Game 12 Complete!
I've been quite excited to play this one, which has been described as very atmospheric shooter!
Getting it running
Slight problem, this game came on DVD and I had built this PC around a CD drive! My original plan was to not upgrade the PC in any way but then this isn't really a performance upgrade more a "let me install the game at all" kind of upgrade. Luckily I have a very generic (and new) DVD drive from that Tiny PC which I plopped in there. It detected the disk and installed just fine!
Another runny jumpy shooter; I am beginning to get my eye in with these finally and decided to play it on medium difficulty like a big boy. I slightly regretted that decision.
Whilst the action is very high octane with a variety of fast paced enemies, this is the first game that has put any thought to pacing. Starting off with no gun and trying to figure out what is going on; ominous sirens and warnings over the PA, finding our first gun after hearing (and only hearing) the previous owner be killed, before having a "big reveal" on the planet we're on. Unfortunately this pacing is lost later on in the game where it becomes one endless dude-in-corridor murder fest.
An absolute highlight for me was in an early level, making my way down a corridor and suddenly the lights go out one by one in a very ominous way; I can't see anything at all. I can hear something close by that I haven't heard before. I frantically press QQQQ to rotate out my kit a flare and light it, only to see a new, large and angry monster dude (unhelpfully bathed in a scary red glow from my flare) only a couple of meters away! This moment was as effective as any fancy-pants graphics scripted set piece, and compared to the universally slated "press F to pay respects", this actually makes you feel something (in this case, the warm feeling of poo in your pants) rather than just telling you to feel something.
However after the first few levels, which are brilliant, the world building and atmosphere falls away into a fairly generic spacey alieny shooter. At some point I'm pretty sure we changed planets and near the end I think we went onto a space ship but I couldn't really tell, it just all looked the same. This is a bit disappointing as the graphics are excellent from a technical perspective but the world it creates wasn't very... interesting. There are certainly areas of atmosphere such as a couple of boat rides and one of the last levels (The Darkness or something) but overall I just couldn't get absorbed into the world.
Enemies are varied and generally good at conveying their strength. My least favourite dude is the "dual light blob from the hands" who dodges my bullets a bit too often. Enemies dodging is one of the worst parts of the game, they will dodge out the way literally on your mouse click for fire (and only when you click fire) and as such you can't anticipate where they're going to be or time it so they're mid roll and then click fire etc. This is bid deal with the above dual light blob from hands dudes who will dodge about 75%% of the time, this resulted in a lot of wasted rockets.
The weapons are a nice mix with a starting pistol that gets upgraded as you go to become less useless (and also recharges), the flak cannon which immediately became my favourite weapon, a blue laser thing which was my go for those dodgy ******** as it an "instant hit" weapon. A blue nail gun equivalent (i.e. slow 3d projectiles) is also quite satisfying to use especially with its slight delay on shooting the first round with an slightly different sound "pong... pingpingpingpingping..."
The levels are generally linear and thankfully involve no backtracking between levels like in Quake 2. However, a fair bit of "obscure button pressing to open doors on the otherside of the map" was going on, which made me resort to a walkthrough for the second half. However, there was no key hunting; hoo-bloody-ray!
Unreal is a long-ass game taking me about 25 hours to complete. I died quite a lot, but found the bosses quite easy. Quick save and quick load saved the day more times than I can remember.
Graphics and Performance
Unreal looks fantastic. lighting, smoke effects, reflective floors, little details like "idle weapon animations" like the blue laser occasionally venting steam helps to create a very graphically impressive world, even if it is not that interesting. The flares in particular looks great. Certainly good enough to draw me in during those first few levels.
I played in Direct X mode and in general I got a constant 75fps except when screenshotting or quick saving. There were the odd stutters here and there.
The graphics were very dark. I had to play it on maximum brightness, however, screenshots in both fraps and the in-game capture both use the default brightness so they're all very dark.
The music was forgettable, except for the ambient music during the second level where you walk around the planet outside your ship for the first time, which matched the mood perfectly. The music would seamlessly change from action music to ambient music when enemies were around which I liked.
The sound effects were "good" in the sense that I did not notice them being poor. There are a few exceptions for great sound effects, and I would like to make special note that this is the first game that has a different sound as you near the end of a magazine! I swear I first heard that in something like CODMW2 but Unreal did it 10 years earlier!
Was it fun?
Yeeeeeeannno I'm not sure. The first few levels definitely but it falls away to outstay its welcome a bit too long in the second half.
Should you play it?
Again, the first few levels yes, but you might get bored after a couple of hours.
500mb of BMP screenshots this time, and most are too dark to see anything!
Ryzen 3700X | 16GB 3600MHz RAM | AMD 6800XT | 2Tb NVME SSD | Windows 10
AMD DX2-80 | 16MB RAM | STB LIghtspeed 128 | AWE32 CT3910
I have a vacancy for a main Windows 98 PC