An impressive tech demo thinly disguised as a game.
After the impressive track record of the somewhat predictable but hugely entertaining Unreal series of games one can only assume that Unreal 2 is going to be utterly huge and while in a couple of ways it is, that assumption is largely a mistake.
The latest version of the Unreal Warfare engine drives this game and it's looking better than ever with unprecedented detail on all counts. Grass waves, each little metal bolt and rivet actually sticks out rather than just being a texture and shadows bend convincingly over the surroundings.
The best feature of Unreal 2 by far is the level editor. With a strong basis to create mods and scenarios, an ambitious team could do wonders with this and designers are given some real power to play around with. Best of all since the game is based on Unreal Technology if you've ever had any prior experince editing an Unreal game then you'll feel right at home here.
Unfortunately the other good points of the game aren't really that great. There are some fun scenarios such as defending a base and leading a squad of marines as well as some nice, if a little generic weaponry but...
sadly these things are not enough to take the game to the same level as the graphics engine.
The sad attempt at a story is sloppily put together and as thin as water. Even the attempt at interactive conversation trees is unfounded because at no point can the conversation be taken in new directions. All the player can do is simply exhaust all possible options until the characters shut up. The gameplay is very generic and strangely unplayable largely due to ridiculous accuracy from some enemies coupled with slow sluggish movement. Your character also has the (dis)ability to jump-dodge with a double tap of a direction key which sounds good but more often than not it results in him performing an unnerving leap to certain death over a cliff because you were trying to strafe in bursts.
The Bottom Line
This game is a senseless waste of technology. What could have been a ground breaking and stunningly well realised game has turned out to be nothing more than a glorified tech demo covered in a thin shooter wrapping. Mod authours will no doubt take full advantage of the engine and create add-ons that far outstrip the original but until then we're left with a very meger offering indeed.