of egyptians were abducted and sent to a moon, where they managed to prosper and evolve, while the Egypt empire on Earth went into ruins. In Championship, thanks to the species being different from each other, they have a great air control.
Ascended Extra: Too many examples, given the jump from just selectable skins or AI enemies to playable characters with fleshed backstories.
The most notorious examples are Malcolm, Brock and Lauren, who were given a bit of backstory in the first Tournament game, but since 2003 onwards were given even bigger roles.
Karag, from the ECE Bonus Pack, was one of the default practice session bots.
Barktooth, also from the ECE Bonus Pack, was one of the Deathmatch ladder bots.
Guardian and Dominator, plus Skrilax from the ECE Bonus Pack, for the Skaarj side, were just selectable skins in the first Tournament game, and to add insult to injury, they weren't even shipped, but instead came with one of the free expansion packs.
Badass Crew: Take your pick. Special mentions goes to the Juggernauts, (led by Gorge) Thunder Crash, (led by Malcolm) Iron Skull, (led by ClanLord) and The Corrupt. (led by Xan Kriegor) In 2004, you can even create your own Badass Crew, complete with just about any custom models you have.
Bare Your Midriff: Asp, Cleopatra, every Thunder Crash female, every Hellion female, and two male examples in Mr. Crow and Harlequin.
Bee People: The Skaarj, again. This time, an entire team of them (Iron Skull Skaarj) show that they have also personality and a Proud Warrior Race Guy behaviour.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Aside from the fact all the woman can be reduced to giblets/burnt skeletons/piles of goo, nearly all of the Female Nightmares averts this horribly. Take a look at their heads, and even worse, read the bios to know how they got those - tortured to near death, shot in the face and nearly dying, etcetera...
Bio-Augmentation: The Juggernauts are all geneboosted humans. They're also (with the exception of Arclite) all career criminals.
Character Tiers: invoked The teams are divided by Weak, (Sun Blade, Super Nova and Goliath) Tough, (Blood Fist, Firestorm and Black Legion) Strong (Juggernauts, Iron Guard and Hellions) and Godlike (Iron Skull, Thunder Crash and The Corrupt) tiers. Those in the Weak tier are the ones you find in the Team Qualification Round, (this means that you won't fight against them in the Ladder) while those on the Godlike tier are the ones fighting to be the team you'll fight in the Finals.
Mighty Glacier: The Juggernauts, slow as hell, but have more resistance to hits, and in Championship they have 190% starting health.
Jack of All Stats: Every human. (Mercenaries, Thunder Crash, Iron Guard, Hellions...) Especially Barktooth, a character in singleplayer who has 80 in all stats and is available from the get-go.
Glass Cannon: To some extent, the Robots. (Both The Corrupt and the Automatons)
Cutscene Power to the Max: Dominator, Malcolm, Gorge, and Xan in the SP intro of 2004. To recap: Dominator can stab an opponent with his Wolverine Claws; Gorge can ram opponents before filling them full of lead; Malcolm's Assault Rifles can kill multiple people in about half a second (impossible ingame due to how weak the rifle is); and Xan has near-invincible armor, taking multiple rockets to the back with no apparent damage. (Actually kind of possible, if Xan had a mega shield and keg o' health.)
(Corrosion's description) "Beneath an exterior of cold metal burns a soul as bright as a dying star, the essence of a being who sought to rule the galaxy at the Emperor's side. With his dreams stripped away from him as easily as his dying flesh, Corrosion now exists only to seek his revenge."
(Lilith's description) "Having lost her legs during an attack on an Imperial medical supply transport, Lilith was captured and sentenced to deletion of personality at the Purgatory penal facility. With her mind and body rebuilt from the ground up she now serves as a bounty hunter for the Empire."
Fiery Redhead: Rylisa, Ambrosia, Torch, Ophelia, Rae, Kane and Outlaw.
(Cleopatra's description) "If you think Cleopatra and Asp have something going on, then you may be right. But it's not something you want to show up for unarmed."
Transplanted Humans: How the Anuban race was formed. Some ancients transplanted humans from Egypt as part of an experiment. While the Egyptian empire on Earth vanished, the Anuban empire went the other way and grew to be powerful.
