Review by Zeph

Reviewed: 04/11/03 | Updated: 04/11/03

A visual feast, but nothing much beyond that.

There I was again at the shopping mall, hankering for yet some more hot FPS action. I needed a good game to wash away the bad aftertaste James Bond: Nightfire left in my mouth. Originally, I wanted to buy Soldier of Fortune 2: Gold Edition. But alas, fate turned her back on me. The game was out of stock. Feeling slightly miffed, I scanned the shelves for any alternatives. And there it was. Unreal 2, in all its glory. Knowing that its predecessor obtained favorable reviews, I thought aloud, ''This couldn't be so bad, would it?'' With confidence, I purchased it and rushed home to play it. Alas, fate had more in store for me.

PLOT 4/10
You play John Dalton, an ex-Marine. He now spends his days patroling the boonies of space along with his motley crew, hoping of a reinstatement to the Marines someday. On one of your basic assignments to check out a power plant on a planet, you stumble upon hordes (well, not exactly) of aliens, apparently eager to get their grubby hands on an ancient alien artifact. Of course, you slaughter them all and retrieve the artifact. It turns out that it is only one part of a bigger artifact. Ooh, the suspense!

So, your superior orders you to go to other planets and get the remaining 7 artifacts. What new horrors await you? And what the hell will the finished artifact be? An ancient paperweight? A garden ornament? All these simple questions will be answered over the course of the game. There is a twist at the end, but most gamers would probably have guessed it 10 minutes into the game.

No complaints here. Unreal had a reputation for being the prettiest game released at that time, and the second one is no exception. From the weapon design to the level design, everything is rendered in painstaking detail. And the shiny surfaces! I just can't take my eyes off those shiny surfaces! Not surprising, since you need at least a GeForce 2 to play this monster of a game. A perfect showcase for your brand spanking new graphics card, if you have one.

All the planet surfaces are uniquely designed, with the exception of the boring, generic desert and ice planet. The noteworthy planets however, are the living planet and the.... rainbow forest planet. It's so damn colourful, its unreal. But I like the living planet the best. Hairs on its surface make you feel like a flea on a dog's back. Furthermore, you get to plunge beneath its surface and perform some surgery! Heavy-duty surgery.

SOUND 8/10
Not bad. The weapon sounds are loud and HARD, just the way it should be in an action game. Set the volume up and fire that Shotgun! And as for the music, they set the pace quite well, with the heavy bass and all. Not that you'll be needing all that adrenaline, though. You'll see why in the Gameplay section.

Responsive and accurate controls are VERY important in a FPS, and Unreal 2 delivers.

Okay, here's where the game falls flat on its face. On a spiked floor. Tipped with poison. And rigged to explode. After the first level, the levels are sparsely populated with enemies. Roughly counting, you will only get to kill less than 80 enemies in the whole game. Not very action-packed. You'll fight most enemies one on one, eliminating most of the challenge from the game. Include the fact that health and shield repairs are in abundance together with the high ammo stocks and the challenge factor is almost set to zero. All this, on Normal difficulty. And what happened to the much-touted AI? Their intelligence almost rivals those in Nightfire!

The levels are linear, which suits me as I kinda dislike walking around aimlessly, wondering what the next objective is. Speaking of objectives, they're all scripted. So if you fail an objective, no problem! Its bound to happen sooner or later. If that hostage dies, too bad pal! Its all in the script! You can't fight the power! The missions are a mixed bag. Escort some people (don't worry, they're mostly invulnerable), defend a location, or the basic search and destroy.

As I progressed more and more into the game, it became easier and easier. Research lab after research lab (jeez, couldn't they have put other locales in the game?) was explored. My expectations plummeted lower and lower. With a faint glimmer of hope, I was hoping that the last level would give some consolation. A huge fire-fight, or a colossal and memorable boss fight. Unfortunately, it proved to be a letdown. At the starting of the level, you get a veritable BFG with near-unlimited ammo. The game is now offically a semi-interactive graphic slideshow.

As for the replay value, there is none. Zilch. Zero. Once you finish the game, you can't do much other than replay it again, which is not an appealing option. A multiplayer option would have saved this game, but since it is exclusively single-player...

I had hoped much more from this game, at least it was a tad enjoyable. But it all proved to be yet another generic FPS game with nothing noteworthy other than the stunning graphics. Get it if you want to see great visuals. But if you're looking for quality gameplay, I suggest that you look elsewhere.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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