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Developer: Epic Games | Publisher: GT Interactive
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 04/30/98 | Genre: FPS

Looking back on the years I have spent playing games, I can only recall a small number that actually changed the way I thought about gaming. These few games brought to life emotions inside of me that made the game come alive in a new way that other games just can't do. Doom, Quake, Civilization, Secret of Monkey Island, Gabriel Knight, Gabriel Knight 2, Tie Fighter, and now Unreal. Unreal is the much hyped up, yet one of the most delayed games ever. In fact, Unreal has been delayed so much, that it has become the focal point of many jokes. "It is called Unreal because it does not exist," was a common phrase I used when discussing Epic MegaGames and GT Interactive's new first person shooter. Although it may be hard to believe, Unreal redefines the first person shooter and proves once and for all id Software is a dying company that no longer can be called "King of the genre."

First of all, Unreal is without a doubt the most gorgeous thing I have ever placed eyes on! Although it takes a pretty nice set up to get the most of Unreal, A Pentium 233 MMX should do the job for the most part.... That is if you have a 3d accelerator that Unreal supports. On a Voodoo 1 and the above system with 32 RAM, the graphics are just awesome. The engine allows for so many details that it is, pardon the pun, UNREAL! Birds flying in the air, nasty looking enemies, magnificent waterfalls, blood stains on the ground, HUGE capital ships, etc! Unreal takes graphics to a new level and it really shows how bad the Quake 2 engine is.

Even though Unreal has some of the best graphics ever, the music and sound are equally, if not more, impressive. The music is set so when you activate certain parts of the game, a specific music track will play. Soft, soothing music is played when you are in a "safe area," while an area that includes monsters and/or traps will play intense, scary music. This really does add to the feel of the game and draws you in. Likewise, the sound is superb. Footsteps, boxes being pushed, monsters crying out, water falling, gun shots, elevators moving, birds making noise, a NPC race attempting to communicate with you, fire burning, etc! Unreal reaches a new level in sound effects that few games ever reach. By using great sound effects, the game combined with awesome music becomes an interactive experience that nothing I have ever seen or played can top!!!

Next, not only does Unreal look good and sound good, but there is actual gameplay in the title that is unlike anything else in recent memories. With Doom, id Software created a masterpiece. The game scared you, let you have fun, and taught everyone how to make a good first person shooter. id Software tried again with Doom 2, Quake, and Quake 2 to recapture the same experience as they had done with Doom. id failed and the genre suffered greatly. With Unreal, Epic MegaGames has successfully been the first game and company since Doom and id to create this special feeling in a title. This feel Unreal has proves that while graphics, sound, and music are all good, what a game needs more than anything is a real unique feel for added gameplay value. While playing Quake and/or Quake 2, the user can feel very confined and seem to be in a little box. The same person can also pick up Unreal and while confined sometimes, feel free to wander in any direction and not ever feel like he or she is in a box.

Last, the multiplayer aspect of Unreal is some of the best ever. Although I have heard stories of laggy play on the Internet while playing Unreal, I have never really experienced any more lag on Unreal than with Quake or Quake 2. The problem people are facing while playing Unreal is not Internet lag, but system lag. If you can get it running well, Unreal has some of the best multiplayer seen since Quake! The weapons, while at first seem dumb and unbalanced are quite the opposite. Having so many weapons for every situation really gives you a sense of being prepared for the enemy. Also Unreal takes away the "One hit weapons" that so plagued the Quake series. Nothing was worse than respawning only to die because someone was guarding all the weapons and items! Although the multiplayer is not quite as innovative as the single player, it is still some of the best I have ever seen or played.

Finally, you can tell Unreal is one of the best titles in recent memory. While it is impossible to rank it up against Doom, what can be said is that Unreal continues evolving the First Person Shooter genre just as Doom first did. Few, if any people will have complaints against Unreal. These people that complain are just needing new systems to enjoy this title to the max! I haven't completely and totally recommended a product like Unreal since Mario 64! It is a definite must buy! Your hard earned money will be well spent on this title. Few, if any, ever reach the level of excellence Unreal has achieved. It is definitely called Unreal because it is! *A SPECIAL NOTE TO id SOFTWARE: Quake who?!?!?!*

By Kaleb Rutherford - 01/21/01
ESRB Details: Animated Blood and Gore, Animated Violence

Screenshots for Unreal

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