Looking Back: Unreal Tournament

So, I repurchased one of the greatest granddaddies of fast-paced shooters ever to exist by Epic Games: the very first Unreal Tournament. My brothers and I had a lot of fun with it and for me, it was practically my gateway into playing other shooters down the road like Quake III: Arena by id Software, Halo by Bungie Studios, and Left 4 Dead by VALVe Corporation. Although the game still has its bugs now and again with the bots, it’ll still give you a fair (or unfair, depending on difficulty) challenge as you play through the Tournament.

I like revisiting some of my favorite game modes, of which my number one is Assault. Basically, there are two teams on a given map. The attacking team attempts to accomplish a set of objectives in order to complete the challenge, while the defending team tries to stop them. After the first round, the two teams switch. If the attacking team finished the map, then the defending team has to beat their completion time. Simple, right? Easy? Not by a long shot, particularly on the Overlord map, which is UT’s version of the Normandy invasion (they even say so in the map description).

At the time of purchase, I had the choice of purchasing either UT or its successor, Unreal Tournament 2004. Since I knew UT far better than UT2k4, I opted to purchase the former for nostalgia’s sake. You can find it as the Game of the Year Edition on Steam for the low price of $9.99.

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Looking Back: City of Heroes/Villains

I will admit that I’m not as big into MMORPGs as I once was several years ago. I’ve tried a few of the classic popular ones, my first ever being Tibia by CipSoft GmbH. My eldest brother introduced me to it and I was pretty far into it. Several years down the road, I’ve gone through RuneScape by Jagex (the original one, and I only played through the tutorial before I quit, as leveling up solely through improving crafting skills felt cheap and incredibly stupid, too) and got introduced to the mega-hit World of Warcraft from Blizzard (through a friend in Utah when I was visiting right before volleyball camp in that upcoming week).

And then I discovered Paragon StudiosCity of Heroes/Villains.

I discovered this gem sometime in 2008 (I think). I loved the fact that you could be the sort of superhero (or villain in CoV) that you wanted and develop your character the way you wanted. Additionally there were the available tools for players to create their own missions, characters, and stories to help develop the metahuman world revolving around fictional Paragon City, Rhode Island, and the Rogue Isles, located somewhere in the Atlantic but close enough to Paragon City. I got so into that universe that when I went to Brazil in May of 2009, I had ideas to create my own characters, eventually forming the supergroup I dubbed The Iron Century. This group revolved around a hero I created called the Iron Centurion. His origin was similar to Captain America’s, but Iron Centurion was from Ancient Rome. To keep it short, Iron Centurion was found frozen in modern-day Siberia when scientists from Paragon City were on an expedition to locate some radioactive materials. Back in Paragon, they managed to revive him, and despite knowing only Latin, he discovered his language’s modern derivatives and eventually learned English. The list of key members in the Iron Century will have to be for a later post.

As I played through City of Heroes, I’ve met some cool people along the way. Working with other heroes was a lot of fun, and eventually I developed a variation of teleportation to where I could lock on to a group member in the same map and “pull” them to the group. The vast diversity of abilities across various groups was what kept that game interesting. I mean, the immense character creation system had me sitting there for hours on end trying to create that “perfect” look for my character (in case you were wondering, I couldn’t create the Iron Centurion, as the items necessary to complete his outfit were only found in a high-level Roman-esque island called Cimerora). It was great fighting the different gangs and bringing down minor villains. The first time I fought against an archvillain (essentially an elite boss), a faction leader by the name of Dr. Vahzilok, I remember that fight being nothing but exhilarating. I was lower-leveled in the group but we had healers that picked us up whenever one of us got incapacitated. We really came together as our heavy-hitters wore down Dr. V and eventually beat him. Epic fights like those tend to be memorable.

And then I discovered the alternate dimension that came with the expansion, Going Rogue. There I discovered a completely different world: Praetorian Earth. In the main continuity, the heroes’ leader, Statesman, is the ultimate figure of order and justice who continually seeks to help and defend the innocent, never abusing his powers for his own gain. In Praetorian Earth, he became obsessed with power and sought to rule the world himself under the guise of helping humanity heal from a mostly nuclear wasteland. Sadly, the map felt rather empty, for I had to buy the expansion to unlock the content within Praetorian Earth. As I recall, I once fought alongside a Praetorian hero on Primal Earth (the setting of the main continuity), as the expansion evidently allowed him to cross his character over into the main world. In hindsight, I wish I could’ve progressed far enough to fight the game’s “final” boss, City of Villains leader Lord Recluse before the worst news came in late summer of 2012.

Korea-based NCSoft (who bought the game from Cryptic Studios) decided to close Paragon Studios, thereby shutting down the game in November later that year. Interestingly enough, they also announced the launch of their prized MMORPG Guild Wars 2. One wonders if NCsoft selfishly tossed aside City of Heroes in order to release Guild Wars 2. Personally, I think this was the case, and so I stand by my words when I say that Guild Wars (and NCsoft) killed City of Heroes. In the gaming community, I believe the game still lives on in the memories of all those who forged their lives in that technologically-advanced city in Rhode Island. City of Heroes remains, to this day, the best MMORPG I have ever played.