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Incline Unreal Evolution Mod: Now Released

Discussion in 'General Gaming' started by Ash, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. Lemming42 Arcane

    Lemming42
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    :lol: Good idea, it's the only way to deal with this place most of the time.
     
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  2. Unreal Savant

    Unreal
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    Graverobbers are also FAKE NEWS made by turdeologists to justify their entirely made-up theories, just like the blocky mazes that barely have a significant presence in any of these games. ‘Look at me, I can make my own maps too! I'm a modder and I'm sooo cool. Here, let me insert it at the entrance to a boss fight so it can disrupt the game because my crappy new area is just that special and important.’ Yes, so faithful to the source material aren't you. Tell me all about how what matters most in Doom is the computer maze in E1M2 and not the other 98% of the game which is made up of irregular shapes. Those games each have maybe three ‘blocky mazes’ at most, and they are all still superior in pretty much every way. (By the way, nice job replacing Duke with Blood. I guess it didn't help support your retarded argument, right.)

    So what I see as a worse version of a filler part of a filler level in Marathon is actually a work of genius on par with The Plutonia Experiment. Spiders? Totally as cool and threatening as Archviles. Darkness? Crushers? Totally not trivial at all, also they are as cool and funny as Archviles. The layout? It's fucking art. They should hang that on the wall in the Archvile museum, it's fantastic. Never mind the fact that Archvile maze was more complicated, had a fun gimmick, and perfectly fit within the rest of the game. I mean, I wouldn't know, I only played it on UV with pistol starts, so obviously I'm not qualified to talk about it lol.

    Like, dude, games are just numbers and shit, they are designed, first and foremost, to be spreadsheets. Wolfenstein 3D is the greatest FPS ever made!
     
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  3. Ash Arcane

    Ash
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    https://gnd-tech.com/2020/08/unreal-gold-objectively-one-of-the-greatest-fps-games-ever-made/

    Also this bit of :obviously:

    Edit: further prestige:

     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
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  4. Unreal Savant

    Unreal
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    Some try-hard shill who barely ever played the game before trying your mod clearly knows what he's talking about. 11/10 in every category best gaem evar!!! turok turok turok turok turok
     
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  5. HighIQFan Barely Literate

    HighIQFan
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    Since Ash is a rather unstable, yet genius character, I had seen it fit to speak on his behalf to any inflamed queries regarding his mods.

    So to answer your comment, the Unreal Evolution mod for Unreal is enjoyable whether one had played through vanilla Unreal or not. I myself have played through vanilla Unreal at least once and fiddled many times since nearly 20 years ago. Yet the mod is an overall improvement of the original in mostly all regards. The enthusiasm of the mentioned reviewer should not come as a surprise and ought not be ridiculed so, as almost any fan of Unreal would prefer using the mod, just like many Deus Ex users prefer the GMDX mod. It is only natural for someone who liked the original Unreal to be enthusiastic about a patch/mod that enhances the original game so seamlessly.

    Yet I gather you simply personally do not like these mods. However, do not be surprised that many others do. These patches/mods enhance their respective games in a way that leaves all the original atmosphere/goodness intact while only enhancing them in some regards (not to mention bugfixing). More of the good is preferred by most. I suspect you are either a purist who exclusively enjoys playing games in 100% vanilla form, or just hates whatever mods/patches others create for games and always sees the worst of them? Or was there something else in particular you wanted to criticize in Unreal Evolution? I would love to address your constructive criticism. I really like Unreal Evolution myself and am in a middle of a playthrough, but we can always agree to disagree.
     
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  6. Unreal Savant

    Unreal
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    The changes weren't much fun in and of themselves, and they distract from the original game more than they improve it. Ash is just a modder who thinks he's cooler than he is, and you're just a plant. It's true I may be a ‘purist’, but that's because I understand what things actually are, unlike modders who can't help themselves and don't know whether their additions are appropriate or not. At the very least I am completely against treating any mod aside from the most minimal as a replacement for the original. Disagree to agree.

    The problems with that review weren't necessarily specific to the mod, though. He praised everything about the game as being the best, almost like it's the only good game he's ever played. Just look at this:

    No, Unreal is not ‘a very fast paced FPS’, it's not better than Doom or Half-Life, and the repeated comparisons to Serious Sam and Painkiller and Doom 2016 and especially Turok are obvious signs this guy doesn't really know what he's talking about. Being passionate is just a form of being stupid, especially when you have little experience. I wouldn't praise even my most favourite game in such a way.
     
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  7. Ash Arcane

    Ash
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    Perhaps. Yet you're a late teen furry still obsessed with pokemon that shouldn't be on the internet without your mommies supervision. You're absolutely no authority or measure of what is good or not.

    Hey thank fuck you.

    ...OK sure, mad genius it is.
     
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  8. Unreal Savant

    Unreal
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    Cool story bro. Did your ego come up with that one?
     
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  9. Lyric Suite Converting to Islam

    Lyric Suite
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    This mod pissed off the game so much it made an account here just to argue with its creator.
     
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  10. HighIQFan Barely Literate

    HighIQFan
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    That is a bit irrelevant, however, if his work is good. Besides even if he was arrogant about his work - did his arrogance hurt someone/something in any way?
    As someone who played his mods several times, and vanilla versions of those games, I would always prefer his modded versions. They are like unofficial enhanced editions.
    I think it would be more constructive if you said specifically what you do not like in his mod if you have such criticisms.

    That is your take on it. Most players enjoy the mod.
    Feel free to share the specific parts you did not find to be 'fun' so we can discuss it.
    What was distracting from the original game btw? IMO the mod is 110% true to original, as in, it perhaps only fleshes out some good parts of it without disturbing its vanilla idea and design a bit. What made you think otherwise?

    What things actually are?
    So no mods are good?
    Any touching of the game after it is made is ruining it?
    What do you think about other unofficial patches-enhancements for games like VTM or Empire Earth2 or other? I'm curious.

