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  Quake III Arena vs. Unreal Tournament - Comparison

Graphics

Q3A: 50% / UT: 50%

I'm going to break graphics down into 2 sub-categories. The GAME ENGINE itself, and the APPLICATION of the engine.

Game Engine - It's amazing how it has taken over 1 and 1/2 years for the Unreal Engine to be bested. The Q3A engine is VERY impressive, sporting some of the highest polygon counts ever seen on a PC, but I won't go as far to say it's "earth-shattering". When the original Unreal hit the shelves, THAT was earth-shattering. No other game even came close to the detail and beauty of the Unreal Engine. You get that same experience the first time you see NFL2K on the Sega Dreamcast. At first sight, you just have to stare at it, drooling at just how great it looks. Although the Q3A engine is a step above the rest, it doesn't give you that jaw-dropping experience.

Application of the Engine - This could somewhat be related to the MAPS category, though there is a difference (in my mind anyway). Although the Quake III engine is graphically superior, the guys at Epic just seem to do MORE with what they have. This is part of that "polish" that has become synonymous with Unreal Tournament. The Unreal Engine has been tweaked inside out, and stretched to see just what can be yielded from it's code, adding visual scenes and effects that are just as good, and sometimes even MORE pleasing to the eye, than Q3A.

Winner - Tie: The Q3A engine is superior, but the Unreal Engine is in it's polished prime.

 

Models

Q3A: 80% / UT: 20%

This is a fairly easy one. Although UT's models have improved since the original game, Q3A flaunts it's high-polygon counts and "curved surfaces", bringing more detailed and diverse models to the playing field. You just gotta love Orbb... hehe.

Winner - Q3A Hands down

 

Interface

Q3A: 25% / UT: 75%

With the huge number of options and configurations that are available in UT, one would think it would be a painful process to customize game and server options. Not so: UT sports an excellent new user interface reminiscent of MS Windows. It also includes a very well organized server lister that makes finding and joining multiplayer games an almost effortless task. Game developers for all genres should take heed of the example Epic has set with their GUI.

        
Click images to enlarge

Q3A also includes a server finder, though it doesn't provide as much information, and is not nearly as organized or visually appealing. id has stuck to the traditional interface that has been in use since their early days. It does the job, but after working with UT, Q3A's GUI seems a bit behind the times.

Winner - UT: Unreal Tournament's new GUI is setting an example of how easy it SHOULD be to configure a game or find one on the 'net. Chalk one up for Epic.

 

Sound & Music

Q3A: 50% / UT: 50%

Most gamers don't really think of sound and music as a critical component of the overall quality of the gaming experience. Imagine, however, how different that epic deathmatch would be if your rocket launcher sounded like a popgun, or the soundtrack consisted of elevator music. With sub-woofers and environmental audio becoming a standard with multimedia PCs, having quality sound effects and music is a must on the gamer's checklist. We'll break this down into those two elements.

Effects - Q3A's sound effects are excellently immersive, especially the weapons. You can almost feel the kick of the shotgun as it rings out, or the rapid-fire mayhem of the plasma cannon as you spray the entire room. A cool feature causes the deep voice of the game announcer to bellow out the phrase "Quad-Damage" to all the Arena contestants, a warning that somebody has found the deadliest of power-ups. Although most of UT's weapons don't share the "boom" factor that Q3A sports, there are few sounds as nerve-racking as hearing an opponent nearby loading multiple rockets into their launcher, or the whining of the Redeemer's nuclear missile anywhere near your location. Both games do a damned good job of depicting what it just might sound like to be gibbed into a crimson spray and several hundred chunks of charred meat. Hungry anyone?

Music - UT features a primarily techno/industrial/drum-n-bass soundtrack that compliments the game's futuristic setting. Most of the content is fast-paced, instilling a sense of urgency in the player. Q3A, while encompassing a similar style of music, tends to have a bit of a slower, darker theme with more of a metal feel that seems to remain in the background. It's unfortunate that Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) was unable to provide content, as he has in the past, for id's latest project. I prefer UT's soundtrack, but I don't view either title as being truly superior to the other.

Winner - Tie: Both titles do an equally great job of using your speakers as another means of placing you INTO the fray, instead of just hearing it.

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