字幕表 動画を再生する 英語字幕をプリント Time to make myself feel old with a retrospective on a PC game from my youth! This is Unreal, developed by Epic MegaGames in collaboration with Digital Extremes and published by GT Interactive on May 22, 1998. Man, 1998 was how long ago? Ugh, that last fact still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. Anyway, when it released decades ago Unreal was an absolutely monumental title for a multitude of reasons, but one of the easiest ones to point out was its graphical prowess. “Unreal! Yes, this is an actual PC game screenshot.” Hehe. And dude, that really was mind-boggling for February of 1997 when Next Gen Magazine printed this. Keep in mind that at the time of this world reveal magazine article, id Software’s Quake was only eight months old, so going from characters that looked like this to *this* was a notable improvement! Furthermore, as a fan of titles like Epic Pinball and Jazz Jackrabbit, seeing developers I was familiar with like James Schmalz and Cliff Bleszinski putting together ‘the most advanced 3D shooter ever made’ only a few years after developing those 2D DOS games? That was a bit surreal. Or, unreal, if you will. [boooooo] Heck when Unreal finally released, Jazz Jackrabbit 2 had only come out two weeks prior. So seeing both a silky smooth 2D platformer and a silky smooth 3D-accelerated FPS arriving under the same banner within the same month was just like... pschrrt, what, how?! And even with Unreal arriving just five months after Quake II’s release, it still felt like a generational leap in PC gaming graphics, and the box tried to make that abundantly clear. Other first-person shooters often covered their package in logos and artwork providing some abstract representation of the game, but Unreal went balls-out from the start, plastering embossed renders of its 3D models right on the cover and including a square cut-out showing off one of four screenshots. And it was all topped off with quotes like “The best looking game of all time.” “The future of gaming.” And, “Rest in peace Quake II.” The hyperbole continued around back as well, with copious screenshots and descriptions cramming in every bit of self-congratulating marketing copy they could. It seems a bit pompous in hindsight, but at the time they truly had earned the right to brag about their tech so hey, why not. And if you needed any more confirmation of how long ago 1998 actually was, checkout the list of products it’s optimized for. Not a single one of those APIs, instruction sets, or multiplayer networks exist anymore, at least not in the form they did back then. Sad. Inside the box you get a bit of an unusual cardboard insert, one that’s built to hold the jewel case all snug so the cover screenshot is visible on the front of the box. And mine is cover variant number 2 of 4. And inside you get the game on a single CD-ROM, as well as a booklet that contains not the manual, but even more screenshots! As well as a merchandise catalog letting you know all the cool Unreal stuff that I’m one vulnerable late night away from irresponsibly buying on eBay. And yep, there was also a Macintosh version of the game ported by Westlake Interactive, which was set to release in June of ‘98 but didn’t actually show up until a year later. For that matter, there was also going to be a PlayStation and a Nintendo 64 version of Unreal, with none other than DMA Design aka Rockstar North working on porting the latter to the 64DD system, but both were canceled because reasons. Back to the box though, where you also get this little catalog for GT Interactive’s offerings for Spring of 1998, including existing releases like Unreal and upcoming releases like Duke Nukem Forever. This “long-awaited sequel” is coming in Winter of 1998, huh? Mm, ‘dates are subject to change’ indeed. Finally, you also get an instruction manual, or prisoner transportation log, with over 30 black and white pages of information covering everything from the story, to the gameplay, to the ins and outs of the options menus and troubleshooting. And then these ads in the back are great as well. You could win a BMW for signing up to AT&T Worldnet apparently. And check out that Falcon Northwest Mach V, wonder if anyone still has one of those beasts lying around? And it seems the infamous Mad Catz Panther XL controller was “officially endorsed by the creators of Unreal?” [somewhat irksome rubbery creaking noises] Huh. Suffice to say I will be sticking to a mouse and keyboard for the rest of this video. Once you’ve got Unreal installed and your graphics card properly configured it’s time to dive into the most-anticipated PC gaming--aww. Welp. This is not an uncommon sight when it comes to the launch version of Unreal, bugs and crashes are a fact of life. And Epic knew it, going so far as to include this slip of paper in the box calling for their “hardcore” gaming audience to please forgive them in advance because making games is hard and Unreal is full of bugs so please be sure to download the latest updates as soon as possible.” I can think of a few companies who should still be including messages like this but anyway. Thankfully there are patches for just about every configuration of PC imaginable, so once it’s working