    I agree with you. The reviewer may have went a little overboard there. However, it should also be noted that reviews are inherently at least somewhat subjective. It is okay for a reviewer to think these things. Even to think that it is fast paced is okay in my opinion. Sure there are more neurotic FPS games out there but Unreal may subjectively feel very fast paced game in certain ways. For example fast paced in changing scenery, or in sheer content in the game from artistic point of view, or the intensity the battles provoke. So the reviewer is within adequacy to say those things. Saying the game is better than Doom and Half Life is perhaps a little retarded but it is his opinion, it's okay. Also not sure what you meant by saying he doesn't understand anything just because he played other games. Does playing other games make you unable to understand Unreal?
    Well that's your philosophy. I think it is okay for people to enjoy video games and be passionate about them. And there is a lot to be passionate about with Unreal and Unreal Evolution.
     
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  11. Unreal Savant

    Unreal
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    I already posted about it on the previous pages.

    I don't know about Empire Earth 2, and only played Bloodlines without mods, but the latter's mod seem like too much. It might be interesting for what it is, but again, I wouldn't consider it as a proper replacement. In the case of Unreal Evolution, it was only redundant and unnecessary at best.

    If you're really so high IQ, why do you believe that ‘everything is subjective’? Makes you think.
     
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  12. UserNamer Cipher

    UserNamer
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    What's up with black Mesa? I think black mesa's gameplay is so bad in its own right and so incredibly worse than the original that they deserve all the hate they can get. Something definitely stupid in how they designed the game, feels like an half assed attempt at tactical realism (for a remake of a game about a scientist in a power armor blowing up armies of aliens and elite troops), one of the most boring gameplay ever designed
     
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  13. Sjukob Arcane

    Sjukob
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    Ash
    I didn't want to post in this topic until I was done with the mod, but it appears I can't progress further. What do I do here? Does it work as intended?
     
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  14. Ash Arcane

    Ash
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    Possibly bugged. Try jumping at the moment of propulsion for additional velocity.
     
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  15. Sjukob Arcane

    Sjukob
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    Well, that was pretty good. At first I played up until the moment you enter the skaarj ship on the very hard difficulty, but it was too easy for me, so I restarted on hardcore.
    [​IMG]

    I will provide a detailed feedback after I finish Return to Na Pali. For now I can mention some technical things:
    • You can't map side mouse buttons;
    • Inventory items are pretty neat and it's nice that you've added a dedicated button for the hand grenades, but can you do it for every item in the game or at least for amplifier, shield, flare and flashlight? I find that juggling stuff during combat takes way too much time. It's also pretty annoying to have to scroll through everything when you simply want to light up the way;
    • I have no idea if this can be fixed, but I would appreciate it if you could do it;
    • I would strongly recommend disabling anti-cheat entirely, you never know when somebody might encounter a bug. As for the fair play and whatnot, it should be on the player's conscience;
    • Will you ever add scalable HUD?

    I think you are not giving Unreal enough credit. Aside from their obvious strong sides build engine games have primitive, hitscanner infested combat that really drags them down a lot. You know, before playing Unreal I thought that for the single player there were no better FPS games than Doom and Quake made. Now I think that I should also add Unreal to the list.
     
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  16. Ash Arcane

    Ash
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    Play vanilla. Unreal is a definite classic but not on their level for numerous reasons. Reasons which I consciously aimed to address with this mod.

    For example, the combat:

    -Originally combat was almost always you vs up to say three-four enemies at most in any given moment, and furthermore you typically only fought one enemy type at a time: a group of slith. a group of skaarj. a group of brutes. In Unreal Evolution I aimed to add more diverse encounters, to the point that I had to make infighting between enemy types a randomized chance (like Doom) rather than guaranteed to happen at the first instance of friendly fire. This approach is important because it forces you to manage and engage diverse AI intelligence simultaneously, say a skarrj on the ground and a gasbag in the air (complete with new AI behaviors I added also), rather than engaging them one at a time. Unreal Evolution doesn't drastically change the numbers and encounters, for example I aimed to stay true to the lore so I couldn't add skaarj to the mercenary ship and there's only say a +30% increase in numbers per level on average, but it's enough to really make encounters more dynamic and engaging.
    -The bosses were mostly terrible. They've all been improved (though at least one is still terrible, but I think I nailed the others).
    -Some enemies dodged beyond excess, such as gasbags. This all but forced you to use hitscan weaponry in many instances and it was not fun. I'm not kidding. Imagine cacodemons or scrags but every time you fired a rocket or nail barrage their way they matrix dodged out the way and you all but have to switch to the shotgun.
    -Unreal was renowned for its AI intelligence. However the only actual smart and diverse AI was skaarj. Other enemy types were extremely simple. This is still the case, but all the other enemy types now have some minor tweaks and a new attack or two which makes them more interesting to fight. One of my favorite examples of the incline here is the Manta (flying creature first seen on NyLeve). Originally it was this weird slow bullet sponge that took like 8 shots to down. It pretty much never hurt you because it was just too slow, so it just wasted your time standing there shooting it while it sponges rather a lot. Now it takes only three shots, but moves a lot faster and is actually a threat, notably more engaging to fight.

    Here is the code:

    Code:
     else if (Other.Class==class'Manta')
        {
            if (Other.IsA('Manta'))
            {
               Manta(Other).Health = 25;
               Manta(Other).AirSpeed*=1.5;
               Manta(Other).AccelRate*=1.5;
            }
            return true;
        }
    
    That's it. Such a simple change that completely changes how manta behave, for the better. I didn't have to add semi-complicated new attack routines as I did with other enemies.

    -And of course the weapons themselves. Excellent but had some flaws. The eightball was not quite so useful (reasons outlined in my design concepts and goals posted prior), some fire modes were borderline useless such as stinger alt, which is much improved (+1 projectile fired, more accurate, has knockback), there was some bugs (pistol weapon swap delay, minigun audio cutoff), some weapons were quite unsatisfying to use.
    -Lastly, the difficulty. Vanilla was simply not challenging enough. 227i patch attempted to address this by three main things: enemy health increase, enemy damage dealt increase, enemy projectile speed increase. This resulted in the most degenerate and frustrating quicksave/load spam combat you will ever witness and not at all ideal. I removed 90% of what they did, instead the new hardcore mode has more enemies that only appear in it, among a bunch of other rules.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
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  17. Ash Arcane

    Ash
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    Oh and the dodging. It was useless vanilla and I cannot stress how much it has been improved, and if you're not using it (with dedicated dodge key and double click disabled) then you're playing the game wrong.

