breadcrab's Unreal (PC) review

If you have time and patience, and like shooters, try this out.

1998 was a great year for video games. Revolutionary games like Half-life, The legend of zelda: OOC, Rainbow six, Metal gear solid, and Banjo-Kazooie were released. So its no surprise that many great games were overlooked. But one of the most overlooked was Unreal. Back in the day, its graphics were great. It was the Crysis of 1998. Many people had to get good rigs to play it, which might be why it was overlooked. But there was more to this game. The story is told similarly to half-life, where there are no cut scenes. It takes place in a sci-fi world, and you see the world through the eyes of an unnamed prisoner, who wakes up in a crashed prison vessel. You escape the vessel to find out you are on a planet called Na-pali. You discover an alien race called the Nali, who have been imprisoned by a race called the skaarj, and throughout the game you learn more about both races and ultimately defeat the skaarj. The gameplay is a lot like most old shooters, and you collect many weapons and defeat enemies, but all the weapons and enemies are very creative and unique. You'll find weapons like a gun that shoots crystals, one that shoots razorblades, and a bio-rifle that shoots goop. There are many types of enemies, and they all have superb A.I. and will often dodge your bullets and run away on low health. The sound and level design is also fantastic and makes for a memorable experience. There is a wonderful soundtrack, and the levels are all great. Some are fantasy, some are technological, all are memorable. However, its not for everyone. The game is very long, and there are a lot of difficult and downright absurd puzzles. You will be left pretty clueless in some places, and the game is pretty hard. Still, this game is a classic and pioneered many things into the gaming world, even though we don't know it. So in the end, if you're up to it, you should definitely pick this up or get the unreal anthology (great deal!). Its one of my all-time favorite shooters. Remember, it isn't real. Its unreal.

2 Comments Refresh
Posted by dangerousdave

I was playing Unreal tonight and I found it to be quite the opposite of what you described.  It's a very bland game that lacks creativity throughout the entire thing.  The weapons are bland and criminally underpowered, the enemies are uninspired, the level design can be very frustrating, and the story's vague and dull.  I don't hate the game though, and I actually came here to write a positive review of the game---but now I'm unsure.  Seeing your comparisons of Unreal to Crysis and Half-Life caught me off guard.  Graphically, you compared it to Crysis, but that's a pretty weak comparison.  The technology powering the game was exciting then, and the game does have nice lighting, but Digital Extremes wasn't pushing the envelope on this one.  Just compare this to other '98 releases like Shogo, Thief I, or even Half-Life.  All those games manage to create a more believable and realized atmosphere using similar technology.  As far as the story goes, this is as far away from Half-Life as you can get.  There is absolutely no storytelling here.  You have to read through short blips of text you on walls, and there are no characters at all you interact with.  It's a drag, and I have no clue where you got some of this stuff you wrote, let alone the idea this game pioneered a bunch of gaming conventions.
I think a more apt comparison would be Quake II from the previous year.  They're both alien/action games that both don't emphasize story, but Quake II is leagues ahead of Unreal.  Memorable weapons that are satisfying to fire, memorable enemies that made memorable alien noises, and memorable and accessible levels.  After playing Unreal for four hours, it's all just a blur to me with very few standout moments.
Now albeit, I haven't completed Unreal yet, but I plan to, I'm just not very enthusiastic about it.  I hope it picks up.  And by the way, I love Unreal Tournament to bits, and I love old PC games.  I really wanted to love this game, it just hasn't aged particularly well.  Cheers!

Edited by Captain_hawkes

@dangerousdave: i've been playing unreal for the first time this week and i could never call unreal bland and uncreative; quake 2 on the other hand... well im still quite early in that game but so far it's lacking a lot of things i loved about the original quake. i just love how skill based unreal s combat is with the dodging enemies, that all have projectile attacks so you can counter dodge them while waiting for your 6 barreled rocket launcher to fully charge or for the right moment to set off a shock combo. unreal might not have atmosphere but god damn it makes up for it with it's style. it's not meant to feel real it;s meant ot feel unreal

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