Platforms: Windows 95
Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: GT Interactive
Staff Notables: Tim Sweeney
April 30, 1998
is a first-person shooter
first released in 1998
by Epic Games
. It was that company's first
release, and widely lauded as the "Quake
killer" for its superior graphics engine. (It was also
one of the only PC
games of the time to have TV
s with long memories may recall the
15-second ads ending with the slogan, "It's called Unreal
because... it is
.") The game seems to have
been intended primarily as a showcase for the long-in-development engine. Unfortunately, to that end its release
was rushed. The result was that initial releases of the game were very buggy
, often having compatibility errors
and causing random crashes; in particular, the multiplayer
mode was all but useless until patched. Moreover,
while the system requirements
are paltry by today's standards, they were rather high at the time, which caused
further frustration for many.
The game itself is rather straightforward. You awaken in your cell on a prison ship
after it has crash-landed on
an unknown world. You find your way out of the ship and start making your way fairly aimlessly around the planet
presumably looking for a way off it. This would be fairly simple, except that a vicious alien
race known as the
have taken over this planet for purposes of resource-gathering, meaning you have to kill approximately
five kajillion of them to get anywhere. Big surprise
The graphics are good (superb for the time the game was made), especially for outside landscapes - they are, after
all, what the Unreal engine was designed for. There are a few quirks that make it less realistic
- for instance,
fire any long-range projectile weapon
(the Dispersion Pistol will do) up at the sky, and watch it until it
disappears. You will see it act as though it's hit a surface - and it has. The music, done primarily by Alexander
and Michiel van den Bos
, is terrific. More to the point, it's appropriate
and lends great
to the game - you don't get some kind of futuristic techno
music when you're exploring a Nali
village, you get music that lends itself to the setting.
Overall, it's a fun game to play, but there are a few problems. The first is the AI
. Some people have actually
claimed that the Unreal AI was the best of the time. Perhaps this is true, but it isn't saying much. The fact that
enemies can always follow you doesn't make them intelligent, it makes you a homing beacon
- they even know where
you are when no real person would be able to find you. Secondly, at many times the game seems to consist of long
stretches of easy gameplay (you run through a temple
, kill a couple Skaarj and a Brute or two, boom, you're done)
to incredibly-difficult gameplay (like fighting a Titan and an unlimited number of Krall in a small room). Thirdly,
there is no melee weapon
. This wouldn't be so irritating if your primary weapon was like the blaster in Quake
, which never ran out of energy
; but instead it takes time to recharge. To compound this, many crates take two
or three hits before breaking open. Fourth, the Nali are entirely too easily killed, and too "sensitive" - by which
I mean, they'll treat you like a Skaarj any time you've caused them damage, even if it was an accident or a result
of saving them from an enemy. It's a good thing you don't need them to complete the game, or you'd be utterly
And now, for some slightly less subjective
Dispersion Pistol: Ammo limit: 50 (90 with full upgrades). This is the first weapon you pick up in
the game. It's a simple, self-recharging blaster, shooting low-energy pulses of plasma, or something. The
secondary fire mode "builds up" a shot worth several regular ones, and has some splash damage, but in the
middle of a fight waiting for it to charge is likely to get you killed.
AutoMag: Ammo limit: 200. Just a normal pistol, albeit one with bullets that instantaneously hit
their target. You have to reload it after ever 20 shots (in fact, it's the only weapon in the game that needs
to be reloaded), and the game doesn't let you do so before the clip runs out. Secondary fire is what the
developers call "gangsta style" (shudder), it just makes the gun shoot faster and less accurately.
Stinger: Ammo limit: 200. A projectile weapon which machine-guns shards of "Tarydium" at a pretty fast
rate. It's often useless against Skaarj Warrior classes (see below), though sometimes they're stupid enough to
stand right in the line of fire. The secondary fire is a shotgun-like blast of five shards at once, which is
really only useful at close range.
