Review by Ofisil
Not even the graphics can save this one!
Unreal 2: The Awakening is a FPS game developed by Legend Entertainment. In a world full of FPS games that focus on online fun the makers of Unreal 2 choose to emphasize in the single player mode. I, myself am a single player fan, yes I like playing in a LAN with my buddies, I dont really like playing with an unknown dude from Norway or Australia and finally I LOVE the single player experience, so no complain here from me. BUT, (theres a big but here!), when a FPS is focusing in single player it must have something more than shooting and a fancy graphic engine. Unfortunately Unreal 2 is one of the most beautiful games with a gameplay that is more boring than Wolfenstein 3D and for those who arent so old it is more boring than Soldier Of Fortune, (God, I hated that one).
I cant say I expected much in terms of plot but I also didnt expect something so bad either. The first game although had the typical, destroy the main bad guy mission created a wonderful sole survivor atmosphere. In Unreal 2 the story is supposed to be more complicated but the overall presentation is so bad that made me bored as hell. You are a ex-space marine or something and are given the mission of retrieving some pieces of a certain artifact that has some mysterious powers. After that the story goes like this, land in the grass planet, kill the hostile aliens grab the piece of the artifact and board your ship, visit the next planet, the sand planet, kill the aliens and blah, blah, blah. Generally the way the game progresses feels like a parade of differently themed planets in order to show off the graphic engine of Unreal 2. Secondly there are 3 secondary characters in your main ship with 2 of them being the most promising. You get to talk to them before each mission, but as the game progresses you realize that they are here just to be here since they dont really add something to the story.
Why not 10/10 you ask? Unreal games are always beautiful, featuring a topnotch graphic engine and this is no exception. Wonderfully rendered worlds with great variety, from dark forests and industrial areas to a large living planet and an AI robot hive. Highly detailed enemies with great animation and lighting and special effects that surpass any other game of its time. What is the problem? Well the main problem for me is the overall feel of the game, it atmosphere. The original game had excellent atmosphere, it made the only available planet of the game feel so unique and real, it made you feel like you where part of it. Unreal 2 although looks good doesnt feel good! Yes everything is rendered perfectly but that doesnt make the game a piece of art. To say it in another way, Unreal 2 uses high quality inks to draw an average quality picture.
Forgettable music that doesnt help the games atmosphere, simple voice acting and average sound effects, like weak weapon sounds and etc.
Unreal? Yes, like unrealistically bad! Ok, we have a bad story, so who cares? Did the original doom had an actual plot? No, but it kicked booty, Unreal 2 doesnt Let me describe a typical Unreal 2 level. You are lets say in a large grassland with a big base 500 meters in front of you, you think you can roam a bit around the place and search stuff but soon you realize that there isnt anything to see, so you follow the only path available. In these 500 meters you will be attacked by 3 to 5 enemies that are very easy to kill and you can forget about the fast and clever Skaarj of the first game. Here enemies dont do much to avoid you and dont oppose any threat to you as long as you have ammo. What about weapons you say? Well, like all the Unreal games we have a big arsenal of usual and strange weapons that have 2 function modes, BUT, (once again a big but), for the most part are quite useless. Yes we have a grenade launcher with more than 2 types of ammunition, a strange web\blob throwing weapon, a flamethrower and a BFG like super weapon, but 90% of the game is about your shotgun and machinegun and rocket launcher.
Now lets continue our quest for glory and space peace! You enter the base and press a button, (whoa! A puzzle!!!), to open a door, enter the room kill some creatures that are supposed to shock you by ambushing you, kill some kind of a boss which means a bigger variation of the levels simpler monsters and the end! Thats what Unreal 2 is, simple, boring, linear and no original missions. There are games where gameplay means shoot stuff and they are fun that way but not this game. Its not just been there done that but been there and it was better than this!!!. The only missions that where a bit better was one where you protected a small area along with some other marines and one where you had to stop a siege from a large amount of enemies all by yourself but the rest of the game was a joke.
-Very good graphics
-Boring story with unused secondary characters
-Most of the weapons are worthless
-Lacks the atmosphere of the first Unreal
Quake 2 and 4 (PC)
A great example of the slow decay of the game industry. A game that sells with its name and its good graphics but has extremely boring gameplay. Not worth your time and money, not at all
Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Product Release: Unreal II: The Awakening (EU, 02/07/03)
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