The original Unreal may well have been the first proper FPS that I ever played. This was back in the days when my computer had considerably less memory than your average goldfish and the only machine I had access to that would run it was the one that I had at work. Fortunately, at the time, I worked for a small ISP that employed me partly due to the fact that I was a gamer and therefore at least knew one end of a keyboard from the other, so I got to play it quite a bit but in very disjointed bursts and I never quite got into it. The point I’m trying to make is that when I heard about Unreal II I wasn’t exactly wetting myself with excitement at the prospect of getting my hands on it. In fact, if I’m to be totally honest I think that about the only reason that I bothered picking up a copy at all is because I was sick and tired of taking a beating in Falcon 4.0 and wanted a change. I’m really glad that I did.
The basic plot of Unreal II is that there are lots of bad guys out there and they need killing. OK. So maybe that’s not exactly the story as presented by Atari et al. but let’s face it we’re looking at a First Person Shooter here – in effect the genre description is the storyline: you’re looking at the game from the relatively safe end of a gun, you point the gun at the enemy, pull the trigger, and repeat until happy, or dead. That’s it really. I suppose out of fairness I should sing at least a few bars of the party line, so here goes (do-re-mi etc.). The plot is that you are a Terran Colonial Authority (TCA) Marshall (which carries a similar reputation to Kryten in the Red Dwarf episode ‘Gunmen Of The Apocalypse’) and it’s your job to keep the various corporate and tribal factions of the universe from each other’s throats. At the beginning of the game a strange alien artefact is found that has certain properties, which make it much sought after by the aforementioned various factions. Your task is to keep it, and the other six like it, out of everyone’s hands but your own. Oh, and to kill everything.