Wolverine Claws: Mekkor and Skrilax, though they don't use them for melee combat.
A.I. Breaker: Many maps have one or two tricks which can do the trick against the bots in Single Player or Instant Action matches:
AS-Junkyard features two routes: the normal one and a shortcut. Both routes start with the attacking team retrieving the engine for the vehicle and passing the bridge. But from this point onwards, the team may choose to go through the marked route, open the gates to escape from the Junkyard, and go with the vehicle through these gates... or to take a shortcut which involves a giant magnet conducting your vehicle in a more exposed route, but with the HUGE advantage of having three accomplished objectives at once, thus gaining a big amount of time. The AI will NEVER use the magnet.
The Redeemer's secondary fire allows you to take control of the missile, and guide it around until it explodes. You are left vulnerable, since you can't see what's happening around you in this mode, though.
There's also the SPMA vehicle, short for Self Propelled Mobile Artillery, only available in the ECE Edition and through the Bonus Pack 2. The secondary fire of the main seat lets you take control of a small missile which acts as both a satellite-like cam (where you choose where to shoot your next swarm of missiles) and a projectile. While it's shooting, you can follow said projectile's trajectory. It has the same drawback as the Redeemer, though.
Ascended Glitch: The Lift Jump. After the first Tournament game, many maps feature areas with movable platforms where you're required to do this in order to gain an advantage, such as a shortcut to another area or an entrance to a secret area with an otherwise unobtainable item. It's still used in later installments.
Asskicking Equals Authority: After you draft a team before exiting the preliminaries, the final match is a massive free-for-all against your new teammates, for you to prove yourself worthy to lead them.
A-Team Firing: Low-level bots behave like this. Don't try it, or you'll get murdered.
The AVRiL Launcher. Its purpose is to destroy vehicles and turrets, and it does an excellent job at it (a single shot is normally enough to take down a Manta or Raptor). The downside is that it's only effective against vehicles, and it has a long reload time.
The Superweapons have their disadvantages as well:
The Redeemer IS an extremely damaging weapon, but you should be careful while firing it or you might end up killed as well.
The Ion Painter/T.A.G. Rifle calls a Kill Sat, and said Sat is an awesome way to take down a power core or power node in Onslaught or destroy objectives in Assault with the lack of a Redeemer. The downside is that, despite the chance of high damage, it's very difficult to score. In 2003/Championship it was even worse, as you can only fire it if you were in the range of said Sat. And if that wasn't enough, you can only use them on open maps.
The Target Painter also has the same drawbacks as the Ion Painter/T.A.G. Rifle, with the added drawback that the Phoenix can be shot down before delivering its payload, and that the travel time of the bombs can be dodged - unlike the Ion Painter.
Beam Spam: The Shock Rifle, either the normal or Instagib version.
Bee Bee Gun: The Mine Layer in 2004 launches tiny, robotic, explosive spiders.
Blatant Item Placement: Ammo near weapons. Weapons in unlikely places. Powerful weapons, typically rocket launchers, in pretty much unrisky zones.
Capture the Flag: Now with vehicles! Though, sadly, this requires third-party maps.
Car Fu: In the Onslaught, Assault, and VCTF game modes of 2004, vehicles kill dismounted enemies, regardless of how much health they have. And you have nine (twelve with the ECE or Mega Pack) of them to control. To boot:
Among the weapons, the Shield Gun's primary fire, the Assault Rifle's grenades, the Bio Rifle's primary fire, the Grenade Launcher, the Rocket Launcher's multirockets, and the Ion/Target Painter.
Among the vehicles, the Scorpion's primary fire, the Hellbender's third seat's primary fire, and the Cicada's first seat's secondary fire.
It's subverted with the deployed Leviathan's first seat's primary fire, and with the Ion Tank's first seat's primary fire. They only require a single click, though they have a significant delay between the press action and the fire action, which could have been used as a Charge Attack, hence the subversion.
Exploding Barrels: Expect to find several of them in some Assault levels, such as AS-FallenCity. Smart players need to know how to use these to add another chunk of damage to the Hellbender in AS-Junkyard.
