Well, WOW! is all I can say for now. Unreal is one of the greatest FPS games EVER made! But, it does have its faults.
If you've played Quake, you can play Unreal. Simply set up your controls properly, and you'll be off whacking the crazy Skaarj in no time. The controls were responsive, and worked extremely well. There is no complaint here, gameplay was excellent. The storyline unfolds through the use of your 'Universal Translator', which you pick up at the beginning. This will beep everytime it decodes a message. This keeps you on track and gives you hints and clues. Despite the grandiose level design, Unreal is still, sadly, a linear game. However, to move on, you must complete a few actions, which is basically like a simple puzzle. Find a few levers, pull them, move on, kill the monsters. The gameplay can get repetitive if you're sick of doing the same thing, but this will usually be remedied by the exotic locations. The enemy AI is... interesting. Though isn't that sophisticated, monsters, especially the Skaarj, will use cover against your weapons, and will often dodge and sidestep. These appear to be scripted events more than just AI, but the AI is good.
First of all, I stopped breathing. If your machine has a GOOD 3-D accelerator, you'll see Unreal in its full glory! Having a decent computer, I'd say at least a PII 266, with 64 megabytes of RAM wouldn't hurt either. That's only if you want to see Unreal in 3-D glory; the graphics are fine without acceleration, though you can't help wonder what it might just look like with a card. The dynamic and colored lighting is breathtaking, and when you look at a light from far away, you see that haze bubble of light that you would from far away. When you approach, the haze disappears. The locations are excellent, and the graphics used are breathtaking. The waterfall on the second level of the game is a perfect example. You approach a high bluff overlooking a river of some sort. You can hear the rush of the waterfall, and as you look over, you see the water spilling over from a cave down into the river. Couple that with the birds and beautiful, lush landscape, and you'll be totally immersed.
What storyline? Come on people, this is a first-person shooter. It's against the law for this type of game to have a decent storyline. Well, anyway, here is the storyline: you're a prisoner on the Vortex Rikers prison ship when it crash-lands on some crazy planet. So now you have to get off the planet. But for some crazy reason, you have to walk halfway around the planet just to find an escape pod. It IS worth it though, even if just to see the amazing graphics and lighting effects.
Unreal is the most horrible game online, through all the crap with patches, and bug fixes... it's enough to make a person scream!! If you have the patience to download all the patches required, then you'll be fine, as Unreal plays very well online... provided you have a good machine to play it on. However, if you don't feel like playing online, you can always play an in-game bot-match, which pits you against computer-controlled opponents. They will change their skill and become better dependent on your playing style. Botmatch is great for when you're waiting for that 7-megabyte multiplayer patch to download.
Unreal is a great single-player experience, and the botmatch makes this a replayable game. Couple that with the mods and maps which are being created for Unreal, and you could have a possible Quake-killer here... well, ok, I'm exaggerating, but Unreal is great. If you overlook the faulty multiplayer. Oh well, play some botmatch while you're waiting for that 7-megabyte file to download. :)
Graphics Rating: 7/10 (without 3D acceleration) 10/10 (3D acceleration, based on 16 Meg Voodoo 3)
Gameplay: 9/10 (Your Quake controls work great here, and the game moves at a good pace)
Storyline: N/A (Doesn't apply to this game.)
Multiplayer: 4/10 (unpatched) 8/10 (patched)
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