'astounding' Unreal game
After four years of work, Epic has released Unreal, a title originally
supposed to compete with Quake for gamers' hearts.
Originally intended as a showcase product for MMX technology, the game's
release stalled as new technologies were incorporated into it. 3D accelerated
graphics, 3D positional sound, coloured lighting and artificial intelligence
for the monsters were all crucial additions along the way.
also paid careful attention to the demands of multiplayer gamers.
Unreal can be played over modem, network or the Internet. You can have
a male or female character, and each comes with a large variety of different
costumes to differentiate amongst players.
As far as describing this game, it's difficult to know where to start.
How about with the enemies that dodge, duck and chase after you? Or the
variety of weapons? How about the levels that are blended so seamlessly
into each other that you actually feel like you're walking around a real
place instead of just in a big box? Even outdoors scenes with waterfalls
and animated wildlife don't slow down the game.
The scenery in this game is remarkable; Unreal provides quality along
with the quantity. Look up into the sky and you'll see stars, but
not cartoon-looking ones. These look real and they're behind smoothly
rolling night clouds. The moon casts shadows, as do the torchlights in
buildings you encounter. Smoke rises from chimneys, translucent and naturally
Unreal also provides more of a challenge, thanks to better intelligence
built into the enemies. Though the monsters in Quake 2 will duck and chase,
they're not overly sophisticated. In Unreal, they really are smarter and
The fighting seems to be personal with these guys!
One feature which I particularly like in Unreal is the inclusion of 'Bots.
These bring the benefits of multiplayer gaming to the single player. You
can create 'Bots that will hunt you just as if you were playing a network
game against another human. Though still computer-controlled, the 'Bots
will perform more like a real player.
Unreal's story involves your character being marooned on an inhospitable
world after the prison barge you're on crashes. Aside from the now freed
prisoners, you've also got the native flora and fauna trying to kill you.
Traps and ambushes await everywhere.
The game's interface will be immediately comfortable to anyone familiar
with DOOM or Quake. It is fully customizable, so that any action can be
assigned to a keyboard, mouse or joystick function. Graphics and
audio control are also set up for detailed adjustment.
When you think you're done with the game, you can modify it from scratch
with the included UnrealED editor. This is the very same tool used by
the game's developers to design the levels in the finished product.
Support for nearly all modern 3D accelerators is supported through Direct
3D. Owners of 3Dfx Voodoo or Voodoo2 boards will get special support through
Needless to say, a game this robust will have some glitches. All of the
different combinations of hardware could not possibly be accounted for,
nor could the challenges of network and Internet play. Epic has already
addressed a number of these concerns through minor compatibility patches.
Players with 3D audio cards like Diamond's Monster Sound will want to
download the patch from the Unreal site. It fixes a sound stutter
that many players (including myself) experienced, and increases game performance
tremendously. This kind of instant support is nice to see. Unlike many
games, though, Unreal was ready for store shelves. These patches
are to fix specific problems related to specific hardware concerns.
Players may have the Game of the Year in Unreal. It's nice to see a title
that has been so hyped actually deliver the goods on every level.
And for the people who worked on it the last four years, it has to be
satisfying to release a game which will certainly be considered a classic.
Bilodeau is a columnist for the Edmonton Journal. You can find more of
his columns at www.southam.com/edmontonjournal/computers/bilodeau.html.
Bilodeau can be reached via e-mail at StevenB@msn.com.
And for more computer news, visit JournalExtra, the World Wide Web site
of The Edmonton Journal, at http://www.edmontonjournal.com.
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