This classic FPS has been in my opinion undeservedly overshadowed by its contemporary Half-Life, yet it still has a lot to show.
First of all, the fairly long game has some of the best maps in the genre, built on large, open spaces with multiple interconnections. They are neither mazes like in the Build Engine games nor oversimplified corridors, always leaving the chance to approach each encounter in multiple ways.
The extremely fast combat is based on a wide array of alien (and “classic” human too, in the expansion) weapons, each providing two firing modes that can prove themselves more or less useful based on the enemy type and the situation.
Unlike other shooters Unreal presents a relatively small amount of enemies, but keeps the challenge high by giving them much more power than your average baddie: they are fast, smart, physically tough (without feeling like damage sponges) and each of their hit inflict serious wounds, so to vanquish them you will have to aim steadily with the most suited weapon while choosing carefully how you move trough the rooms. A bit of ambushes can come in handy, too, since health and armor do not regenerate and medkits and protection gear are scarce – just as it should be!
The poor Prisoner 849 (the protagonist) spend all his (or her) time trying to flee the planet where the detention spaceship he was being transported in has crashed, immediately discovering that his jailers have been attacked by the Skaarj, a race of space tyrants trying to enslave the universe.
Exploring the visually compelling strange world of Na Pali, Prisoner 849 will soon meet the Nali, natives of the planet that will aid him in his travels thinking he is the Messiah come to put an end to the “Sky Demons” regime of violence, abuse and slavery.
The narrative develops itself trough logs as in System Shock 2, an it is greatly enhanced by an astounding soundtrack coming from the same composers of the Crusader series and the original Deus Ex. If you are searching for a good old school shooter, I warmly recommend you to give Unreal a try: it is more than worth your time.
Also, be sure to use the high resolution textures from this site: they massively improve the graphic quality of the game while being completely faithful to the original! The Dig
After reading <span class="bold">andysheets1975's review</span>
, I decided to give this game a try since it was already on my “to play soon” list... and I must say I agree with their opinions.
While it is certainly a good adventure game, I think The Dig has both very convincing moments and very unconvincing ones.
The graphic department is absolutely great: I loved the design of the alien and suspiciously barren setting the stranded astronauts had to explore, and the animations are probably the smoother I have seen among the adventure games of the same time.
The brilliant and evocative ambient soundtrack also works wonders to enhance the experience.
Puzzles are based on figuring out an unknown technology step by step, and while most of them present fair and satisfying (other than visually compelling) challenges, I have to say that I stumbled upon two very bad cases of pixel hunting, where only after nearly twenty minutes I found out the item I was searching for was right under my nose and I remained stuck just because I simply wasn't able to see it.
I can directly quote andysheets1975 for what concerns the plot:
The writing is odd because the plot is quite good and flows very well, but the characterization wasn't entirely credible. (...) The dialogue is usually good, but attempts at injecting Lucasarts-style humorous one-liners mostly fall flat and break the tone in a bad way.
While the game gives a precise explanation for those that might seem nonsensical actions, sometimes the characters act indeed in an inexplicably odd and irrational way, leaving the player to wonder why they chose that course of action. Also, I think that in the very end the plot presented a significant inconsistency, but I cannot say more due to obvious spoilers. All in all The Dig is a good game, but since its quality often “fluctuates” from highs and lows rather than remaining constant I think its level is behind that of other Lucas Arts titles or several more recent adventure games similar in style, like Wadjet Eye's games.