    Looking forward to your feedback on RTNP. I didn't market this mod barely at all so not many have played it. even less have played RTNP Evolution. In reality this mod deserves almost as much love and attention that GMDX got, but the marketing is so lacking that if one were to look into the mod it's not even clear what it actually does (in detail). Meh. So thanks for giving it a shot despite that + some brainlet that knows nothing about it ranting nonsense ITT.

    also I stealth-updated the download to fix that bug you encountered.
     
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  18. Unreal Savant

    Unreal
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    can't add skaarj to the mercenary ship but can add krall and gasbags to the skaarj ship, very cool story bro

    dodge-scumming is a sin! you should play fpses without dodging...

    :smug:

    hey ash, i was replaying quake on nightmare recently and noticed the early levels didnt have any spawns or vores, plz fix
     
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  19. Sjukob Arcane

    Sjukob
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    It's alright, sometimes the games need a bit of nudge to really get onto their spires and shine. Besides, that wouldn't have been possible without solid foundation, look at the other games that just can't be fixed no matter how many mods you install for them (TES series for example) and I'm not judging Doom and Quake based on their vanilla content alone.


    I know I've said that I didn't want to provide feedback until I was done with Return to Na Pali, but there was on thing that seemed really shitty to me and now I want to vent.

    The battle with the marines during "Inside UMS Prometheus" is the worst fucking thing I've seen so far. It's so drastically different from anything I've experienced, there's nothing else in the game that resembles this. I was going to complain about mercenaries having hitscan attacks (that's not the only issue I have with them), but at least that attack is inaccurate and does low damage, then the marines show up kicking at the door: "Hey son, the bullshit squad has arrived!". I hope I don't have to explain why having fast enemies with accurate hitscan attack, that they spam endlessly, in the game where everything attacks with either projectiles or melee is just outright fucking terrible. And they attack in groups, big groups by Unreal merits, I think you can fight up to 7 of them at once, due to stamina limit I simply can't dodge all the shit they throw at me. Also, their explosives heavily obscure vision even if I'm not getting hit, so not only am I getting raped by their hitscanners where every hit shakes the screen and makes it blink red, but I'm also blinded by all the garbage that explodes everywhere. And finally, you clearly didn't give save point placement enough thought, why do I have to deal with 4 mercenaries, that feel obligated to use invulnerability mode to waste more of my time, before fighting the marines each time I die?! Why didn't you place a save point right before the start of the battle with the marines?

    After dying 4 or 5 times I started to think that there should be a way to cheese this shit, because there's no way to compete with those fucks out in the open. And surely I found something, you just have to stay inside the ship, peek around the corners and kill them one by one, prefferably with weapons that deal good damage in a single hit, like rocket launcher or ASMD. It helps that AI alert state resets very quickly in this game (I've seen brutes fall asleep when I was hiding behind corners from their rockets) so it's not even hard to snipe them out with rockets. Literally :popamole:, just brilliant game design.
     
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  20. Ash Arcane

    Ash
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    heh, they have been notably nerfed, but more can exist at once if you're not quick putting down the first wave. vanilla their DPS was so high they put you down in about a second of sustained fire.
    cheesing them in a non-boring, non-frustrating way is taking the high ground advantage, be it climbing outside the command windows, or the raised area starboard side. Not sure if that is actually cheesing or just smart battle tactics though.

    Keep in mind RTNP has a reputation for being a bit shitty. I did quite a lot for it, but it like a TES game is near-irredeemable on a fundamental level, at least without making it something completely different (which in some special cases, I did).
    Personally I enjoy it quite a bit now, including the marines battle. But it's still probably inferior to the base game. The idea was to get it to a state of "fun and actually worth playing". since you've only complained about the marines things must be going relatively well. The payoff should be later levels in particular, some of which are cut beta content from the base game, and one level I made entirely from scratch because why the hell not, it's RTNP and liberties were taken.

    And yes, everyone seems to hate the mercenary enemy type. Even despite my numerous changes that makes them less of a pain.
     
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  21. Sjukob Arcane

    Sjukob
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    It is done, however the save file names do not fit fully into the window, so I'm not sure if this is a good proof. The final level was a meatgrinder.
    [​IMG]


    Ash
    When I saw that, I wanted to come here and type something along the lines of "Fuck you", but that battle was much easier and more manageable than the previous one.
    [​IMG]

    I found Return to Na Pali to be good, may be it was not on par with the original, but I definitely enjoyed it, wouldn't call it shitty at all, the only part I didn't like was the first battle with the marines. The new guns are overpowered and really trivialize the battles. During my playthrough I felt like there was much less work put into placing save points around levels, I often had to go for the long periods of time without seeing checkpoints, but it was not a big deal because the game was easy. There was no cutscene in the beggining and I also didn't hear any protagonist logs except for the one at the start, don't know if it supposed to work like that or was it the problem on my end.

    As I've promised, I will write about everything that I've experienced, can't say when the review will arrive though, it will take a while for me to finish it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2020
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  22. Ash Arcane

    Ash
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    Let me expand: "Shitty" is perhaps unfair. 6.5/10 sounds about right. RTNP originally consisted of some 50% of trash levels (these are all levels made by Legend Entertainment), 25% mediocre to acceptable levels (Legend), 25% good levels (these are beta levels cut from Unreal base game). All in all it wasn't a very good experience, very obviously inferior to the base game, but the beta levels made up for it. Legend's level designer/s (seems like there was only one) obviously had a questionable grasp on actual game and level design. For more evidence of this: Legend are the guys who also made Unreal 2. So what I did was focus primarily on getting the trash levels in particular to a enjoyable state. The main problem with the expansion was the level design. So I did quite a bit of level design work, with less concern for level of faithfulness with my approach than with the base game. Some levels have completely different map flow, others are almost entirely different maps, and others still (the "acceptable" levels and the beta maps) only have minor refinement. Then on top of that you got the ice temple level which is the one I made from scratch, which does a nice job extending the campaign slightly (which was half the length of base game). Would like to know what you thought of it.

    So in summary, the intent was to get RTNP to a semi-consistent level of quality across the game, from level to level in particular. That was 80% of my focus with RTNP, whereas with Unreal Evo base game level design was like 30% of my focus, because the level design was already good.

    I'm glad you had a fun time with RTNP, because in my mind while it's much improved and indeed should be a good experience, I didn't do enough.

