After I played Unreal for the first time, I took a step back in time and loaded up my old copy of Wolfenstein 3D, from iD, just to remind myself of the changes that have taken place over the last five or six years.
And I was impressed.
Their have been so many great changes since I started playing this type of game back in college that I don’t even know where to begin.
Right off the bat I noticed that this game, unlike almost all its predecessors, has a real plot. Sure Wolfenstein 3d had a plot, kill everything, find lots of treasure, and find the exit. It was the same way with Doom and even with the later ones like Duke Nukem 3d, from 3D Realms. The only other game that comes to mind that had a plot was Dark Forces, from LucasArts. Besides getting to kill lots of storm troopers, you get to save the rebellion from the empire’s new super weapon. I liked that game so much, that even though I solved it at a friends house, I still went out and bought a copy later.
Unreal on the other had gives you some information to start out with. You’re a prisoner on a space ship and you’re traveling to jail and you suddenly crash on an unknown planet and only you seem to have survived.
What’s happened, what’s going on, how do I get out of here? These are all questions that you have to answer to save yourself. Good luck. I could say a lot more, but why spoil the fun.
The other neat feature that goes along with the plot is the star trek like universal translator, that helps you figure out what signs or the somewhat friendly NALI are trying to say to you. Which is of course how you figure out what is going on.
The graphics for Unreal are really stunning, I think I liked the swimming in the water the best. It just looked so real. I just wish I could have experienced the graphics to their full extent. Which is a concern for me since I have a fairly high-end system. I think I ended up playing the game at about 800×600, which seemed to be a good balance between performance and aesthetics. The graphics were great but the game was very sluggish when I took it up to 1600×1200.
I was also highly impressed with the AI. The monsters had differing levels of intelligence and attacked in accordance with their intelligence level. Some with devastating efficiency, especially when I first encountered a new species.
My favorite new weapon is the "razor jack" which fires a circular saw blade looking thing. The really neat part is that once you fire it you can still command it to some extent. It’s really a lot of fun to play with. I am looking forward to similar weapons in other games. But the cool new piece of equipment would have to be the universal translator I mentioned earlier.
I only really had a few minor problems with the game. The first if that this game seemed especially linear. I realize that games of this type have to be somewhat linear, but this one seemed forcefully so. I did find a few spots where you could hop out of the set path, and I especially enjoyed those times.
My second complaint is that there was no visible warning before the end to the levels. It may not be that realistic, but I miss being able to run back for more health and ammo in Wolfenstein, before I hoped onto the elevator and headed off to the next level.
My final comment is that I hope the rather steep system requirements required to fully experience this game does not hinder the sales of what is a really great product. I am really looking forward to the next product to take advantage of the Unreal engine that I’m sure won’t be far behind.