Reminiscing: Unreal Tournament 99 Mods
Epic Games recently teased another game in the Unreal Tournament series, perhaps the flagship title for Unreal Engine 4. Whether this actually is a thing or not, some of the Nerdfit staff took this opportunity to reflect on one of the best deathmatch FPSes ever released. I’m going to regale you whippersnappers with tales of some classic Unreal Tournament mods, because UT99 had one of the most prolific modding communities ever seen.
Here are some notable mods I have played with for over a decade. Damn.
ChaosUT is no-brainer, having been included with UT’s Game of the Year Edition. The mod adds new weapons, items, maps, and game modes. There are two things I love about this mod: The Bastard Sword weapon (which can actually parry and deflect attacks), and the grappling hook. Aside from that, I think ChaosUT is the only mod that manages to expand upon UT while staying within the game’s overall flavor and style, and this must be why it was chosen above all the other potential mods to be included with the GOTY release. Everyone should note that the version of ChaosUT packaged with the GOTY edition is not the final release of the mod. Even if you install the GOTY edition, you should still upgrade to ChaosUT 1.1.
Unreal4Ever is my favorite UT mod, and perhaps my favorite mod period. It comes with maps, new player skins with special powers, and a whole host of completely crazy weapons. Some highlights: The DrunkMissile launcher, for Rise of the Triad fans; the Crom Faeyr, for fans of Baldur’s Gate (basically Thor’s Hammer on crack); a compound bow with “Nuclear arrows” that engulf an entire section of the map with explosions for several seconds; and finally, the “Quantum Singularity Generator,” a purple cake mixer that shoots black holes — they actually suck people, corpses, and dropped weapons into their event horizon. Unreal4Ever was the first major mod I had ever used as a fledgling PC gamer, and I had so much fun with the over-the-top weapons.
Strangelove 2.0 rounds out my top three. This mod started as a simple mutator that allowed you to ride the Redeemer missile, even pinching Slim Pickens’ iconic scream from Dr. Strangelove. The mod then developed into its own replacement weapon, giving you control over the missile’s throttle and armed state, allowing you to aim and fire your weapons while on the missile, and the best part? You could take a passenger/tailgunner. I spent many a botmach in LavaGiant strafing the enemy fort on my missile.
Bullet Time 3.00 is exactly what it sounds like, and a bit more. See, back in the salad days of 2000-2004, bullet time wasn’t an overused concept that got ran into the ground. One modder basically saw The Matrix and played Max Payne and thought “That would be so cool in UT.” And he did it right. Not only can you slow down time to dodge bullets, but you get some of Neo’s powers from the first Matrix film, (stopping and reversing projectiles). You can also elect to turn the Enforcer, Minigun, and Sniper Rifle from hitscan weapons into ballistic ones, with the mod supplying its own cool-looking bullets. The mod gives you sliders to fiddle around with settings like projectile speed and how much bullet time you get.
Infiltration is the definitive military realism mod for UT. I like to use version 2.75 when playing UT, because the versions after it ran in a standalone client that completely revamped the game mechanics, in addition to adding a host of maps tailored for its new style. I distinctly remember the anticipation of waiting for version 2.80 to come out, and I also remember a few elitist fans this mod had. Combine your typical video game fanboy with military/gun snobs, for a truly fun time taking dumps on Counter-Strike for not being realistic (because in those days, nobody could have anticipated Call of Dudebro). The final Infiltration release was version 2.90, but 2.75 is great if you’re looking for a softer implementation into the standard UT client.
Defence Alliance is a mod that lived for a while, and it started with UT99. I still remember checking out teaser screenshots and waiting belatedly for this mod to be released; when it finally came out, it was glorious. A team-based co-op game where you had to defend an objective against a horde of AI opponents. I even wrote a guide for playing as one of the classes, and published it on the forums! With wall-of-text formatting because I was such a talented writer at 15!
Weapons Factory UT is basically Team Fortress. You can also get the Unreal Fortress mod, which I’ve never played, and I assume it stays closer to the source material.
Combat Zone 1.0 is an unfinished military realism mod. I like this mod because the weapons were well done, but I never use the actual mod. I just import the weapons into my games using a utility called…
StuffSwapper, the unofficial fourth mod in my top three. The idea behind StuffSwapper is to take weapons and items from different mods and combine them into a single, customized package. You can choose which default weapons to replace with mod weapons, from any mod you have installed. It’s one of the most wonderful things. I once emailed the author of the mod to ask how to import the grappling hook from ChaosUT, back before its own creators introduced the “Grapple Only” mutator for Batman wannabes like me. I don’t think anybody made a Batman mod for UT, but someone did make a Superman mod. I emailed that mod’s author with a list of ideas and he implemented them. I still feel embarrassed. Oh, to be 14 again…
UT had its own term for mini-mods that changed maybe one or two things, calling such mods “Mutators.” I didn’t define the term before I used it earlier in the article, because I didn’t want to offend our fans on Tumblr.
