Unreal II: The Awakening
5th May 2003 | 15:35
The space-noir classic gets its sequel
It's pitch black. Throat dry, heart a few beats away from explosion point, sweat snaking stickily down your spine, you creep bug-eyed along desolate corridors. The stench is obscene.
Suddenly, out of the velvet darkness, a screeching, mewling monstrosity springs forth. You fire wildly, something hits, something rips, alien blood and guts splatters across your face. It burns, but you're still alive. Welcome to Unreal II.
Unreal was a classic first-person shooter that, along with Half-Life, helped define the genre. The sequel may be less innovative than fans might have hoped, and needs a behemoth of a computer to run properly, but still soundly delivers on all FPS essentials.
The weapons are awesome and include a flame-thrower with added Napalm garnish and a handy-dandy skull-popping Magum .50. Enemy AI is cranked up to insane levels, while the interaction with the raggedy-ass crew fizzes with dry wit.
You play the part of John Dalton, a maverick enforcer quelling disorder throughout the anarchic galaxy. At times the tension and horror is reminiscent of classic space thriller System Shock 2. These quiet, dread moments in bleak, corpse-ridden corridors are where Unreal II excels.
At other times, though, when surrounded by enemies on vast open landscapes you realise that interlopers such as Halo handle such scenarios with more panache and power.