Under-rated FPS and a decent Coda for the Legend developers.
This game is set in the Unreal universe, but has little to do with the original Unreal game.
Legend Entertainment has always included a good story in their games. Unreal II is no exception. You meet interesting characters, competently acted by skilled performers. The storyline is original in the sense that it completely borrows from a plethora of movies and computer games. I saw elements from Aliens, Anachronox, Half-Life, Starship Troopers, and numerous others. It’s a B movie scripting, but its good B movie scripting. Any fan of Sci Fi would probably enjoy this game on that level. The ending was actually a surprise. The script and game play worked well together.
The environments are breathtakingly beautiful and a good way of showing off your DirectX 9 compliant video card. The sound is equally well done. No drops in audio, and a consistently clear sound even when there is chaos all over the place. The rat-tat-tat of the machine gun was satisfying and the missile launcher throom had a thrilling roar to it. The models were really well done and fascinating to watch. I admit that I found a single contradiction slightly disturbing. Aida is the mandatory scantily clad tomboy. She looks like a young woman but sounds like lunch lady Doris from the Simpsons.
The main character, Dalton, does more than shoot aliens. He talks with the crew and interacts with them on a personal level. Aida and the Engineer have a sorted past that they are hoping to rectify by serving with Dalton. Also on board is a pilot of distant origins named Ne'ban. One of the running gags of the game is Ne'ban's mis-use of the English language. In one scene, Ne'ban yells out "Intercourse!" in a fit of frustration.
Aida is the tactical officer and worried mother figure to Dalton. Shockingly enough, they aren't romantically involved. She and the engineer have an ongoing disenchantment with each other that Dalton helps to work out.
The game levels were very well designed and spooky. Instead of throwing enemies at you non-stop, they let you wander around and get ambushed. A few levels required you to wait and defend until a certain a certain goal was achieved. While not a new convention, they were well done and designed to maximize tension as you heard your fellow soldiers return fire and scream when injured. The enemies always have a signature sound indicating an impeding attack. This builds anticipation as you look around for it.
The diversity of weapons and their resulting effects were spectacular. Causing great death and destruction. Watching your enemies go down in a ball of flame has never been so gratifying in recent memory.
And there is at least one scene that is laugh out loud funny. Play it if you're curious.
All the guns have similiar levels of destruction. It’s also pretty short. You can wander around and attack enemies without a response until the script triggers it.
This game is LINEAR. No options of game play. Very few opportunities for tactical game play. I found myself able to kill a few monsters by lobbing a missile while they walked to a set point in a script.
While the Skaarj are back and hard to kill, they are the only returning characters I could remember from the original. Nai aren't there. Very little mention of anything from the original.
With the exception of the ending theme, I thought the music was obnoxious and relied too heavily on worn out synth themes and rhythm patterns. If there ever was a game that I wish had a jukebox feature, this one is it.
The Bottom Line
A light fare FPS with gorgeous graphics, a good story and great sound. Its way under-rated for entertainment value.