Unreal II: The Awakening is a bit of a bizarre shooter. Not that it does anything
different from games in this genre, but the fact that it seems to stray from the
deathmatch/tournament style kind of gameplay that the series is usually known for. I haven't
played every Unreal game, but the ones I have played all seem to be more rooted in
multiplayer gameplay than anything else. So it seemed strange to me that this installment
actually wanted to have a story and a better single player experience, like Halo. In
fact, this game seems to desperatley be a lot like Halo, just not as great.
The single player design is decent enough to keep people satisifed for a few hours,
but it offers little variety and not much play time. But where as multiplayer is concerned,
this is where this installment of Unreal may put off fans of the franchise. The XMP
mode is really nothing more than a co-op mode, and those looking for the traditional
deathmatch events where it's basically "everyone for themselves" won't find them here.
What's even more disappointing is that there isn't really a way for a single player to
jump into an XMP match using AI bots, which is what many shooters lend the option of.
But perhaps it may be unfair to get stuck with an AI team member who is a complete idiot.
Plus, bots would be better in a deathmatch mode anyway, BUT still, the option of AI
bots should have been open. There is Xbox LIVE multiplayer support, but really I can't
imagine this being better than going Live in Unreal Championship.
It seems like I really don't have much to say in terms of gameplay, and that's honestly because
there's not much to say about it. If you've played many first person shooters, the
drill seems like standard practice here: shoot things that attack, fufill objectives and don't die.
It's pretty much like this stage after stage with hardly any variety. Now, you would say
"aren't all shooters like that?". Well, yes in some ways, but in games such as Halo and the newer
007 titles, there are also driving portions that break up the first person shooter gameplay.
Plus, everything here seems a bit dull, where as better shooters that seem to follow the formula
have a better pace or better objectives, stories, etc. Point is, the gameplay
is average, and fails at trying to become somewhat like Halo.
The visuals are kind of wavering between good and average. The textures look decent, but
look a bit washed out at times. The outdoor environments look nice (and sometimes gross, in the
case of Archeron), with a good deal of vegetation and even some life, but a good deal of the
game is spent in indoor areas, which tend to look the same time after time. Most of the
effects look pretty great, especially the flames from the flamethrower. Then there's the
character animations. By far in this generation of consoles, these are the WORST animations
I have ever seen for characters in a first-person shooter on ANY console. It makes claymation
look like something from Pixar. I would say that most of the enemies and any other life have about
three or four frames of animation to their name, it's pretty bad. Stuff from the N64 era is
better than this. Then the framerate can go from smooth to a slideshow if there happens to be too
much action on screen. Again, this is the first time in this generation of consoles
where I have seen the framerate slow so bad that it's basically like someone swithcing
Polaroids during the action, and it CAN get in the way. Now, there was only one instance
where this occured, and it was where I had to wait for a dropship to arrive and
fight off any attackers, but it really shouldn't happen anyway, especially on the Xbox.
The audio packs a less effective punch with some decent sound effects and explosions,
but some rather tired voice acting and music that basically runs on a 30-second loop. I
guess the audio aspect of the game was a secondary issue with the developer.
If you want a game that is like Halo, just do yourself a favor and go play Halo.
It's difficult for any developer to surpass the benchmarks and expectations that
game has established, and you might as well play the original design, rather than
one that seems inspired by it. Unreal II : The Awakening also kind of goes against it's
franchise by offering a wekaer multiplayer mode than the previous Unreal Championship for
the Xbox, and from what I understand, people buy the Unreal games FOR the multiplayer. It's nice
that the developers took the single-player aspects into consideration, but when it isn't
that strong to begin with, you need something else to fall back on, which would be multiplayer,
and that isn't too strong here, either. There were moments where I enjoyed just mindlessly shooting
things, but after about four or so hours, it felt like the same thing over and over again. So,
while Unreal II isn't an awful game, there's a hefty amount of letdowns that can only make
this as a rental rather than a purchase.