Review by one_gundam_war

Reviewed: 12/05/03

Not Unreal, Not Unreal at all...

Unreal 2 is the sequel to the immensely popular Unreal that was released in 1998. One of the things fans loved most about Unreal was the fact that it managed to stick with the standard first person shooter story of the time, but tell it in a way that actually told a beautiful tale of how a band of humans made their last stand against a powerful alien menace. However, all of this was told through the last words of the few humans who survived long enough to write it.
Unreal 2 however has pulled a complete 180. Gone are the beautiful maps where someone could get lost in there for hours. Gone is the excitement of fighting for your life. Gone is the sympathy you feel for the dead. Unreal 2 in short is a decorative hallway.

The gameplay is mediocre at best. The guns for the most part are unimaginative and bland (and what few ''fun'' guns there are you have little to no ammo for). The enemies charge mindlessly at you. Unreal 2's idea of enemy AI is to have monkey-like aliens hop in place.
As I mentioned earlier, the game for the most part is a decorative hallway. By decorative hallway I mean that everything is pretty, but there is no real freedom and the game is a bit too straight-forward. Sure there are a few places where you can go left or right, but they usually lead to the same hallway or something akin to that.
The bosses are (for the most part) interesting the first time you face them. The second ''mission'' of the game has a very interesting battle in which you really do feel like you are fighting for your life. However, once a strategy is found for each boss they are nothing.

The story of Unreal 2 is pathetic at best. In it's most simplified form (which lo and behold, is the story) you are basically searching for a series of magical relics. It does have one or two plot twists, but beyond that the game is still pretty simple.
The game itself is just a planet-hopping adventure as you hunt down magical items followed by a climax. Because of this there are no real sub-stories because you never have a chance to talk to anyone but your crew members.
All of the characters are the stereotypical version of whatever they are trying to be. There is the ex-military man, the zany alien, etc. For all I know a computer could have just printed out these characters, that is how basic and shallow their personalities are.

This is the only place that Unreal 2 shines in. It is actually very beautiful and atmospheric. Everything from a tropical paradise to a dark alien hive is rendered in beautiful detail. The swaying of the grass alone is amazing.
Also, the golem particles result in very realistic effects. For example, if you toss a smoke grenade followed by a concussion grenade you will actually see the depression made by the initial explosion followed by the smoke being spread everywhere by the blast.
The voice acting, while bland, still gets the job done. I would have preferred actual voice actors, but it is still better than nothing.

Well, the game is pretty short. I beat it in 7 hours, but most people beat it in about 9 from what I have heard. However, there is nothing to replay the game to unlock or view. All difficulty settings are available at the beginning, and the hardest mode is not too difficult compared to the normal mode (so maybe someone who beat it on easy may have something to do). There are no secrets or bonuses that you get for a second playthrough, and nothing changes.

Final Notes
Unreal 2 is a standard first person shooter. However, that is not saying much in today's day and age. The gameplay is very average and the story is the standard for first person shooters. However, the lack of replayability overshadows Unreal 2's amazing graphics.

Final Score:3.75/10
Unreal 2 is worth buying if you are looking for a game in the bargain bin. However, do not expect another Unreal. It is a beautiful game, but the lack of entertaining gameplay makes it just that, a decorative hallway...

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

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