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Thursday, March 29, 2001

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Unreal II Details Emerge
8:55 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

As E3 approaches, details are finally beginning to emerge about Legend Entertainment and Epic's next project: the long-awaited Unreal II. The first images and movies of this game (and the updated Unreal engine) caused many an involuntary gasp of awe, and fans of the original are getting psyched up about going toe-to-toe with the Skarrj once again. There is only one detail missing from the previews posted by Gamespot UK and 3D Action Planet -- a confirmation that there will be a Mac OS version of this title. However, considering that this game is built on an engine core that has already been ported to the Mac OS and was quite popular as both Unreal and Unreal Tournament, we think that a Mac version of Unreal 2 -- perhaps even a simultaneous release -- is inevitable.

"Keeping it Unreal" is GameSpot UK's preview article, and while it features no new screen shots it does expand on the details released so far with new information about the storyline, multiplayer details and a preliminary list of weapons in your arsenal. They note that Unreal II "will attempt to bridge the gap between Half-Life and Quake 3 Arena" by including not only an amazing, complex and dynamic solo adventure but also top-notch multiplayer modes and arenas. The report also uncovers some amazing technical details behind the revamped game engine, that hint at what we can expect:

Unfortunately, for a full explanation of exactly why Unreal II could be one of the best games ever, it's necessary to crack the spine of that Glossary of Technobabble gathering dust on your bookshelf. Mike Verdu from Legend Entertainment, the studio responsible for Unreal II, explained exactly what the pumped-up engine has to offer. "We can now build stunning outdoor landscapes to go with the beautiful interior environments that have long been the strength of the Unreal engine. And we can build interior environments, characters and in-game objects that have ten times more polygons than the old engine could handle." If you caught the technical demo doing the rounds last year, you'll know exactly what Verdu is talking about, especially in terms of the outdoor environments which look rock-solid and seem to stretch out for miles and miles. The advanced particle system employed by the engine means that Unreal II will blow smoke, rage fire, shatter glass, rumple cloth, flap hair and spew-up weather effects with a degree of realism exceeding anything seen on any format over the last year. The engine also promises "improved mesh-rendering" (the creation of a layer of thousands of polygons into a layer of skin that can be drawn at differing levels of complexity depending upon your distance from it), and though this won't mean much to the majority of gamers in practical terms, once you've seen the improvements it makes to the facial animation of the characters, you'll understand why we're shouting about it. Finally, Legend has created a new skeletal system for animating characters, meaning that complex movements for each and every figure can be calculated with frightening speed.
Technobabble indeed. Legend Entertainment created a game known as Wheel of Time based on the Robert Jordan fantasy series; while it didn't exactly sail off the shelves, those who discovered it praised the unusual game for its complexity, stunning level design and overall atmosphere. With a powerful engine like this in their hands, we can't wait to see what Legend comes up with next.

3DActionPlanet's approach is slightly more direct, with quick summaries of what is known so far. Here is their quick synopsis of the plot:

In Unreal II, players will take on the role of a galactic law enforcer, traveling about a sector of space an aging but reliable decommissioned military escort vessel called the Atlantis. All is well until an interstellar war is kicked off, and you are forced to enact your duties as lawman by protecting the innocent inhabitants of nearby planets, while at the same time investigating the cause of the conflict.

Also onboard the ship will be your character's three-man (and woman) support staff: Ne'ban, the alien pilot; Isaak, the handyman engineer; and Aida, the tantalizing intelligence officer. Each of the three supporting characters will be interacting with your character throughout the game, but a great deal of emphasis will be placed on the relationship with Aida, who will be acting as the general go-to for mission briefings, story progression, and up to date information.

Since the single player game is mission driven (26 levels comprising 13 total missions), there will be frequent pit-stops back to the Atlantis to stock up, research any new equipment picked up, and receive your next mission goals. Players will be able to move freely about the vessel.

As you can see, Unreal II will not be a simple "solo" game with only human corpses lying about; many of the missions will requite coordinating with other characters, and some of them might even be (gasp!) non-combat objectives. The 3DAP report also includes the obligatory drooling about the new Unreal engine tech, as well as expanding the details about multiplayer combat. Taking a lesson from Team Fortress, players of Unreal II deathmatches will be able to choose from three player classes and participate in complex CTF and Assault-style battles.

While this game won't be complete until the end of this year, we have a suspicion that it will be worth waiting for. We'll continue to dig up details on a possible Mac OS version of the title; in the meantime check out both of these previews, especially the Unreal II wallpapers included at the end of the GameSpot UK report.

Unreal II Web Site
GameSpot UK's Keeping It Unreal
First Look at Unreal II at 3DActionPlanet

Other Mac Games News for Thursday, March 29, 2001

Marathon: Resurrection Updates1:52 PM
Hitchhiker's Guide 3D Title In Development1:01 PM
Majesty Expansion Units Previewed10:45 AM
Applelinks Reveals Fly II Instrument Details10:06 AM
New, High-Rez Red Faction Trailers10:01 AM
Update on ATI Technologies9:39 AM
GameSpot Previews Neverwinter Nights9:34 AM
e.p.i.c. To Port TopWare Title "Knights and Merchants"9:20 AM
Unreal II Details Emerge8:55 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, March 29, 2001 on one page

Mac Games News for Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Mac Escape from Monkey Island is Gold4:50 PM
Rune Expansion Set Goes Gold3:37 PM
"Carbon" Games Abound on MGF1:04 PM
EuroGamer Previews Diablo II Expansion Set10:51 AM
Yet Another Tropico Interview10:26 AM
More Deux Ex Multiplayer Maps, Mods9:35 AM
Tony Hawk 2 Status, New Fan Site9:14 AM
Unreal Tournament: GotY On Shelves8:58 AM
Baldur's Gate Multiplayer Test, OS X Info8:07 AM
Aleph One OS X Release Available8:01 AM
Q3 Rocket Arena Issues6:00 AM
Vortex NG Status Update6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, March 28, 2001 on one page

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