Unreal Tournament And The Moderne PC

permalink         categories: video games         originally posted: 2006-08-03 00:51:20

The original Unreal Tournament, from 1999, was a classic—a milestone in multiplayer gaming. There are those who debated which was better, Quake 3 Arena or UT, but for my money UT was always the superior animal. The "theme" arenas were fabulous, the bot AI was a marvel, the "mutators" were amazing.

Happily, it was engineered to last; seven years later and it's still playable (and fun!). And no wonder: it was designed to run well on computers a tenth as fast as what we have these days. Barring one wrinkle, ironed out below, it will install and run just fine on a modern PC. But if you want to have the best possible experience, where it's as pretty as it can be, there are one or two tricks you should know.

So here's my how-to guide.

How To...

To install Unreal Tournament on a modern PC:

  1. Install Unreal Tournament off the first CD.
  2. Pop in the second CD, and install the "high-res textures". These will make many of the levels look much better.
  3. Go to www.unrealtournament.com, to the "Downloads" for "UT GOTY" (Game Of The Year edition), and download and install the following files in this order:
    1. Bonus Pack #1. (If you have the "Game Of The Year" edition, you may skip this step.)
    2. Bonus Pack #2.
    3. Bonus Pack #3, The "Inoxx" pack.
    4. Bonus Pack #4.
    5. The "436 Patch". This will ask you to reinsert the first CD.
  4. Now here's where things get funky. Epic released the source code to one of their renderers, and folks in the community have updated and upgraded it. In particular, this page has not only a nice new Open GL renderer, but a DirectX 8 renderer too! You want the DirectX 8 renderer. as of this writing, the current version is 1.2. (This page also has new renderers for the original Deus Ex and Rune.)
  5. With the new renderer, you can run in any resolution you like. I'm running at 1920x1200 with my widescreen monitor on my Geforce 7600 GT; it runs like a champ. Except: the opening movie has some funny rendering problems. So you need to turn it off. Edit the file System/UnrealTournament.ini in your Unreal Tournament directory. Find the line in the first section ("[URL]") that says "LocalMap=..." Change that to "LocalMap=UT-Logo-Map.unr". (Atari Support says to use LocalMap=Entry.unr, but I don't like that as much.)
  6. While you have this file open, you might as well fix the other thing. The default configuration for the DirectX 8 renderer has a few niceties turned off; you want to turn them back on. Create a new "section" as follows:
    Coronas = True
  7. Save your modified System/UnrealTournament.ini file.
  8. One last trick. If you're on a multi-core machine, like me and my Athlon 64 X2, UT99 will run terribly by default. The problem is that it doesn't like switching back and forth between the multiple CPUs. (I suspect they're using the TSC to provide high-resolution time.) The solution is mildly easy: launch Unreal Tournament, then configure the process to only run on one core. I have a program that can do that for you; you can download it here. That ZIP file contains makenice, a program you can use to launch programs and modify the behavior of the resulting process, and it also contains a batch file that will run Unreal Tournament with processor affinity turned on. Just unzip into your Unreal Tournament/System directory, then use ut.bat to launch Unreal Tournament as normal.
  9. Launch Unreal Tournament. When it asks you which renderer you want, click on Show all devices, then pick the Direct3D8 Support renderer.
  10. Now, me, I have some sort of weird problem, where the menu doesn't come up correctly right away. We've skipped the opening movie, and we're just looking at the Unreal Tournament logo, and clicking away and pressing keyboard buttons won't bring up the menu. But I've found if I Alt-Tab out and then back in again, and then press Esc, the menu comes up fine. So try that if you're having trouble.
  11. Go to the Options menu, to Preferences, change to the Display tab, and set the resolution as high as it'll go. Change to 32-bit color, too.
With all of the above in place, you should now be ready to play a gorgeous-looking Unreal Tournament. Sit back and enjoy this classic game.


One more thing. If you're looking for more maps, you could do worse than download all the maps from the UT archive at Cliffy B's "0wnage". Cliffy B is an employee (game designer, map designer) at Epic, and "0wnage" was his page listing what he felt were the very best community-made maps for UT. He apparently updated it for UT2k3 and UT2k4, but almost nobody plays UT2k3 anymore (why would you, when UT2k4 exists), and the UT2k4 maps are all gone (if they ever existed in the first place!). Downloading the maps straight from his page means dealing with File Planet, but they're all on the west coast servers, which were underutilized when I got 'em.

Update, 2007/02/25: How clueless am I? 0wnage didn't go away for UT2k4, it moved into UT2k4 itself! Run UT2k4, then click on Community, and click on the Ownage Maps tab. There they are, including some big map packs! (Just in time for Unreal Tournament 3, too...)

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