Review by ramclam
Reviewed: 05/31/03 | Updated: 05/31/03
Very entertaining, with a few common problems
Synopsis: Unreal II is easily one of the more entertaining shooters that I have played for the pc. Although, entertaining is the keyword here; this game lacks intellectual AI or many interesting objectives. Overall, I can easily state what it makes it good and bad in a description of the gameplay and the graphics. 9
Gameplay: Unreal II represents a conjunction of most of what is now explained as a basic shooter. The character (John Dalton “ex-marine'') gradually gains a very interesting and unique repertoire of alien and human weapons, loosely based on modern-day armory. He starts off with a uranium-slinging machine-gun and a classic unlimited ammo laser. Some of the later weapons are stereotypical to this genre, such as a sniper and a magnum. Yet, even later on in the game's around 13 levels, he gains some very extravagant and “awesome” weaponry. They are incredibly fun to use, even if the character is merely firing rounds into a metal wall. The weaponry is very varied and greatly stands among the games other features as an august ship floats among the sea.
Each level features rather lifeless, yet still purposeful objectives, and a variance of stupendous enemies. One level you are fighting savage, mutated arachnids, and the next posts the character up against a massive army of ghost mercenaries who follow the roots of the Japanese samurai. Fortunately, each mission contains different ways of accomplishing goals rather than just flipping switches and finding keys willy-nilly. For example, protecting a repairman from a tower with a sniper or guarding a base with marines and energy beams (along with turrets) as the player himself positions them. Poor placement of these safety devices will rarely affect the outcome of the level, but offer a rather exciting alternative to killing everything in sight.
One con to this rather fun shooter is the AI. It is about as idiotic as Quake or Doom and the new Rainbow Six game (Raven Shield) enemies usually empty their guns while wildly charging at you. This makes sense for some of the lesser and animalistic enemies, but the men (Ghost Mercenaries) will do this to. But one thing to consider is that, tough AI could possibly ruin this game, because at its core it is mainly a fun corridor shooter like the original Unreal. 8
Story: The main character (John Dalton) is an former marine who patrols the edges of space in his low-budget spaceship. John encounters a strange artifact after receiving a distress-call and goes on a hunt for the remaining artifacts under the guidance of Drexler, his boss. During the course of the game, the player learns about his shipmates [on the Atlantis] and watches them as they play out like a good soap opera (if that actually exists).
I liked this game’s story. It groups together so many unoriginal ideas that the game’s story, itself, becomes original. It may seem dull from my description, but it quickly picks up pace, ending with twist. 9
Replayability: Unfortunately, this is where the game sputters and falls. It is approximately 10 Hours long, including the long cutscenes while on your character’s ship. The game has three difficulty settings (easy, normal, hard), and it is worth it to go through this game twice—yet only twice. 7
Audio/Video: I can easily sum it up in one word: stupendous; and I mean every letter of that. The shadows and lighting flow beautifully and have set this game up as a benchmark for future graphics. The Unreal Engine looks incredible; all of the environments look nearly photo-realistic and call-out to the player for spontaneous exploration. Along with the environments, the characters look very good too. They appear semi-cartoony, but are very consistent and show great detail throughout the whole game. Look at a screenshot, and that is actually what you will see in the game.
I never really care much for sound, but this game features an excellent list of it. The music blends in perfectly with the game and every object seems to make a sound while you stare at the stupendous graphics complimenting the ambient audio in every location. Excellent. 9.5
Rental or Buy: This is not a very difficult question to answer: buy. The game may be short but it is well worth it. You will easily find yourself coming back to it in later months, still astounded by the graphics, and reliving the awesome story and adventure. The current price is about $35 (May 2003). Remember, pirating is a stupid idea.
Technical Help: I felt like I would take the liberty to add this section. This game was played on a computer with-
Pentium 4, 2.5 Ghz (XP)
Radeon 9700 pro card (recommended)
Medium-range Creative SB Labs sound card.
I would suggest a computer with 3 Ghz and a 9800 pro card to run this game on full-graphical settings. I ran the game on full settings and experienced common slowdown, but this problem is partially the creators fault; machines even as powerful as a 3 ghz will contain some slowdown too, but not very severe.
(To make this game run more quickly without sacrificing the graphics beauty, turn down the graphics card direct 3D in the graphics card’s properties to very low. This will not affect the graphics beauty, only improve the performance.)
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Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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