    Excellent. I was impressed with the level of dedication you put into the AMC TC review, so I am happy to hear that.

    This is actually one such example of RTNP Evo sometimes being very different. In the original RTNP, the final map was ~9 minutes long (now ~45), half of the enemies ran away from you, there was some weird bugs, and the final boss (rehash from the base game) you could simply just run out the door from. The map is very different now, and as you noticed, pretty damn hardcore when originally it was borderline mindless and anti-climatic.

    I went back and forth with myself quite a bit on that save placement in particular. Ultimately I settled for prior to the mercenaries. Are you familiar with the concept of attrition? Should boss fights always have a save immediately prior?
    Generally I'd say yes, but not as a hard rule. I didn't considered the (nerfed) marines tough enough to demand it, but that's with the unfair expectation that players would take the high ground advantage.

    I would say you're correct though. There was slightly less attention given to the save points. I'd be analyzing whether a select location is just a bit too punishing, but just settled for the "get good or go home" mindset, which is a dangerous line to tread sometimes because there's a fine line between a good hardcore yet fair challenge, and extreme frustration.
    In general there was less time, attention and love given to RTNP because I was getting burnt out by the lack of people playing the base game evo which I put a ton of time and attention into. I figured everyone loved GMDX so surely I won't have to market Evo much and they'd flock to it...lesson learnt.
     
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  23. randir14 Scholar

    randir14
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    I never really liked vanilla Unreal, but I started playing the mod today and it's a lot of fun. I was just wondering about the DX11 renderer - I know the installation instructions say not to use it, but what's causing the problem? It works fine with GMDX but in Unreal Evolution it makes the game stutter like crazy.
     
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  24. Ash Arcane

    Ash
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    I couldn't rightly say. Graphics rendering is a whole other beast to game scripting, and I didn't make the renderer. I just fiddled with it a bit and noticed various issues.
     
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  25. Sjukob Arcane

    Sjukob
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    As I haven't played Unreal before trying out Evolution mod, I can't separate one from another, so this will be a mixed type of review. I will talk about Unreal in general, and since the mod was supposed to enhance the overall experience I will go really deep into details on certain aspects of the game. Let's do it.

    Before you begin playing, the game offers you a generous selection of difficulty options, we're going to select the hardest one - hardcore, in general the game is pretty easy even on that setting. Hardcore mode adds a bunch of changes to the gameplay, here they are:

    It's pretty inconviniet that in-game menu only says "game-saving is limited, among other new rules" and doesn't specify what exactly those rules are.

    We just can't start it off without this picture, do we?
    [​IMG]

    As the floor shakes beneath your feet and the screams of agony fill the corridors, the view of bloody massacre greets you as you wake up, we have arrived to... paradise?
    You play as a random inmate schmuck who was lucky/unlucky to survive a space ship crash and ended up on unknown planet, named Na Pali, to fight for her survival. From what I've read the protagonist (reffered to as prisoner 849 in game) is supposed to be a girl canonically, but in the options menu you can pick any character you like. Looking at the screenshot, you are probably wondering if it's possible to scale the HUD, well no, you can't do it, forget about it. We will have to wait another 20 years for Unreal to evolve to a new level and acquire such luxurious features. Sarcasm aside, that's not the only issue with Unreal's HUD, there is an aim offset, i.e. weapons don't shoot at the center of the crosshair, which becomes obvious very quickly.
    But let's get back on track. As you've already figured out you start at the crashed space ship - Vortex Rikers, it serves as an introduction level, there's no tutorial in Unreal, but this first map gives you enough room to get used to the controls and the movement. Nevermind the interior that falls apart, you are not limited by the time here. You get your first weapon - dispersion pistol here and prepare to roll out. I'm not going to talk about weapons just yet, later I will go really in-depth about the arsenal in this game, it fully deserves it.

    Ha! Bet you thought that skaarj there was just for the show, didn't you?
    [​IMG]

    I've heard stories that people who were able to launch Unreal on their machines back in 1998 (it was really demanding for the hardware at the time) were rolling on the ground orgasming and salivating themselves as they left Vortex Rikers and saw Na Pali for the first time, because the graphics were that good. What exactly did they see there? Here, take a look:

    Oh, shiny!
    [​IMG]

    Despite the blocky models and the other limitations of the early 3D era I adore Unreal visuals, they've got a lot of charm and style, it might not be obvious from the pictures of the first levels, but we will get to the good stuff eventually.
    The levels are devided in episodes, it's different from ID shooters where you lose your items after finishing one of them, Unreal allows you to keep your gear, but the theme of the levels changes as usual. After spending hundreds of hours in Doom I found Unreal style of continious play to be very refreshing, it's not that I dislike pistol starts and I understand why they are done, but you know, sometimes you want to try out something else. Anyway, the episodes are not strictly defined in Unreal and I personally segregate them like this:
    1. Path to the arena;
    2. Terraniux and Vandora's temple;
    3. ISV-Kran;
    4. From Spire Village to Bluff Eversmoking;
    5. Nali Castle and it's surroundings;
    6. Skaarj mothership.
    There are 36 missions in total, they differ from each other in length and gameplay, some are short linear, then there are big levels that allow for a significant degree of freedom, others only serve as bridges between episodes.

    I can't help but compliment the pacing of the game and it's ability to keep you hooked. While the levels do not feature crazy variety, I've seen in AMC TC and other fan-made works for various games, thematically they are consistent and supplement each other very well, Unreal's world looks and feels beliveable as a whole, it's not just a compilation of random locations. During your travels you will go through: Na Pali wilderness, various temples dedicated to nali deities, abandoned structures, crashed space ships, nali communities, castles, mining complex, greenhouse and more.

    Approaching temple of the water god, the exterior speaks for itself.
    [​IMG]

    The exterior areas are spiced up with wildlife, there are birds and giant insects flying in the skies, fishes and spruts swimming in the water, there are lizards, predatory tentacles and local analogue of cows. Then there are natives - Nali, they seem to be popular among other races who are looking for whipping boys or living toys for torturing. Anyway, all of them (except cows and some birds) aren't there just for the show, most of the animals are aggressive and dangerous, you'll have to fight them off. As for the nali, they are peaceful, they can open various stashes with items for you to collect, sometimes you will have to rescue them if you want to get the items. Lastly, there are healing fruits that serve as medkits in this game, you can even find their seeds and grow those fruits in case you need extra healing. I don't mean to put those things as something incredible, but they are a nice touch and add to the immersion.

