Oh, this game's okay, I guess. I mean, it's no "Gopher
Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention there.
After months of the usual hype, "Unreal" has been
unleashed on the Macintosh community. This is a good thing.
A very, very good thing.
But before I get to the game, let's talk system
requirements. Those listed above are...well, imagine driving
a Porsche 911 powered by a 4-cylinder fitted from your Aunt
Mary's Ford Fiesta. It's just wrong.
MacSoft actually recommends a 233MHz G3 with 96 to 128MB
RAM, 512K L2 cache and a Voodoo2 3Dfx class 3D accelerator
for "awesome" performance; a far cry from those they list as
the minimum. I tested the game with a 200 MHz 604e processor
without any 3D acceleration, but I was able to give the game
100MB and could therefore bypass virtual memory. Now,
keeping that in mind...
You're a prisoner on a spaceship bound for a penal
colony, but--for whatever reason--the prison ship crashes on
an unknown planet. Your dreams of sharing a cell with Linda
Blair and laboring under the watchful eye of warden Sybill
Danning are brought to a screaching halt (female readers,
feel free to substitute those names with Erik Estrada and
Lorenzo Lamas), and you instead find yourself fighting off
all kinds of ruthless aliens who apparently don't appreciate
the kindness of convicts.
Like virtually every other first person shoot-em-up,
you're expected to explore a strange world, collecting
weapons and fighting off villians on your way to freedom.
Yes, it's formulaic, but the beauty's in the details my
friends. The beauty's in the details.
You've heard all about the graphics by now, I'm sure.
Even the software box itself is blanketed with words like
"stunning," "awesome" and "sizzles." And they're right. Even
without 3D acceleration, "Unreal" is...oh, I don't
know...stunning; awesome, if you will. Perhaps even
sizzling. Despite the warnings of slow game play on anything
other than a G3, I was able to get smooth rendering at
640x480 without double resolution turned on.
But it's not just the graphics that separate "Unreal"
from its predecessors. It's not just the unbelievably
realistic shadow and lighting effects, the haunting
landscapes and buildings, the way the shoulders of the
enemies dip side to side as they run and the sound effects
that are so real I kept getting up to see which of my
neighbors was being tortured outside. No, in a market that's
oversaturated with action games, what makes "Unreal" stand
out is the action.
I have a problem with the sheer volume of enemy forces in
these types of games. I mean, how many zombies or aliens or
Stormtroopers or senators does a guy have to kill to get
home these days? It just gets old after a while, no matter
how difficult the "bosses" become. In "Unreal," you complete
the entire first level without even getting a weapon, let
alone encountering anyone upon which to use one. Don't think
even for a second that this game is boring, though. Trust
me; when you meet your first lesser brute, you'll wish you
were back on that first level.
MacSoft boasts up the "ruthless artificial intelligence"
of the enemies, and for good reason. These things don't just
charge you head on or zig zag as they move in for the kill.
They'll jump, roll and hide to avoid your fire, and they'll
shoot back while doing so. Gone forever are the days of my
favorite military tactic...stand still and shoot until
either you're dead or the enemy is. Nope, to survive
"Unreal," you'll actually have to learn the keyboard
controls, and you'll have to know how to use them well. Of
course, you could always turn on "God Mode" (cheats are
provided in the "Read Me") and just stand still and shoot,
but have some pride, man!
The developers recommend using both the mouse and the
keyboard to control your character, but I found this too
awkward. I prefer to keep both hands on the keyboard. You do
lose the precise aiming of the mouse that way, but it's much
easier to reach the numerous keys you have to hit to stay
alive. You can reprogram the keys to suit your preferences,
but be careful. In doing so, I somehow made it impossible to
center my view after looking up or down. No matter which key
I assign that function, it simply doesn't work. Not a huge
deal, but somewhat annoying when trying to shoot a skaarj or
So yeah, when you read or hear the hype about "Unreal,"
believe it. The action in this game is wild, yet it's also
very realistic; the enemies move and react in a much more
lifelike manor, making them extremely difficult to kill. The
graphics are the coolest to date in an action game, both in
character animation and landscape rendering (and this is
without 3D acceleration), and the audio effects are superb.
Only the minor control problems and the huge system
requirements stop this game from getting a perfect score.
Well, that and the fact that I have yet to fight Linda
Blair and Sybill Danning. Maybe in "Unreal 2" if we actually
reach the penal colony...
- Genre: Action
- Platform: MacOS
- Format: CD ROM
- Developer: Epic Megagames in collaboration
with Digital Extremes (Macintosh version by Westlake
- Requirements: PowerPC 603e at 180MHz or 604e
at 132MHz, 32MB RAM free (64MB recommended, 120MB hard
disk space, MacOS 7.6 (OS 8 recommended), CD ROM.
- Network feature: Yes
- Retail price: $49.99
- Availability: Out now
Raised on Intellivision and "Tron,"
Hiner has been an avid gamer ever
since he was tall enough to look through the viewfinder on
the Battlezone upright. Although he makes a living using a
PC (not by choice) to design websites for Dynamics
Online, Inc., Kirk never strays
from his 9600/200 or 3400c for computer gaming. When he's
not playing the latest Logicware release, he can either be
found working on his next "never to be published" novel,
rereading anything by Kurt Vonnegut or watching RAW is
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