ASMD: Ammo limit: 50. The ASMD is essentially some kind of laser rifle. It's reasonably powerful,
but for obvious reasons you need pretty good aim for it to be useful. The secondary fire mode sends a ball of
projectile energy at the target. Hitting one of these energy balls with the primary fire will trigger a large and
rather destructive explosion that you don't want to be anywhere near. In addition, the ASMD imparts some kinetic
energy on its subject, which can sometimes be used to push enemies off cliffs and such.
Eightball Cannon: Ammo limit: 48. Pretty standard rocket launcher, with the exception that you can
load up to six (not eight) rockets at a time before firing. The Eightball Cannon can also "lock on" to enemies.
Secondary fire expels the rockets as grenades. Holding the secondary fire button down while loading and firing
rockets will cause them to fire in a tight circle instead of a broad line.
Flak Cannon: Ammo limit: 50. Fires metal fragments (flak) at high velocity. The Flak Cannon is
devastating at short range, but its potential for damage goes down significantly the farther your target is. It is
all but useless for long-range attacks. The secondary mode fires the explosive Flak shell as an arcing projectile,
exploding on impact.
Razorjack: Ammo limit: 75. A vicious Skaarj weapon that fires razor-sharp steel shurikens which will
ricochet off the walls several times before disappearing. Secondary fire mode allows the player to control the
movement of the blades to some degree. It is possible (though rather difficult) to decapitate an enemy with the
GES BioRifle: Ammo limit: 120. A pretty innovative (if gimmicky) weapon, it fires Tarydium waste in
gelatinous blobs. If they don't hit an enemy, they'll stick to a surface for a short period of time, and then
explode. Holding down secondary fire makes the blob bigger and more dangerous.
Assault Rifle: Ammo limit: 50. A standard sniper rifle, though it can easily be used at short range as
well. Secondary fire operates the scope. It is possible to decapitate an enemy with the Assault Rifle, but I've
found that even if your aim is perfect, the game won't always register it as a headshot.
Minigun: Ammo limit: 200. A machine gun with instantaneous damage (like the AutoMag). Irritatingly, it
also uses the same ammo as the AutoMag, which means the latter will quickly become useless, considering the high
rate of fire for the Minigun. Secondary fire increases the rate of fire even more, with decreased accuracy.
Translator: Allows you to read messages in any language. Note that this item only appears once, and failing to pick it up will make the game somewhat harder (and less fun).
Flares: Lights up a small portion of a room for 30 seconds, then explodes harmlessly.
Flashlight: Lights up the area in front of you. Batteries run out after 90 seconds.
Searchlight: Lights up the area in front of you; lasts for a very long time.
Bandages: +5 health points.
Med Kit: +20 health points.
Nali Healing Fruit: +26-31 health points if fully grown.
Superhealth: +100 health points up to 200 total.
Assault Vest: 100 armor points, provides some protection against all attacks.
Kevlar Suit: 100 armor points, provides significant protection against all attacks (which is curious, since Kevlar only stops bullets).
Toxin Suit: 50 armor points, provides minimal protection from attacks, but its main purpose is to protect you from toxic waste.
Shield Belt: 100 armor points, completely protects you until it is exhausted.
Dispersion Pistol Powerup: Upgrades the Dispersion Pistol to make it more powerful. This can be done four times.
Amplifier: Quadruples the damage inflicted by energy-based weapons - the ASMD and Dispersion Pistol.
Dampener: Silences your weapon for a short period of time.
SCUBA Gear: Allows you to breathe underwater for 60 seconds.
Jump Boots: Allows you to jump quite a bit higher than normal, but only lasts for a few jumps. Also protects you from falling damage.
Nali Fruit Seeds: Will grow into Nali Healing Fruit plants upon activation.
Voice Box: Meant to distract and confuse enemies. It doesn't work really well in single-player mode, though.
Invisibility: Turns you invisible for a short period of time, though you become visible briefly while firing. Essntially useless against the computer; enemies know where you are regardless of whether they can see you.
Force Field: Another essentially useless item; it creates a small cylindrical force field that can't be passed. Since most areas are larger than it, however, it's rarely much of a barrier.
There are far too many classes of enemies in Unreal to list them all here without boring you all to death.