    I can also compliment the great soundtrack. When I heard it for the first time I immediately recognized Alex Brandon, whom I was familiar with after playing Deus Ex. He was not the sole composer for Uneal, but I felt like he did the heavy lifting and the other guys managed the remains.

    You will see plenty of tortured nali throughout the game, these ones have it relatively good.
    [​IMG]

    On your way you won't see a lot of events, there are some, but it's far from Half-Life. There are no dialogues either (up until Return to Na Pali expansion), the closest thing that comes to them are nali beckoning you to follow. However, you aren't left to wonder around clueless of the occured events, there will be a lot of messages scattered throughout the game. The protagonist wasn't the only person to survive Vortex Rikers crash, but it's very likely she was the only one to survive Na Pali itself, there were other folks. Most of them haven't got far, you can find their PDAs and read about whatever happened to them. Nali also left various message for you to discover, but since they aren't a technologically advanced race, they either left writings on the walls or used books for their notes. Every alien race uses their own language, but you get a universal translator during your escape from Vortex Rikers, so you can read any written text freely, it won't translate the speech however and it's not really needed in the game.

    There isn't such thing as lore overload in Unreal, all of the texts are short and are straight to the point and there aren't that many of them either, so they won't really distract you from the action part of the game. I must say that I found such concept to be very well executed, I would rather have these small messages that I can read at my own pace, than dialogues or cutscenes that force you to sit through them.

    As for the plot, it is kind of split in two parts that form a single whole: protanogist trying to escape the planet and liberate nali from the skaarj invaders. It's not that a prisoner tries to play a hero, but it just so happens that skaarj block her only way to freedom and by running through them she involuntary helps nali. The plot also has a religious implication going on for it, skaarj are called demons from the stars (or sky demons, I don't remember already) by nali and in one of the texts they refer to the protagonist as princess from the stars. You visit several temples of the local gods to receive their blessings and unlock new abilities and towards the end of the game, the developers really pushed that demon related thing into level design. You know the usual stuff, like lava, torture chambers, gore and underworld theme, one of the maps is even literally called Demonlord's lair. So it's almost like you are playing a chosen warrior that battles hostile supernatural forces. Interesting idea, helps you to perceive the invasion from the nali point of view and see how much they suffer.

    Vanodra - one of the nali deities. Another picture we couldn't do this review without.
    [​IMG]

    And again, you pay as much attention to the surrounding world as you'd like. If you want to go fast and don't feel the need to bother with the lore and similar stuff, then feel free to, there's nothing stopping you.

    Alright, but what about killing things? Surely we haven't come here just to read the books and admire the environments, right? Let's take a look at the gameplay, we have a lot to talk about.

    Unreal takes a rather original approach to combat that you don't see often or... ever, at least I don't know any other game that features combat similar to Unreal, I guess Quake comes the closest, but it's still very different. The main idea goes like this - fighting a small amount of enemies that are smart (by action game merits) and aren't easy to take down.

    How's this achieved? Enemies will try running around in unpredicatable patterns to make aiming harder for you, a good portion of your attacks are not hitscan, so you will have to put in some effort into shooting. The same principle applies to your enemies, everything that comes at you is either a melee attack or a projectile, so with enough skill you can dodge literally everything (there's a pair of exceptions, but I will mention them later), the hostiles won't just try and shoot directly at the place where you currently are, they will spread their fire trying to catch you moving, so if you are not paying attention you can run directly into somebody's rocket or other projectile, if you try hiding behind corners the enemies will use suppressive fire and will keep shooting at the corner for some time even if you aren't peeking out. Some enemies, skaarj primarily, even use the same weapons as you do, so the game is fair.

    Speaking of dodge, almost everything in this game tries to dodge your attacks, skaarj roll around, brutes try sidestepping, gasbags can dash sideways, you get the idea. You can do and should do the same, there's a separate button that you can assign for dodging, you can dodge in any direction you want, your dodges however are limited by stamina, so you shouldn't rely solely on them, don't forget about the classic strafe.

    I've seen some people calling dodge useless, don't listen to them, the dodge is so fast that you can avoid even point blank shots. After reaching certain points in the game you will be able to use it in the air and underwater. And since it's the only way to give yourself some acceleration wihtout getting hurt, you will be using it just to move faster around big areas.

    There are robots in this game, but sadly they are just props.
    [​IMG]

    The combat is not just about who's better at avoiding opponent's rockets. Your foes come in all forms in shapes, their behaviour, attacks and patterns are different, some of them even come with unique special abilities. You will have to prioritize correct targets and choose the right tools for the current tasks.

    Unreal's arsenal is just as werid as it's world, the weapons don't follow a tiered progression path, so there isn't an ultimate gun that can solve all your problems (not until Return to Na Pali, at least), instead they are designed around filling their respective niches. Each weapon has two fire modes and some of them can even be combined to create a another one.
    Additionally, there are upgrade canisters scattered across the maps, each one will increase some of the weapon parameters: fire rate, damage, projectile speed, accuracy etc. Some of them are more interesting and give weapons various unique properties, but there's only a handful of them in the game. Every canister can be applied to the two weapons, but it gets spent after you upgrade a weapon, i.e. upgrades are mutually exclusive, so you will have to make choices. I should say in advance that Unreal Evolution doesn't offer much freedom when it comes to upgrade progression, most of the choices are obvious and are clearly superior to the others.

    Let's dive deeper and take a close look at Unreal's arsenal. Under the spoiler you will find a detailed analysis of each gun present in the vanilla campaign. I also added pictures of weapon stats with the upgrades I personally recommend to install.

    The arsenal
    Show Spoiler

    Dispersion pistol
    [​IMG]
    1. Primary fire mode: Energy shot.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Charged energy shot.
    Addiotional notes: Has infinite ammo that it slowly replenishes over time.