you’re greeted with the legendary Unreal castle flyby demo. [flyby demo commences triumphantly] [classy Alexander Brandon theme plays] Augh, dude, yes! Every time I start this game up and I hear that MOD music playing, composed by Alexander Brandon and Michiel van den Bos, in combination with those glossy 3D surfaces flying by? Brings me right back to the first time I saw it running. It was just me and my Compaq than ran Windows 98SE, sitting there in awe at what was happening on my screen. I kept thinking, “my computer can do THIS?!” Granted, I mean, I had upgraded it with a 16MB Voodoo3 card in order to make it happen so I knew it technically could. But knowing and seeing were two different things, and seeing this in the late ‘90s running on your computer was practically a religious epiphany to a PC gaming geek. But impressive visuals can only carry a game so far and Unreal is much more than a tech demo, so let’s get to it starting with the main menu. And dang, I had completely forgotten this is what the UI looked like originally, with no mouse cursor and a chunky green typeface. Anyway, let’s begin with the single player campaign and its offerings of four difficulty levels and a variety of character models to choose from. What you pick out here is pretty inconsequential to the campaign since you play a silent protagonist in a first-person perspective, but I appreciate the gesture regardless. And now, it’s time to wake up. [electrical buzzing, alarm blaring] [AI voice: “Prisoner 849 escaping!”] You play an unnamed soul known only as Prisoner 849, who awakes in a prison cell to pure chaos aboard a transport vessel called the Vortex Rikers. You quickly find a universal translator tablet lying on the ground and get to work navigating the crumbling ship, accompanied only by the screams of unseen crew members enduring unseen horrors. [screams, explosions, eerie ambiance] And wow did this introduction make an impact back then, I had never played an FPS with such a focus on environmental storytelling like this before. You’re just thrust into this lonely but chaotic situation, with no idea what went wrong and very little to go on except the written logs of dead crew members and the level design itself to fill in the gaps. Now this kind of storytelling in first-person is has been done to death nowadays, but keep in mind this was before Half-Life had come out, so experiencing this in ‘98 was a treat! In hindsight though, there’s a definite similarity to System Shock here with its dark, dilapidated space station and its focus on picking up story pieces as you go. But I wasn’t aware of that game at the time so this was an entirely fresh experience to me. And, unlike System Shock, Unreal is a first-person shooter above all else and it’s not long before you find a weapon, some ammo, and some beefy alien baddies for target practice. [soothing sounds of alien target practice commence] And while you’ll be seeing these same dudes repeatedly throughout the game, the way they’re introduced one by one is just awesome. Like, the first time a Skaarj shows up? Fantastic! [more eerie ambiance.] [alarms, shooting] Yeah that’s another thing, Unreal makes heavy use of darkness throughout the campaign, no doubt to show off its dynamic lighting capabilities. So you’re frequently having to make use of flares to light your way, at least until you find any of the various flashlights later on. But all of these lighting sources are temporary, with the flares exploding after a short time and flashlights running out of battery life. Ah well, at least you can use a weapon and a light at the same time, so you’re not doomed to shuffle between the two. However, as creepy and atmospheric as these darker levels can be, personally, Unreal really feels like *Unreal* to me in the outdoor environments. Say hello to the planet of Na Pali. [critterschirp, wind blows, serene music plays] This moment is perhaps the most memorable one in the game for me, even after all these years/ Where you first step off the crashed ship and out into this lush, alien world. The place was not only massive but beautiful, with strange creatures flying around, a village off in the distance, weird rabbit things hopping by begging to be shot, and the sound of a waterfall in the distance while more of that awesome tracker music plays. [Music plays over waterfall sounds. Then, he ded.] Just saying the word “unreal” brings environments like this to mind. They’re pretty to look at yet isolating to exist within, containing just enough detail and wide open space to entice you to explore further without overwhelming you at the same time. And this kind of lower polygon count geometry? I just find it ridiculously charming at this point. I mean it’s like, “Hey look! These platforms you can walk across? It’s an elongated rectangle, have fun!” A good chunk of your story remains a pretty straightforward, chill experience really, with no objective markers or lists of things to do getting in the way of your wandering and interacting with the world. Most of this interaction takes the form of bumping into doors, switches, machines, and contraptions to make them do their thing. Taking a cue from Quake, there is no interaction key, you just kinda straddle