Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode
What we thought
"It isn't better than Quake II. Deathmatch lets it down. In single-player, however, it's perhaps the slickest, most engrossing game you'll encounter this year. Unreal may not be stunningly original, but it is enthralling, exciting... and huge."
What you think
- "Is Unreala notch above Quake II? Yes. But is it a Quake II killer? Not by a long shot. Unreal debuted in a very similar way to Quake: with lots of praise for its incredible graphics engine and the architecture. However, the game itself is lacking: The monsters are weak, no two ways about it. They move unnaturally... as if the world they inhabit has never heard of inertia. Outdoor areas are large, but remind me of the simplistic environments of Turok more than Quake II. They seem to be populated by giant polygons pretending to be rocks, and the odd polygonal tree. I guess PCs don't have the horsepower yet to do a true rolling terrain outdoor environment. However, to their credit, they are huge... The sound is weak, and the weapons are somewhat on the bland side. Is it a great game though? Sure, this isn't Tekwar. On the other hand, is it going to thrill people the same way Quake II did? I don't think so, nor do I think it will stand up to Half-Life. But time will tell, and there's no knocking the engine - - it's got serious potential."
- ''Unreal is quite good, but it's not that good, is it? It seems like a lot of people just finished the first and second levels then went on the Net hyping and raving like crazy. Sure, the initial levels are a little chilling, but after a while the effect wears off considerably. I'm in the middle of the game and things are quite ho-hum. Does it get better in the end? I sure hope so..."
- "Unrealis not the action-packed game that many people made it sound. My brother played the first few levels of the game and ended up getting bored - he was tired of running around looking for stuff to kill. The replay factor isn't very high - it's fun seeing the 'tricks' for the first time, but after three or four times, you get bored. The AI is definitely better than Quake II but it's not all that people have hyped it to be."
- "The single-player game is superb, but the multiplayer is ropey when compared to Quake II. The reason? It appears the Net code in Unreal needs some serious work - at the more, 99% of the players on the Net get so much lag, the game is totally unplayable."
- "If you buy one game this year, buy Unreal. This isn't your mindless shoot 'em up - it's more like going to see a great sci-fi movie and having complete control over what is going on. The special effects are incredible. The atmosphere and attention to detail are so much better than any game I've seen.
What we thought
"Okay, we'll say it again: no, it isn't better than Quake II. Deathmatch lets ft down. In single-player, however, It's perhaps the slickest, most engrossing piece of entertainment you'll encounter this year."
What you think
- "Reading through past reader comments on Unreal, I am amazed at how people miss the point. First of all, first-person games have been at a standstill action-wise. Graphics and level design have improved, but AI and monster behaviour has been the same since Doom: they mass up and go straight for you, regardless of how much you shoot at them. In Quake II we saw them ducking. Wow. That must have been hard. Then, in Unreal, they actually run away, hide, duck, jump around and look for better angles. They even run around corridors to get you when you're unreachable from their current position. A lot of thought must have gone into such clever monster behaviour, and this is why I like Unreal more then Quake II(singleplayer). There's really no challenge in Quake II. In Unreal you need to keep on your toes and concentrate to stay alive. Combine that with great graphics and sound effects, and it's way better than Quake II in single-player mode. In multiplayer mode though, it sucks."
- "I can't believe all the negative feedback on Unreal - this is to provide some sort of balance. "Apart from looking a million dollars, there's some really excellent multiplayer action to be had. Admittedly Internet play is very laggy and a patch is long overdue (I managed to download a sneak preview when Epic accidentally left an internal beta copy of it on their public ftp site - it definitely improves things. I've deleted it now, of course). "One criticism I've read is that the weapons aren't very good. I disagree: you have to learn the best weapons for each situation, and the alternate fire modes and trick shots are great fun. If you're looking for a Quake 2-like BFG, look elsewhere; the weapons in Unreal require a bit more skill and practice to be mastered. I'm not bashing Quake II or Quake, I enjoy these too. But Unreal has a lot to offer regarding multiplayer gaming. It's also a much better single-player game than Quake II."
- "I was shocked to see Unreal thrown into last place. Do you actually think Quake2 has anywhere near as much atmosphere as UnreaP I don't I also bought Half-Life to see what all the fuss was about and to see how It compared. I played it and wasn't really amazed. The interaction with scientists and the AI was good, but atmosphere and level design? There's more atmosphere in a public toilet. Unreal excels in level design and creating a scary atmosphere, and the enemies are cool too. The way the story unfolds as you progress through the game is great. I agree that the weapons aren't as satisfying as the super shotgun from Quake II, but they are fun."
- "Other than Half-Life, Unreal is the best first-person shoot 'em up out there, especially as it's only 20. The atmosphere is amazing - loads better then Quake II. Jedi Knight is too repetitive, and SiN contains too many bugs and shouldn't have even been sold. Ican't wait until Unreal Tournament comes out "
- "I really liked your article on the 3D shooters. I'm a great fan, and have five out of the eight games you covered. However, I don't agree with all your points. Unrears AI is far superior to that of Quake II, SiN and Mysteries Of The Sith, yet you gave it a measly 6/10.I would've given it seven or eight, or maybe even nine. Atmospherically I think Unreal takes the piss completely - much better than Half-Life, SiN and MOTS.
- "After reading you lot bitching on about how crap Unreal is, I thought I'd better set you straight. Unreal is a great game! There's no denying that Half-Life is the best but unreal definitely doesn't come last. And I really can't believe you said Quake II had more atmosphere - there's no bloody atmosphere in Quake 2 at all, it's just a straightforward, boring, linear game."
When we first reviewed Unreal back in that heady summer of '98, it was the year's most spectacular event bar the World Cup opening ceremony. With its engrossing storyline and atmosphere, amazing graphics and imaginative level design, Unrealms hard to fault. Well, a year has passed, and the game remains firmly entrenched in the 'Which is the best first-person shooter?' argument, earnestly exchanging gunfire with the likes of Quake II, Half-Life and SiN. Up against such fierce opposition, Unreal falls short in a number of departments. Firstly, the multiplayer deathmatch mode is disappointing. Secondly, enemies have an annoying habit of running away. And thirdly (and most disgracefully), the weapons are puny and unsatisfying.
That said, the single-player game remains one of the most challenging and engrossing around, boasting a massive play area and the added bonus of a built-in level designer. There's even a highly intelligent Botmatch option. So even without multiplayer magnetism to draw you in, single-player excellence ensures unquestionable longevity. At just 15 pounds, Unreal is a classic buy and not to be missed.
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