    When I played Unreal for the first time I thought that this gun was pretty busted: it does good damage, it has infinite ammo and with active amplifier it turns into a pocket Death Star. What's even cooler this weapon has it's own unique upgrades, that not only increase it's damage and energy capacity significantly, but also change it's appearance. I really didn't expect such performance from an infinite ammo gun that you find in the first level, usually such things are only used as a last resort type of weapons. That's what I thought when I was playing on the "very hard" difficulty mode, bringing it up to "hardcore" changed my view of this gun. You see, dispersion pistol is not bad, but it has some issues:
    1. It's damage is good, but the projectiles get dodged way too often. Using this gun over the others usually makes killing things more complicated;
    2. Alfire is a charged shot. I have a problem with charged attacks, not just in Unreal but in video games in general, regardless of their genre, but I will explain this later;
    3. Energy recharge rate never increases with the upgrades, yes the capacity raises as well, but it's not enough to compencate for the shooting costs that get higher each time. This results in gun being out of ammo nearly 100% of time, it simply doesn't recharge fast enough. Yes there's an upgrade that increases recharge rate, but the boost is way too small and insignificant, it doesn't help at all.
    Not a bad weapon, but it's mostly impractical to use it against enemies that dodge. It reaches it's peak moments when you save the energy for the boss fights, buff it up with the amplifier and unload the entire battery into their muzzles. If you fancy using amplifier against regular enemies it is usually safer to go with either ASMD or stinger.

    Upgrades: You only really want an increased recharge rate, everything else is whatever. There's a unique upgrade for dispersion pistol that turns it into an energy machine gun, but it requires you to sacrifice some very important upgrade for another gun (GES biorifle if I remember correctly) so I don't recommend installing it.

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]



    Automag
    [​IMG]
    1. Primary fire mode: Single shot, has no spread.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Faster shots with massive spread.
    Addiotional notes: Has to be reloaded every 18 shots (can be increased with upgrades), to do that manually select automag again. Switching to automag from other weapons automatically fills up it's magazine.

    This weapon is a noob trap. I've avoided falling into it, because I've read on the wiki that Unreal features a minigun that uses the same ammunition type as automag, and I thought that a pistol would never beat minigun's killing power, turned out I was right. Automag is not a useless weapon, it's a very handy thing until you get other guns, but then it becomes entirely obsolete. It's primary fire is somewhat slow, but it's a pinpoint accurate hitscan attack that never gets dodged and it deals good damage if you aim for the head, reloading can be somewhat annoying, but it's really not a big deal. So, why is this weapon a noob trap?
    1. Altfire is so inaccurate that there's no point in using it against anything but enemies with huge hurtboxes: brutes, gasbags and giants. It will miss skaarj at pointblank range. And even then, staying close to the enemies means taking more risks and for that reason you want to get rid of your targets as fast as possible, i.e. using the most devastating guns, automag doesn't fit the bill;
    2. it's a very handy thing until you get other guns, but then it becomes entirely obsolete
      There's no point in upgrading this weapon, because after passing the certain point in the game it simply loses it's niche. It no longer can serve as a sniper weapon, because you have ASMD and sniper rifle for that. It is never a good choice to use this gun in close combat, because it gets completely outclassed by guns that are actually good at it, like: stinger, flak cannon or biorifle. You won't even use it as a last resort weapon, because it shares it's ammo pool with minigun, which is a much more destructive weapon;
    3. This weapon shares it's upgrades with other weapons that really need it, like stinger. So by choosing to upgrade this weapon you effectively reduce the amount of weapons available to you. Again, don't forget that it shares it's ammo pool with minigun.
    Automag is only useful for a while. After expanding available arsenal you can forget about it entirely.

    I almost forgot that I wanted to complain about the delay that happens when you try to mix the fire modes. If you use the primary fire and then switch to the secondary and vice versa there's a like a 2-3 second delay before the weapon switches the modes and starts firing. Even if you just want to use secondary fire while the weapon is idle there's still a noticeable delay before it starts firing. What's the fucking point of that? It shouldn't be a thing. It might seem like a minor issue, but it annoys the fuck out of me. All weapons must be as responsive as possible. Never hamper the player with bad controls. One of the guns has similar issue, but aside from that Unreal weapons control fine.

    In the end I think that it's ok to have a throwaway weapon like automag, but if the idea of every gun having it's own niche and absence of the ultimate weapon is to be preserved, then the automag is in the need of some changes.

    Upgrades: Don't.

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]



    Stinger
    [​IMG]

    1. Primary fire mode: Shoot out icicles full auto mode.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Shoot out several icicles at once - shotgun mode.

    This weapon is a bit tricky. It's crap at first, but gets very powerful after some upgrades. There isn't much more to say about this gun, it's a full auto, rapid fire icicle thrower. Primary fire is the preferred mode. Why? Well, enemies tend to dodge stinger projectiles from time to time, and if they do that while you're going full auto on them, you can quickly readjust your aim and don't lose much DPS, however if they dodge your alfire its very likely that all of your projectiles will go to waste. Additionally, primary fire is more ammo effecient even at close distances, because you can always aim for the head, altfire spread is so large that only a couple of projectiles will headshot the enemy even at pointblank distance. Stinger gets really awesome if you use it with amplifier, it's almost like shooting infantry with anti aircraft machine gun. Stinger's main limiting factor is ammo pool that it chews up very quickly, especially after the upgrades.

    Upgrades: Rate of fire, projectile speed, recoil.

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]



    ASMD
    [​IMG]
    1. Primary fire mode: Pinpoint accurate, hitscan energy beam.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Explosive, slow moving energy ball.
    Addiotional notes: You can detonate altfire energy ball with primary fire while it's still in the air, it will explode harder but it will cost you 5 ammo units to do so.

    This weapon is pretty much flawless. I don't mean to say that it's the best in the game, but it doesn't have any real downsides. Well, you can hurt yourself with it's altfire, but it doesn't count. So why do I call it flawless?
    1. Primary fire is a hitscan beam that does good damage, knocks enemy back and is pinpoint accurate. It's effective at any range, knockback effect is useful for keeping enemies at bay (you won't let skaarj melee you) or just knocking them off ledges. It can not be dodged, it's damage can be boosted if you aim for the head;
    2. ASMD isn't just an energy sniper rifle, it's altfire is an explosive energy ball that does more damage than the beam, but moves slower. It helps you deal with enemies at close distances, it's also effective against groups of enemies.
    ASMD's primary and altfire can be combined: you shoot out the ball and then explode it with the primary fire, you have to be precise to achieve it. I personally feel like the combo shot doesn't worth the effort. The explosion radius is pretty small and it's very hard to judge wether the enemy will be hit by it, enemies tend to dodge ASMD altfire a lot, so they will usually be outside of explosion range anyway, and lastly doing combo shot costs you 5 ammo units and if Unreal wiki's numbers are correct then the combo shot does less damage than 5 individual altfires, besides regular altfire is way easier to land than the combo shot.

