Review by Uplink

Reviewed: 04/13/03 | Updated: 04/13/03

Nice graphics, but a poor game underneath it all....

The original Unreal was one of my favourite games of all time. The mix of shooting aliens with weird guns and walking around strange alien landscapes made this game great.
And so as soon as I found out that the sequel was released, I quickly went to my local games store and bought it. Big mistake.
You see, Unreal 2 is not a completely bad game, and I'm sure there are people who will love it, but there are differences between this and the original which make Unreal 2 not nearly as good.

OVERVIEW
Unreal 2 is a 1st person shooter, where you travel to various planets to recover alien artefacts. There is an interesting variety of weapons and locations to play in, but Unreal 2 falls rather short of my expectations.......

GRAPHICS - 9/10
You really can't fault the graphics in the game. Some of the areas you go through are simply stunning, and you can find yourself just standing and staring at the beautiful scenery.
Also, the aliens and character models are very well done as well (some aliens actually look quite scary). realistic death animations can be found as well.
Little details, like being able to shoot birds out the sky with your sniper rifle, add a lot to the game. It all helps to create the feeling of immersion, and it's done very well.

SOUND - 7/10
This is also quite good. There is lots of fast, sci-fi music which lets you get into the game. Plus, the voice acting makes the characters seem believable.
Other sound effects (like aliens, birds and weapons) are good too. Once again they really help you get into the game.

GAMEPLAY - 4/10
Here is why the overall score is so low. The gameplay is what lets the game down.
Shooters are mostly totally linear (it's hard for them not to be), but it feels like no effort has been made to make it seem like there are many paths for you to choose. The game feels completely on rails, with you running down corridor after corridor. It also makes the levels seem shorter than they really are.
I don't think the enemies are particularly impressive either. One of the cool things about the original Unreal was that you were constantly fighting different types of aliens. It made things interesting. Unreal 2 starts off well, with the first few levels having you fight with aliens like Skaarj, Izanagi and strange spiders, but then the next 5 or so levels have you killing mercenary troops, who all look the same apart from their different colours of uniform. This makes gameplay boring and monotonous.

The levels offer very little variety as well. There seem to be only 3 types: The ''Get through the enemy base'' level, the ''Collect the artefact'' level, and the ''Protect the Scientist/Ship/Computer from enemies'' level. These seem to repeat in sequence throughout the game. Cheap!
The developers obviously had a target audience, but the game seems to be aimed at the die-hard shooter fan who just likes to run around killing everyone. A story is running in the background but to be honest it's so faint you don't even notice it. The thing is, there just seems to be no point in continuing to play it after a while, because the game gives you no sense of achievement or progression.
Finally, after every mission you must return to your ship, where you can walk around and talk to your crew. Interesting at first, but becomes so boring that you just skip it as quick as you can.

LASTIBILITY - 5/10
Unreal is not terribly long, but will do you for a little while, if you can be bothered to finish it that is....

RENT OR BUY?
Definitely rent. This game isn't too bad, and is fun for a short while. However, it certainly isn't worth it's full asking price. Either rent it or wait for it to come out on budget.

FINAL COMMENTS
I don't like to keep going back to it, but I can't help making comparisons between this game and the original. Why? Because the bottom line is: The original is better. Perhaps the graphics and sound aren't quite as good, but it's the gameplay that counts, and Unreal is so much better than Unreal 2.
It's a shame, because this game could have been great. However, the developers have concentrated too much on making it a good shooter, and haven't paid much attention to the story and other things that add depth to the game. If they had done this, they may have made a game that was just as good, if not better, than the original. But, unfortunately, Unreal 2 just isn't very good.

FINAL SCORE - 5/10

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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