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Unreal (Windows)

91
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Kadath Bird (706)
Written on  :  Oct 11, 2009
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  1.67 Stars1.67 Stars1.67 Stars1.67 Stars1.67 Stars

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Summary

Unreal is strange, and sadly it doesn't hold up as well as its offspring.

The Good

Back in 1998, Unreal looked like no other game anyone had ever seen. It surpassed Quake II visually, and it was one of the few "Quake 2 killers" to turn a few heads. The engine was brilliant in its design, it ran silky smooth even on older computers and looked good regardless of quality, this tradition is continued today as each iteration of the engine looks great and plays great even on slightly dated computers. The tech was always the best part of this game.

The music is nice too, while the galaxy sound system sounds relatively dated in range, there are a few catchy and weird tunes in Unreal.

The weapons are... erm, interesting to say the least. Unreal was one of the first games to really stray from the standard First Person Shooter arsenal, offering two triggers for each weapon and extremely strange functions. Many of the weapons are tweaked and reused in Unreal Tournament and are still being used, although others, such as the Razor jack, dispersion pistol, and 8-ball have been sitting out the last few games. The stinger made a surprising return in Unreal Tournament 3 though.

Along with its strange weaponry, the environments were highly immersive - for the time at least - and the game used a design that was new and interesting.

The AI is decent, and botmatches can be fun, but they don't hold up compared to the much better Unreal Tournament.

The Bad

The problem with Unreal is it simply doesn't hold up. While some shooters stand the test of time, others simply lose their charm or playability in the modern world. Unreal falls into the ladder category, and is not given much attention anymore, and when replaying the game 11 years later, its not hard to see why.

First of all, the map design is a bit haphazard. Maps are a little too large, lack complexity, and get redundant and repetitive. While the omission of key hunts and switch runs may please some people, the levels feel like they are on rails and after awhile, you will just want to get off the ride. Despite its bizarre weapons, it just isn't fun to shoot the monsters. Seeing as there are only 6, excluding the annoyingly creepy bug things and wall huggers, there isn't much to shoot at and it gets boring and repetitive only about an hour in. A shooter that makes the task of blasting monsters seem boring simply isn't worth playing.

The multiplayer world is empty, and not many people played it even before the titanic Unreal Tournament showed up, due to a hastily slapped on netcode that required patch after patch after patch to get working. Playing with bots is fun, until you remember that Unreal Tournament has much better weapons and much better bots to fight.

The Bottom Line

Unreal is a strange game in truth, the monsters are strange, the world is strange, the weapons are strange. The sad fact is though, Unreal just isn't that much fun. At the time, the game had great graphics and everyone was marveling at those pretty sights, but looking back on the game without the technical marvels reveals a mediocre, relatively by the book shooter with lacking design. Some may regard it as a classic, but in reality they are talking about the games much more accomplished offspring - Unreal Tournament. Unreal will leave on in UT, but the game will ultimately be forgotten for what it was, or rather, what it wasn't.