    Overall, ASMD stays your good and reliable companion no matter the situation you may find yourself in.

    Upgrades: Rate of fire, recoil, damage (your preference). Amplified ASMD is beastly, upgrade that decreases amplifier energy drain is way better than it might seem at the first glance.

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]



    Eightball gun
    [​IMG]
    1. Primary fire mode: Start loading rockets in the barrels for a maximum of 6, the rockets will be shot in a horizontal line.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Start loading grenades in the barrels for a maximum of 6, the grenades will be shot in a hexagonal pattern.
    Addiotional notes: You can shoot out rockets in a hexagonal pattern too, hold altfire button while they are loading up.

    I have mixed feelings about this gun. When I played the game for the first time I thought that this gun was pretty bad: it's slow, it controls poorly, the shots are very easy to miss and it's damage didn't impress me. I feel like I have to explain myself here:
    1. It's slow. The gun has 6 barrels (why is it called eightball gun then?) and when you hold fire or altfire it starts loading shells in each barrel for as long as you hold a button up to a maximum of 6 shells in total. And it does so very leisurely;
    2. It controls poorly. Preparing shells in advance is a pain in the ass, letting go of fire button will instantly launch them. This makes for a lot of missed shots when enemies are running around corners and for a lot of pulled out hair when you are fighting near doors. Thank you Unreal for not having "use" button, thank you for instantly closing doors and not letting them stay open for a while;
    3. It's shots are easy to miss. Projectile speed is very slow without upgrades, enemies dodge them a lot, even if they are just strafing;
    4. It's damage didn't impress me. I felt like it took me less time to kill enemies with other weapons than to wait for this clunky ass gun to load, and even if enemies took the rockets into their faces they would still have a good chance of survival.
    My opinion of this weapon became more positive after I started playing hardcore, I became better at the game and landing rockets sucessfully wasn't an issue for me anymore, I've figured out moments when it was time to load up the gun, but in the end I still think that this gun is flawed, here's why:
    1. Essentially it's a charge type weapon, I've already said that I have issues with charged attacks in general, but due to it's damage and big splash radius I'm willing to give this gun a pass;
    2. Altfire grenades are extremely limited in their use. They travel even slower than rockets, the distance they travel is very short as well, and you never really need something that can bounce around corners in Unreal. Basically they will get dodged 100% of time. So the only real use for the grenades, thanks to their increased damage, is killing some very durable enemies at close ranges, but even then you need to know about it in advance and you have be careful to avoid hurting yourself;
    3. It's not rare for some of the rockets to miss an enemy when you are shooting them in a hexagon pattern. What happens is that you load up all 6 rockets, shoot them under enemy's feet and the rockets that travel closer to the ground launch enemy in to the air, while the rockets in the upper points of hexagon miss the enemy entirely;
    4. After playing through the game twice I still think that it control poorly, see the point above.
    To me it seems like eightball gun was cool on paper, but didn't turn out as good in practice. It's not a bad weapon, but I feel like it's overengineered, making rocket launcher complicated to use just wasn't a good idea. I will talk about this weapon again once we get to the Return to Na Pali arsenal. I personally feel like eightball gun either needs a revision or some significant tweaks.

    Upgrades: Projectile speed, damage (preference).

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]



    Flak cannon
    [​IMG]
    1. Primary fire mode: Shoot out a bunch of sharpnel - shotgun mode.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Launch a grenade that explodes on impact and sends out shrapnel everywhere.

    Another gun that I learned to appreciate after I got better at the game. You get this weapon just after your stinger becomes strong, fast and starts tearing enemis apart at close distances. And then you are given a flak cannon, which doesn't really catch up with stinger at that point, it is way slower and it's primary fire effective range is lower. Make no mistake though, this thing is a beast in close combat. It almost never gets dodged, it's damage is still very high, especially if you can land headshots, and the altfire can extend the range of this thing significantly, it's even effective against crowds. I like flak cannon. Watch out for the shrapnel though, you can hurt yourself even with primary fire if it ricochets in you.

    Upgrades: Rate of fire, damage (preference).

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]



    Razorjack
    [​IMG]
    1. Primary fire mode: Shoot out a shuriken-like projectile that bounces off the walls.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Shoot out a shuriken-like projectile that bounces off the walls and follows your crosshair.
    Addiotional notes: Headshots deal massive damage.

    What a piece of shit. It's the worst fucking gun in the game, I really don't like it. It's fire rate is low, the projectiles move slowly, it's very hard to hit anything with it. It has a gimmick where headshotting enemies will deal obscene damage, but body shots are way weaker. Too bad that for the said reasons it's almost impossible to headshot somebody. So fuck this gun, it's not good for anything, only serves as a dump weapon, so I wouldn't run out of ammo for the actuall good weapons too fast. It's honestly insulting that the game gives you so much ammunition for this shit, because I never feel like touching this abomination. It also features the same fucking delay that the automag has, but just to insult you further there's an upgrade that decreases this delay for the altfire. Holy shit Ash, I wish I could slap you. This weapon needs an overhaul.

    Upgrades: Don't.

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]



    GES Biorifle
    [​IMG]
    1. Primary fire mode: Launches small blobs of sludge that stick to surfaces and explode if somebody touches them.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Inflate a big blob of sludge, works the same way as the primary fire but the big blob deals more damage and creates a bunch of smaller blobs after the explosion.

    I've seen some people say that this gun is pretty bad, but I personally feel that it's borderline overpowered. It falls in the same boat as stinger - it's meh at the start, but becomes much, much stronger after the upgrades. I like to call this gun just GES, so I will be referring to it like so from this point. GES is pretty much the ultimate weapon for close combat, it's like a fully automatic grenade launcher that you don't have to reload, the only difference that instead of the grenades it launches a bunch of snivels that fucking melt enemies. It's DPS is obscene and the only thing that keeps it from being broken is that you can hurt yourself and it's not as easy to hit targets with sludge, even after the upgrades. But if you are at least semi-decent at shooting this thing will obliterate anything that dares to engage you, basically once somebody gets launched in to the air due to a blob hitting them in the feet they are 100% fucked, but even if it doesn't happen the DPS of this gun is so big that you will still wash them away. I recommend sticking with primary fire, because altfire is yet another charge attack.