Grand Theft Prototype: In the assault map Glacier, the attacking team needs to destroy a facility while stealing a prototype Ion Plasma Tank. This tank has a powerful main gun, with a fast firing rate and large insta-kill radius similar to other superweapons. The defenders can destroy the tank, but it respawns for the attackers.
Implausible Fencing Powers: The Shield-Gun (and vehicles and turrets which uses shields) can deflect energy weapons like shock cores and link pulses. Encouraged in 2004's CTF-1on1-Joust... that is, if you're not using regular weapons there.
In-Vehicle Invulnerability: The Leviathan, Goliath, Hellbender and Raptor will protect your health from enemy fire no matter what, and, in Assault, you get ejected from your vehicle if it explodes.
Joke Vehicle: The TC-1200, a toilet on wheels, with all the armaments, defenses and maneuverability that implies (that is, next to none). Semi-popular for kart-racing servers.
Land Mine Goes Click: The Mine Layer is capable of releasing up to eight spider mines. With the secondary button you can guide them. They explode in contact with an enemy.
Lightning Gun: The Link Gun. The Lightning Gun is a variation in that it's an electrical gun, but it behaves more like a Sniper Rifle.
Macross Missile Massacre: the Cicada's secondary Charged Attack paints a target location with a laser and starts loading ordinance. When the button is released or 16 missiles are ready, the Cicada fires them all in quick succession, all of them Roboteching to the painted location, regardless how much the Cicada moved during the loading sequence.
Made of Iron: The Leviathan. Even the armor on the Goliath and the Paladin are paper compared it.
Multi-Mook Melee: The Invasion gametype pits you and your Enemy Mine teammates against hordes of enemies ranking from loads of Pupae to tougher Warlords.
No Ontological Inertia: Subverted. Some weapons fire their charged shots when you release the trigger, or when you die.
One-Hit Kill: No matter how much health, armor, or shield you have, get run down by a vehicle, shot by a fully charged Bio goop, a well-placed Shock Combo with Double Damage, or the Redeemer and you're done. As in the last game, there's also the optional Instagib Shock Rifle that kills everything it shoots in one hit.
Quad Damage: The Damage Amplifier. Doubles the effect if it's used with the Berserk adrenaline combo.
Roboteching: The Cicada's dumb-fire missiles do this merely because it looks cool.
AVRiLs locked onto a target automatically adjust their flight trajectory to lead the target and score a mid-air interception instead of simply chasing it like ordinary homing weaponry in the game. To this end, they are HIGHLY maneuverable; dodging a locked AVRiL requires a Wronski Feint, a Cicada's flare or breaking the lock somehownote breaking line of sight, killing the shooter or jumping out of the vehicle as AVRiLs won't lock onto unmanned vehicles. Anything else and you run the risk of the missile pulling a 180° turn and coming back for another pass.
Standard FPS Guns: Largely averted. Most of the weaponry has a different feel to it, and one of UT's selling points is that its weapons invariably have some function attached to the alt-fire button. How weapons differ:
The Shield Gun is the melee weapon, replacing the Impact Hammer. Unlike other FPS where melee usually consists of a punching or stabbing motion, this item uses a Charged Attack as it's primary fire. It also has the namesake shield, which can deflect energy projectiles and lasers.
The Assault Rifle replaces the Enforcers. The Alt-fire is a grenade launcher. Also can be dual-wielded.
The Bio-Rifle remains unchanged. The primary fire shoots slime goops which can adhere to a wall. The secondary fire is a Charged Attack.
The Mine Layer replaces the Bio-Rifle in Onslaught maps or with the "Onslaught Weapons" mutator. The primary fire dispenses up to eight spider mines. Altfire produces a painting laser which all your spider mines will chase.
The Shock Rifle remains unchanged. The primary fire is a laser, while the secondary fire is an Energy Ball. Shoot that energy ball with the laser For Massive Damage.
The Link Gun replaces the Pulse Rifle as the game's assault rifle analogue. Primary fire remains the same, but its altfire beam can repair allied vehicles and control points, and supercharge an ally's Link Gun efforts (good luck getting non-clan players to do this, though).
The Minigun has both of it's attacks switched. This is, both attacks are those of a typical Chaingun, but the primary fire is more accurate while less ranged, while the second has more range but is less accurate.