Therefore I'll limit myself to descriptions of the several broad types of enemies in the game.
Native Animals: HP: 45-600. Most animals on Na Pali are fairly harmless. There are a few,
though, that are intent on making a meal out of you. These range from the Horsefly and Devilfish, low-hitpoint
creatures which can only attack you if you let them get close enough; to the Gasbags, huge round flying beings that
can belch fireballs. For most native creatures, the AutoMag or Minigun (depending on how tough the thing is) is
the easiest method of dispatchment.
Brutes: HP: 210-500. As the name implies, these Skaarj-controlled beasts are quite large and dangerously
strong, so it's best to keep at a distance when attacking. In addition to their melee attacks, Brutes fire
low-yield rockets from their "pistols", making your life just that much more difficult.
Skaarj Warriors: HP: 180-320. Though they possess fewer hitpoints than some Brutes, Skaarj Warriors are
much more dangerous. They are extremely fast, and possess razor-sharp claws with which to shred you to pieces. In
addition, they can fire an unidentified type of energy projectile from their hands, and can usually avoid
projectile attacks with ease. You can sometimes use the Stinger against them, but your best bets are the Minigun,
Flak Cannon, or ASMD.
Skaarj Troopers: HP: 140-220. These Skaarj weren't good enough to be Warriors, apparently, so they make
up for it by giving them weapons - the same ones you have. Various Troopers may be armed with everything from a
Dispersion Pistol to Eightball Cannons. (There's even one armed with an AutoMag, a decidedly human weapon.) In
addition, they carry energy shields which, when active, significantly reduce the amount of damage they take.
There's no particular weapon to kill these guys with; just avoid their attacks and make yours count - don't fire on
them while their shields are up, it's a waste of ammo.
Slith: HP: 210. Amphibious relatives of the Skaarj, these aliens spit toxic sludge and can
hack you to bits with their claws. Use the Stinger or the ASMD against them; or if you're feeling adventurous, get
up close and use the Flak Cannon.
Pupae: HP: 65. These annoying little buggers are baby Skaarj. They go down easy if you can hit them, but
their small size and constant jumping make that difficult. Use the Dispersion Pistol or AutoMag against them.
Krall: HP: 180-240. Alien mercenaries hired by the Skaarj to watch the Nali. They carry
staff weapons which fire low-damage energy bolts. They also have reasonably powerful melee attacks. Occasionally,
a Krall will appear to be dead, but really just lose function of its legs; be careful these half-invalids don't
take you by surprise.
Mercenary: HP: 180-240. Apparently the developers couldn't think of a fourth name for an alien species,
so these guys are just "Mercenaries". They fight with rocket launchers and machine guns, and can activate an
"invulnerability shield". The Elite class can fire their weapons while invulnerable (which begs the question of
why they ever turn it off). Use the Eightball Cannon, Minigun or ASMD against them.
Titans: HP: 1200-1500. These behemoths stand over 50 feet tall and shake the very ground with their
movement. They have three attacks: a melee swipe which you can only survive once or twice; a "ground slam" which
bounces you up in the air, disorienting you and throwing off your aim; and throwing boulders, which will almost
always kill you on impact (even with full armor and health). Start with the most powerful weapons (Eightball
Cannon and Flak Cannon) and work your way down.
Warlord: HP: 1500. This winged Skaarj wields a rocket launcher, which he'll club you with if you get too
close. Projectile weapons, especially slow-moving rockets and low-range biosludge, are all but useless against his
dodging skills. Use the ASMD, Minigun and Assault Rifle to bring him down.
Skaarj Queen: HP: 1000. She may have fewer hit points than the Warlords or Titans, but don't think
she'll be any easier to beat. She fires several types of projectiles out of her body, has a powerful melee attack,
can teleport at will, and creates Pupae. If you have an Amplifier and a fully-upgraded Dispersion Pistol, use
that first at close range. Other than that, use your highest-end weapons to bring her down as quickly as possible.
Unreal Game Manual
Unreal Official Strategy Guide by Craig Wessel
Hours upon hours of gaming when I should have been doing homework