There’s a certain thing that happens when you want something really badly and then you finally get it. It’s called disappointment. Now, thankfully I’m less disappointed in Unreal 2 than I am SimCity 4 (see previous post) but I’m a little saddened regardless. This was supposed to be the “shooter among shooters” and it was little more than a tech-demo.

Before I start in with the bad, let’s talk about the good: Everything graphics related. Period. This is a beautiful game, almost more so then UT2k3. Everything looks great, from the air vents to the enemies to the shell casings fired from your sweet auto rifle. They should be given the award for game engine of the decade. I’m expecting great things from (and will probably be disappointed with) the Doom3 engine, but until next fall this baby reigns supreme. It will probably hold onto the title long after Doom 3 because of it’s playability and multiplayer friendliness. Anyway, just about anything you can think of to say about the technical aspects of this game will be positive. It’s very well put together.

Also, the weapons are balanced and have that perfect “umph” to them. As I was playing I wished I could use these weapons in UT2k3. Maybe someone will make a MOD and really make my day. The music is also well done and mercifully not annoying. Usually game soundtracks are either really bad techno or some awful techno/metal rock mix. This isn’t half bad.

Now, unfortunately, comes the bad news. It’s short, it’s dumb and it’s been done before. When I say short I mean in the -10 hour range. I finished it in two days of lite playing and most certainly could have done it in one if I had found the time. Also, the story is weak… almost Dumb and Dumber weak. You get sent off to find alien artifacts because… well… they might fall into the wrong hands… and that would be bad… we think. So you fly around the galaxy with your crew, a rowdy bunch of military dropouts with attitudes and an unintelligible alien, looking for pieces to whatever the hell it is you’re trying to find. Along the way you kill some stuff, save some marines (we like the marines this time around) and generally blow shit up. That leads us to the end… when, again, you blow some shit up. This is EVERY first-person shooter EVER. Not every game can be a Half-Life with it’s interesting AND worthwhile story line but it seems like they just aren’t trying anymore.

Also, the levels are either a linear as the presidents train of thought or as scatter-brained as, well… the presidents train of thought. While they could be praise for being “intuitive” I found myself not even second guessing where to go. There are no dead end, there are no misleading vents or tunnels. You go exactly where you’re supposed to, each and every time. I guess this could be good… but only if you get confused by big giant arrows that scream “this way moron!” A few, and only a few, of the levels deal with something new. These make use of a defensive strategy in which you must set up a perimeter and protect either yourself or your ship. Like I said, this only happens once or twice but its at least a break from “quick, kill the alien!”

I didn’t expect much in terms of a plot… and I got what I expected. I also thought the graphics were going to be fantastic… and I got what I expected. So, it’s a mixed bag in the end. If you have a few minutes to kill, give it a shot. If you’re looking for a worthwhile epic to play, go find a copy of Morrowind or NeverWinter Nights, heck, go find a bargain-bin copy of Half-Life. It’s not “bad” by any definition, it’s just what I expected: eye-candy. If you dislike eye-candy then you’re in for a disappointment. If not, have fun… for about 10 minutes.

Final Score – Well done but too short