The Flak Cannon remains unchanged. The primary fire shoots shards which bounce on walls and lasts a few seconds, while the secondary is a projectile which explodes upon impact.
The Grenade Launcher replaces the Flak Cannon in Onslaught maps or with the "Onslaught Weapons" mutator. The primary fire dispenses up to eight grenades; the secondary fire detonates them. These grenades will stick to players, objectives and vehicles.
The Rocket Launcher can fire one (primary) or up to three (secondary, which is a Charged Attack) rockets in a horizontal line, a tight corkscrew, or locked on to an enemy player in any of the previous modes if you give the gun a second to acquire them.
The AVRiL (Anti-Vehicle Rocket Launcher) replaces the Rocket Launcher in Onslaught maps or with the "Onslaught Weapons" mutator. It's only effective against vehicles; it doesn't do much damage to players on foot. Its altfire locks the weapon onto an enemy vehicle, which the AVRiL's rocket will then home in on.
The Lightning Gun is a sniper rifle which uses lightning instead of bullets. The primary fire shoots a lightning thunderbolt, while the secondary fire uses a Zoom function.
The Sniper Rifle remains mostly unchanged from Unreal Tournament, and can be found on some maps or by using the "Sniper Rifle" mutator. It shoots bullets as the primary fire, while the secondary uses the Zoom function.
The Redeemer remains unchanged. The primary fire shoots a mini-nuke missile. The secondary lets the player to take control of the nuke.
The Ion Painter, a laser which designates the strike zone for a Kill Sat. Primary fire produces the laser, altfire zooms for precision targeting.
The Target Painter calls for a bombing run instead. The Phoenix bomber can be shot down, and will crash with a Redeemer-sized explosion.
Wall Jump: Added with these incarnations. A few mutators allow you to quad wall jump.
Wave Motion Gun: The Leviathan's ion cannon. It has to stop moving to use it, has a slight delay setting it up, and has a slow rate of fire, but a shot that will instantly destroy anything except a core node or another Leviathan, and it has a HUGE blast radius.
Aborted Arc: The original plot for 2003, which made the cut for Championship was an Alien Invasion which took control of the Earth and made dissidents fight each other for the Overseers' amusement. This arc wasn't further explored, being replaced instead for the actual sequel to Unreal Tournament's story, and with Epic disowning the first Championship game.
UT2004 has five announcer voices: the UT2003hamtastic sports commentator; a new, more subdued male voice; a female voice (the default one this time); the original UT announcer with appropriate updates; and a sexy female voice.
Double Entendre: There are a few, such as when someone gets killed from an explosion from his own rocket launcher, "X fired his rocket prematurely"
Downer Ending: Championship ends with your character getting locked up in the tubes in one of the arenas, constantly frozen in place and unable to do anything except watch people kill each other. And get shot by errant fire.
There's a playable version of the Phoenix Bomber, which you usually call by using the Target Painter, unlockable via cheat. This version is called the Dragonfly.
The Vehicle CTF gametype was technically finished when the game hit the stores, but has no official maps for it. As such, it's not even selectable in the gametype list until you download a custom map for it; there are plenty of those, however.
There aren't official Assault maps featuring objectives which require the "use" key, even with the code being there since retail. Like above, there are plenty of custom maps that take advantage of it.
Green Rocks: Blue glowing crystals (tarydium) that pretty much everyone uses as a power source. Similar to Real Life nuclear power, in that it produces dangerous waste material when used for such a purpose. Unlike nuclear power, said waste is then used as ammo for the Bio Rifle.
Have a Nice Death: "X was X'd by X." "X cratered", often seen in maps where you can fall into space... or lava.
The Assault level AS-MotherShip is a literalBattleship Raid on the Skaarj Mothership, which is a Shout Out to the first Unreal game.
Many maps are inspired by previous UT map DM-Morpheus, such as DM-Plunge, BR-SkyLine and ONS-Icarus.
Invasion mode uses some of the classic Unreal enemies. Some mods restore all of them.
DM-Rrajigar in 2004 is based on the Rrajigar mines of the first Unreal game.
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The Liandri Mining Corporation. Just look at any description on any game starting with Unreal Tournament which mentions them. Hell, they even were one of the main forces behind the Tournament itself!