an object for a second until it does what you want. But there are some physical puzzles as well, like moving a box here and there so you can jump on top to reach a higher ledge, or shooting at objects to activate them or destroy part of them to create a new platform, or blowing up walls and surfaces to reveal a pathway or hidden room. There are also friendly NPCs, known as the Nali, that will help you out if you have enough patience to keep them alive, opening up alternate routes or secret chambers of weaponry and power-ups. Of course, the less amiable aliens around do not want that to happen and will make a bee-line to try and kill them before they can help you so being quick and precise with your guns is a must. Speaking of armaments, there are ten guns in the original Unreal, many of which will be quite familiar to you if you’ve played the later games in the franchise. The first gun you receive and the most basic of them is the dispersion pistol, a low-power energy gun that recharges over time and is most likely going to be used for shooting open objects like crates and barrels. But also has the unique ability to be upgraded several times by picking up boosters throughout the game. Then you have the Automag, which is a hitscan pistol that’s incredibly accurate but rather slow in terms of firing rate, yet also has a sideways “gangsta” mode where you shoot way faster for some reason, at the expense of a loss in accuracy. Then there’s the Stinger which is a rapid-fire chaingun type of thing, except it shoots tarydium shards in either a straight line or a slow but effective spread-shot. Then there’s the GES BioRifle, which is a little bit unusual in that it shoots blobs of toxic waste in various sizes. Next up is the ASMD Shock Rifle, which is a fantastically useful weapon, shooting powerful beams in a straight line from any distance, as well as a secondary fire that shoots out a pulsating energy ball which can then be shot with the other beam to make an even larger explosion. Then there’s the minigun, which works a lot like the Stinger except it uses the same ammo as the Automag and its secondary mode fires at a different rate. Next is the oddly-named Eightball Launcher, which is a rocket launcher with six barrels, not eight. Apparently it’s a vestigial name from earlier in development, but whatever man it’s awesome. You can shoot individual rockets, or you can hold down fire to queue up to six of them in a horizontal pattern. Or use the alt fire to toss rockets in a general direction like grenades and bounce them off surfaces, or hold down both buttons to send a cluster of rockets in a small group. Just a fantastic gun, but even better in my opinion is the Flak Cannon. Somewhat like the Stinger’s alt fire mode, except here you have heated shrapnel that bounces everywhere and shreds enemies to pieces, as well as a shell launcher that’s fantastic for doing lots of longer-range damage if you’re skilled enough. After this is the Razorjack, which is quite powerful but often causes more trouble than it’s worth seeing as it shoots spinning blades that bounce all over the place and can easily lop off the heads of anyone in its path, including you. And it also has a rather gangster secondary sideways firing mode because you had to make that weapon “cool” somehow. And then finally there is the sniper rifle, easily one of my favorites in this and every other Unreal title. It’s a powerful, armor-piercing, hitscan weapon that disconnects heads from torsos in spectacular fashion, and is a pleasure to use in Unreal’s massive environments when you zoom in. Although it just kind of decreases the FOV to make zooming happen, there’s no scope overlay or anything, but it works and it’s fun. As memorable and useful as these weapons are though, I found the power-ups to be pretty standard. You pick these up and store them in your inventory to use whenever you need, things like the aforementioned translator, flares, and lights. You also get useful stuff like scuba gear, jump boots, invisibility, and a single-use force field. But probably the most useful one is the amplifier, which has nothing to do with your hi-fi setup and everything to do with making your weapons more powerful when activated. There’s also the Nali Fruit Seed, one of the more creative health items I’ve seen. Most of the time you’re just picking up medkits and such off the ground, but every so often you’ll see a seed which can activated by planting it and waiting for it to grow. Seriously. You’ll find these out in the world too, already grown. But when you plant one the longer you wait, the more health you’ll get from the plant, up to 30 health points. It’s weird and inconvenient, but that’s neat. And you will want all the seeds and health items you can get because Unreal does not always take it easy on you, especially on higher difficulties as you would imagine. I enjoy how almost all of the power-ups and weapons you find aren’t yours alone and will inevitably be used against you. And almost all of the game’s 20-something enemies are quite skilled in dodging and switching up their attacks, so it can often be a serious challenge to get a bead on them depending on what you have at your disposal and what exactly is attacking.