Over the weekend, we got the chance to take a firsthand look at an early version of Unreal Tournament running on a PS2 tool-development kit at the Game Developers Conference. The game was being shown behind closed doors at the Epic Games booth during the California show.
During the demonstration, Epic programmers Brandon Reinhardt and Tim Sweeney ran through a converted version of DM-Codex, one of the game's original deathmatch levels. The player model was equipped with the rocket launcher, which had both primary and secondary fire modes properly functioning. The level itself was almost identical to its PC counterpart in terms of layout and item placement.
The game itself was running at a slow 10fps, however. Greenmarine (Reinhardt) attributed the game's lack of performance to the PlayStation2's awkward programmability. While porting over the code from the PC to the PS2 isn't a problem, tweaking the console's two vertex processors, which has to be done in assembly, is proving to be a pain. However, Epic is confident that the game's frame rate will quickly climb back to acceptable levels after a few more months of fiddling.
The graphics weren't comparable to the PC, as the PlayStation2 version of Unreal Tournament suffered from low resolution (the game was running at 640x480) and some dithering with the smoke effects. That's no fault of the PlayStation2's, however, as the resolution on all console games is currently limited by the televisions they're displayed on.
At E3 Epic will show the latest build of PS2 Unreal Tournament, which is planned to be running on a network at the show. Epic is unsure of how it will implement a multiplayer component into the game as of now, but the programmers aren't discounting a split-screen mode.
Even with the code at the point it's at now, Epic has made no official plans to bring Unreal Tournament to the PlayStation2. As it stands now, the company is going back and forth between a number of publishers, and if a reasonable offer is made, Unreal Tournament might become a launch title for the PlayStation2's US debut.