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As it turns out, Unreal is indeed the revelation that it has been hyped up to be since it first appeared as a bright spec on the gaming horizon. At first, I entered the world of Unreal with great skepticism and plenty of lingering feelings of overexposure to first person action games. Now, as I wander the streets blabbering the gospel of Unreal with a dazed grin on my face, I have to admit that this game (with a little help from Quake II, Goldeneye and Turok) has completely changed my opinion of the first person genre.
That said, Unreal took our breath away with fluid moves and scary monsters. We don't induct new games into the Hall if they're simply eye candy. Unreal leaves room for atmosphere, exploration, and plot. Instead of facing hordes of easy-to-kill monsters, you're up against enemies that are smaller in number but incredibly ferocious and devious, and the story line stays strong throughout the game.
Unreal is well made, fun to play and over all very cool. Just don't buy it if you don't have that great of a computer. My rating is a close 4 and a half, leaning toward 4, because of high computer standards.
While the hardware requirements are fairly steep, the game itself pushes the 3D game genre a step further. There are tons of single player levels, many cheats (some of which are quite handy in certain spots. . .cheats can be found in the read-me file), interesting and intelligent monsters, and plenty of beautiful scenery to keep most action gamers glued to their Macs for some time to come. Unreal is likely to cause many gamers to upgrade their Macs just so they can play it. This stands as a true tribute to those who originally designed the game, and those [Westlake and MacSoft] who brought such an advanced and timely game to the Macintosh gamer.
I have only two complaints about the game (which are rather serious); there is no auto-mapping, and it is extremely heavy on resources. If you can survive both problems, and can afford the game then I would strongly recommend it.
So yeah, when you read or hear the hype about "Unreal," believe it. The action in this game is wild, yet it's also very realistic; the enemies move and react in a much more lifelike manor, making them extremely difficult to kill. The graphics are the coolest to date in an action game, both in character animation and landscape rendering (and this is without 3D acceleration), and the audio effects are superb. Only the minor control problems and the huge system requirements stop this game from getting a perfect score.
Ultimately, though, it comes down to whether the game is fun to play, and in that regard it seems that the creators may have been better off focusing on that attribute rather than the graphics.