Before I get to the game itself, I?d like to teach every reader a quick lesson. Don?t freak out, this isn?t like a school lecture, but its one of those life lessons that usually causes pain in order to learn said lesson. The good news is that I am going to teach you the same lesson and you won?t feel any pain (and believe me it hurt like a swift boot right in the wrong part of town). Anyway, here is the story. I go into my local video game store (or my dealer as us addicts refer to them as) and I inquire about a copy of Unreal II, which had been released the previous day. The clerk informed me that he had ?good? news. ?We actually have a used copy,? he tells me. Nothing is better then getting a new game for cheap, so I told him that I?d take it. It was then that I saw that the used copy he had talked about had several twin siblings living in the used game area?eight to be exact. Eight used copies of a game that had come out less then twenty-four hours ago. DANGER, WILL ROBINSON, DANGER! Only thing that kept me from telling the clerk ?no thanks? was the fact that I had committed to doing this review, so I took it. Anyone else who finds themselves in that situation should seriously reconsider their purchase. Lesson ends.
Nonetheless, I ventured on. Okay, here comes the first load screen. It?s?still loading. We continue to load. I feel my life slipping away. Finally, after close to a minute I get to hit the start button and select what game I want to play and the difficulty level. Oh boy, time for some more loading. Another minute has past, and we arrive at the first cut scene. This is going to be a very long night.
Finally, I have control. If you?ve ever played a first person shooter on the Xbox before, then the controls will seem very familiar. First thing you need to do is make your way to the practice facility for the usual button training. On the way there I discovered the first thing I liked about this game: you can fall from very high places. What is so great about this? After the fall, the screen will focus above your character that appears to try to crawl away before the reality that he has just fallen from a twenty story opening sets in. You don?t actually see him expire, but it is pretty funny to think that after falling such a distance someone would not only still be breathing, but would try to crawl away. I know that if I survived such a fall, I?d just lay there and wait for the medics or something.
Once my character had reached the training facility, I still had some faith that things could turn around. After going through basic training, it was time to fight the teacher. As I entered the room and ran towards the teacher with guns blazing, my biggest fear about the game manifested: the frame rate problems from the first Unreal game had returned with a vengeance. Along with that, the graphics in fight mode left much to be desired. Someone in the forums wrote about ?dummied down graphics? to describe this game. That, my friends, is the understatement of the year (so far). Finally, training is over and it is time to put the hurt on some bad guys?after some more really long load times.
So let?s take a brief look at all the aspects of the game. Graphically speaking, this title is just not taking advantage of the Xbox?s power. Scenery shots look good, but you can really see the downfalls when you get up close and personal with a band of villains. Like I said earlier, I haven?t played the PC version, but I hope for the sake of sales, the game looks a whole lot better. Sound like?history class in high school. The voices are some of the most dull, emotionless and mind-numbing in recent gaming history. I totally blame this bland, flavorless soundtrack for the minute long naps I took during game play. Speaking of pain, whoever wrote this script really needs to make a public apology. Clich? piled on clich? is the only way to describe this story. I?m not even sure why they even bothered with a story to begin with. I think everyone would have just accepted the words ?Go Shoot Bad Guys? appearing at the beginning and that being the end of it. Finally, add more weapons and some more maps to the Live mode to make this a competitor in the war of FPS games. Perhaps this isn?t such a good buy for experienced FPS players, but Unreal II could act as a learning tool for those who have never played a FPS before and want to know what it?s all about. The training is some of the most user friendly out there and the player won?t be bombarded with countless enemies with near genius A.I. So if you, or someone you know, is looking to ease your way into the world of FPS gaming, then check out Unreal II for Xbox.