A Madman’s Dream increases the maximum amount of corpses per zone in a map. If your computer can handle it — and it’s 2014, so even an onboard Intel graphics processor packs orders of more power than a Riva TNT2 or Voodoo3 — then you can turn UT into a dark satire by allowing the map to become the charnel house it should actually be when the same people die dozens of times in it. It’s thematically deeper than The Hunger Games, and UT’s evil president is a cyborg that holds deathmatches on his personal spacecraft.
BlimpyBoy 1.1 replaces the Sniper Rifle with a “Blimp Rifle.” It’s the same gun, but when you get a headshot, your target slowly inflates and floats upward. Several seconds later, it explodes, raining gibs upon everything below. So if you ever played UT and thought “Man, this game could really use Kabal’s fatality from Mortal Kombat 3,” then this mod is for you. Works even better with…
MoreGore, which lets you increase the amount of blood decals, sprays, and gibs by up to ten times. It gets even more ridiculous than Mortal Kombat at that point, because nothing makes you question yourself quite like blowing someone up with a rocket launcher and seeing their body multiply into more organic tissue than it could possibly be composed of.
Kakutou, because I can talk about gore mutators only so much. Kakutou replaces the Impact Hammer with stylized unarmed fighting. You can punch and kick. Each attack has different damage, knockback, and diminishing returns that encourage you to vary your combos without spamming. You can do special moves including high jumps, wall jumps, and jump kicks that have amazing knockback. It’s almost as fun to abuse as sniping on Facing Worlds. Who am I kidding, I hate playing that map online. It’s the 2Fort of UT.
BatThwap was inspired by the 60s Batman TV show. It takes onomatopoeia and puts it into UT. Every time you shoot someone, you see some onomatopoeia. Bam! Sock! Biff! Oontz!
CrotchShot takes the concept of the headshot that we all know, and applies it to the groin. Multiple crotch hits using either the Enforcer or Sniper Rifle will cause the announcer to declare you the Crotch Master. It means you’re good at making sweaters.
Akimbo Arena allows you to dual wield any of UT’s weapons, not just the basic Enforcer. Akimbo Flak Cannons, Akimbo Rocket Launchers, Akimbo Redeemers? As you can imagine, this gets insane.
MatrixMoves gives you the ability to double jump, freeze in the air, and run up and along walls. As you might be able to tell, The Matrix was a popular cult hit at the turn of the millennium; a glorious, wondrous age when World War II wasn’t a dead horse, the WWF’s Attitude era was reaching its peak, and The Matrix didn’t have sequels.
Perhaps one of my greatest sources of entertainment, you could even mod the ingame voices that played whenever a character taunted someone. There were tons of voice packs, putting all sorts of characters and real people into UT: Homer Simpson, Bender, Spock, Megatron, Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Dr. Evil, James Bond, Sylvester Stallone, Cheech and Chong, Stewie Griffin, The Rock, Butters, and even Timmy, are just some examples.
There is a set of standards for judging how good a voice pack is. A good voice pack not only has a lot of taunts, but also contains replacements for orders, acknowledgements, and situation reports. It’s generally best to stick to a single character, but multi-character packs can work as well (there’s a really good Spaceballs voice pack). Hopefully, the pack’s lines are just the character talking without any background noise or music.
Finally, its samples should also be in good quality; for instance, I downloaded a voice pack featuring the Joker from the DC Animated Universe. It’s a great concept for a voice pack, but the author ruined it by using samples that sounded like they were recorded by holding a microphone up to a TV speaker.
Maybe one day I’ll start making voice packs for UT. I still haven’t seen a Dr. House voice pack, and that would be a great addition. Also a Joffrey Baratheon voice pack, because he’d love this game.
This Probably Won’t Be Relevant Again for a While
So now that I’ve told you about all these cool things that have been a part of my life for longer than my own puberty, you might be wondering where to find mods for a game that’s 15 years old and no longer enjoys the central fansites it had in the past (RIP BeyondUnreal). Well, there are at least a few places where you can find the old mods, mutators, and voice packs, along with many user-created maps:
ModDB has a UT99 mod collection that, while incomplete, features a lot of the most popular mods, including what I discussed here.
UnrealTournament.info has a files page with hundreds of UT files. This is a good place to find maps, mutators, voice packs, and other things.
GameFront (formerly Filefront) still keeps a UT99 file page as well.
Whether we’re getting another UT or not, we still have the excellence of UT99 and UT2004. CliffyB is also working on an arena shooter, so we’re going to keep an eye on that as well. Until then, I’m going to sit here and wonder if I’ll continue to play UT99 for another 15 years.