The following is a meta-article, which explains a concept which usually falls out of one of the wiki's categorizations, yet it's still important to explain something.
Unreal Tournament 2004 was greeted with positive reviews and community reaction, with critics citing unique, fast-paced, fun and challenging nature of the game as the main selling points, while fans touted the post-release support and extensive modding capabilities. The game also received awards for Multiplayer Game of the Year (IGN, Gamespy, Computer Gaming World) and Best Value for 2004 award (Computer Games Magazine). On the downside, UT2004 was not seen as a true successor to Unreal Tournament by some fans. In particular, many players disliked the floatier game mechanics and increased dodging abilities compared to UT that made it much more difficult to hit skilled opponents with non-hitscan weapons. Still, the game made it well enough to guarantee "best game" mentions in several media.
1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die (2013 edition) Edit
The game was deemed as one of the "1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die" (2013 edition) by Tony Mott, editor of Edge magazine, on the eponymous book.
"While the Quake III vs Unreal Tournament 2004 debate will rage for all eternity, it can be stated with certainty that the latter is the finest iteration of the Unreal Tournament template. Its 3-D engine is a masterwork of efficiency, so much so that even low-end machines from the year of its release were able to cope admirably with the game’s huge maps and ambitious graphical effects. This flexibility and solidity arguably has not been seen again since, even in more recent iterations of the Unreal Tournament engine. Perhaps Unreal Tournament 2004 was meant as a demonstration of Epic’s technology, but it’s a brilliant game in its own right, and in terms of level design, a kind of master class. The standard, arena-based death match maps encompass everything from boiling furnaces to gravity-scrambled space stations, while othergame modes introduce huge environments, ludicrous vehicles, and even moving levels, such as an assault on a speeding train. Nevertheless, it’s the balance of play that really kept players connected. Epic fine-tuned this game to the point of perfection. The physics of the weapons immediately make sense, and even unskilled players will feel at home in the tight shooter logic of its world. It certainly helps that the game arrived during the height of the first-person shooter modding craze, because it now boasts thousands of conversions, maps, and mutators. It might take hundreds of hours to tire of the core game, but it would take thousands more to even explore the surface of the materials forged by its fan community. This is a brash and brilliant combat game, but it is also a gateway to some amazing experimental experiences, such as the insane airship warfare of Air Buccaneers and the Mad Max apocalyptic death match of Roadkill Warriors."
The game is ranked 10th in the "16 Best FPS games you should play" list.
"While the number of people still playing Unreal Tournament has waned considerably (as it does for every game that’s been in the spotlight for so long), it’s still fairly popular and arguably the pinnacle of the arena shooter. There’s a lot to learn and many modes to try out, though your enjoyment of these will no doubt be underpinned by how many people are playing.
Epic Games have failed to match this masterpiece in carnage and mayhem despite their efforts with a recent uninspired revival before Fortnite came along and took up all their attention. If you’re sick of building walls, gather some friends and enjoy this throwback instead."
The game was mentioned in the 2019 edition of the best FPS games in the competitive FPS category.
"There are lots of Unreals to choose from—including the new, crowd-developed Unreal Tournament—but UT2K4 is still our office favorite. We still enjoy playing instagib now and then, shocking ourselves with our own motor control, dancing around each other in extended duels until one of us connects. It's fast and loaded with fun guns—the Flak Cannon being one of the best of all time—and you can still find a populated server if you go looking. It's worth it."
The game was mentioned as the #23 best FPS on PC, with an additional mention to Unreal Tournament 4.
"A scene as much as it is a game. Looking back, it’s easy to concentrate on all the mods and things that UT2004 spawned. It was an amazing piece of work for the creative folks among us, and it spawned amazing things like Air Buccaneers. However, it was also an astoundingly well-engineered piece of gaming technology. The Unreal Engine was, at this point, as smooth as a marble, and it clocked up the core super-fast deathmatch of its predecessor with the addition of vehicles and more modes than a very expensive hairdryer. It still plays like a perfect fever-dance of competitive death, with finely-tuned controls that purr in the hand, but the little-stirred melting pot of aesthetic styles means it shows its age in ways beyond the purely technological. God though, this is like complaining that a Lotus Esprit looks a bit a 80s. It’s still a bloody Lotus Esprit, y’know?
Notes: For a far prettier reincarnation, Epic are currently providing an alpha version of a new UT’s infrastructure for free, with content primarily provided by the community. It’s nothing like as a rock-solid as UT2004, nor does it have the variety or player-base as yet, but hey, graphics. Also, freeness."
It was deemed the 96th. PC game of all time by their community.
"Before taking their talents to consoles, Epic Games helped further refine the arena shooter genre by combining their efforts with several other studios to create Unreal Tournament 2004. Not the first of the franchise, but arguably the best, UT2004 featured fast-paced action, on foot and on wheels, across ten game modes and over a hundred maps."
It was deemed as the fifth best PC video game ever.
"Fanatics of first person shooting games can gain the finest in gameplay, music and features of the game in Unreal Tournament 2004. Humans are in war with Skaarj, destroying their galactic empire. In attempt to rebuild the colonies, gladiatorial tournaments are set in the game. The game can be played in different modes. Onslaught game type provides the availability of vehicles. The challenging nature and the fun of the game gained a score of 93/100 on Metacritic and scored 94% on GameRankings."
It was deemed the 6th. greatest Steam video game of the 2000s.
"When it comes to First-Person Shooters, Unreal Tournament is one of the best. When it comes to Arena Shooters though, Unreal Tournament is the best. Taking place in some far off future, the Unreal Tournament series has almost always produced great games for the community. The 2004 edition of the game offered a large variety of game modes, changing the objectives and number of players. There were 95 maps readily available on launch, as well as a good number of weapons and vehicles. UT 2004 was everything a sequel should be: the same basic premise, but bigger, better and with improved technologies. Although its successor, Unreal Tournament 3 was a good game, the 2004 entry was easily the best of the bunch. Nothing I say here can live up to the palm-sweating tension Unreal Tournament 2004 provides, all you can do is buy it for yourself."
It was also deemed the 19th. most competitive video game of all time.
"Unreal Tournament 2004 might not be the first in the series but it's arguably the best. Known for its unique brand of fast paced, adrenaline-fuelled first-person shooting action, the 2004 version added a bunch of new features and modes which made it supremely popular at launch, a major addition being the inclusion of vehicles for the first time. In most first-person series' that might be considered a controversial addition, but with Unreal it opened the game up to larger-scale warfare. This was highlighted by the new game mode Onslaught which made use of the larger maps; players attacked and defended power nodes on the arena, allowing the intense action to be confined to several areas at once. There's still people populating this game online so hopping on for a blast from the past is an easily viable option. Ten years ago though, Unreal 2004 was one of the finest shooters around; it was a massive hit at LAN parties and the online servers were overflowing. The hugely challenging gameplay style meant that establishing yourself as one of the better players in was a highly rewarding achievement in itself."