    Upgrades: Fire rate, projectile speed, damage (preference). There's a unique upgrade for GES that makes primary fire blobs explode on impact with surfaces, this upgrade is a must have one, unless your aiming skills are godlike.

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]



    Sniper rifle
    [​IMG]

    1. Primary fire mode: Pinpoint accurate hitscan shot.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Zoom in.

    Sniper rifle, the name speaks for itself. It's not an extraordinary gun, but it's reliable and is good at doing it's main purpose - long range combat. Aim for the head for maximum effeciency, after a knockback upgrade it becomes very fun to shoot. While it's primary fire is very similar to ASMD and even does higher damage, it's better to not use this gun in close combat, because sniper rifle has a way stronger recoil and it's fire rate is lower as well.

    Upgrades: Damage (preference). There's a unique upgrade that adds knockback property to the shots. It's a very good upgrade, way better than you might think at first, it will allow you to safely keep enemies away or even push them of the ledges, dumb skaarj won't be able to rush you. I strongly recommend to avoid upgrading it's fire rate, because this weapon has a lot of recoil, it just won't allow you to fire faster.

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]



    Minigun
    [​IMG]

    1. Primary fire mode: Make the thingy shoot.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Make the thingy shoot faster at the cost of accuracy.

    After playing through the game twice, I still have no idea how this this thing shoots, it's design is just weird, obviously whoever created it was taking inspiration from meatgrinder machines. As a tool minigun sits somewhere in the middle, though it's always nice to have it. It's not as scary at close combat as GES or flak cannon are, but it still does good damage. It is not accurate enough for sniping, but it's more precise than the usual video game heavy machinguns are. But you know, you couldn't have made minigun too strong, since it's a hitscan weapon. Minigun is easy to use and is very forgiving to your aiming skills, I like this weapon. I recommend sticking with altfire, the accuracy penalty might seem too high at first, but you'll adjust very quickly, especially after you slap some mods on it. Primary fire is too slow and can not demonstrate the true greatness of this gun, of course you should use it in situations where accuracy is important.

    Upgrades: Recoil, accuracy.

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]




    As for your foes, I see no reason to explain each enemy individually, so I'll just remind you of the principle I mentioned earlier. Everything in Unreal attacks you either in melee or with projectiles. The enemies aren't that complex and I believe that you will be able to figure them out on your own, this review is already big enough as it is. I will however make some general notes about enemy behaviour and mention some of the things that looked off to me.

    The enemies
    Show Spoiler

    The skaarj
    [​IMG]

    These guys like to rush in and try to melee you, watch out for their blades. Their passion for melee combat is their biggest weakness, you will easily slaughter all the idiots that can't keep their distance with your stinger or flak cannon. Additionally, their melee attacks have some recovery time, so if you manage to avoid them, you have something like 2-3 seconds to freely wail on them. Skaarj can and will try to strafe and dodge roll your projectiles, aim carefully or use hitscan weapons. The more advanced ones use guns similar to your arsenal, sometimes they try to use energy shields, occasionally you can meet ones that are equipped with teleportation devices.

    Some things I wanted to note about skaarj:
    1. Their AI likes to derp around at times. Sometimes they will just stand there and wait for you to kill them, I don't know why it happens, but it seems to be related to surface elevation, especially around corners. It's not something that happens rarely, I've seen it plenty of times;
    2. Skaarj that try to use their energy shields are a free kill. You have plenty of time to load up your eightball gun or charge up any weapon that has charge attacks and kill them while they just sit there. I'm not even sure if the enegy shield does anything, oftentimes I just pull out dispersion pistol and shoot them to death, seems like it reduces damage somewhat, but not enough to be relevant;
    3. Teleportation devices are mostly there for special effects. Skaarj don't use them agressively enough, they don't try to cut your ways for retreating, they don't teleport behind you, they don't take advantageous positions with their teleports. Their teleports mostly serve as a way to annoy the player, because you can't attack them while they are phased out. I understand that implementing said things might not be feasible, but at it's current state the teleport doesn't work well enough.
    The brutes
    [​IMG]

    Meatheads armed with either greande or rocket launchers. They can't dodge, but still try to sidestep your shots, though their low movement speed doesn't really allow them to do that. Occasionally they might try and bull rush you, but that attack is easily avoidable with dodge. There are variants of brutes called behemoths, which are even bigger and dumber. I think that brutes armed with flak cannons might be too strong, the grenades have big splash radius and also send shrapnel flying everywhere and since brutes go rapid fire on you, it becomes hard to dodge them. These flak cannon brutes are usually placed in very tight environments where you can't avoid getting hit by either explosions or the shrapnel, that's cheap. At least you don't encounter them often.

    The critters and monsters (too many to post pictures)

    It's various hostile in nature wildlife of Na Pali. This is the category I find the most annoying and troublesome, here's why:
    1. Mantas. Their attacks take 25hp off you, are you serious? You take the same damage if you are hit by skaarj energy weapons, so a miniature reptile bites as hard as futuristic laser guns, cool. Then, this thing is very fast, and while it can be killed in only 3 shots it's hitbox is small, combine it with the fact that Unreal's crosshair isn't accurately alligned with the direction that your weapons shoot at and you get a trouble. This critter is so utterly dominant that in any given scenario it becomes №1 target for you, this is well demonstrated by one of the fights in Chizra temple, where you have to kill a skaarj and a pair of mantas, it's not the skaarj that causes trouble, it's all about mantas. Then there's a fight in the expansion pack where almost every enemy in the game is thrown at you, and again, once the mantas show up 100% of your attention gets directed at them, nevermind the behemoths and groups of skaarj running around, it's the mantas that kill you. May be it's better for them to remain strong, because that makes them interesting at least. But I think the only reason they work is that they usually come at you isolated from other enemies and you have a lot of room to move around. In group fights scenarios they seem pretty overpowered to me, I would've personally expanded their hurtboxes and reduced the damage they deal to 15 (flies probably need the same treatment, but they aren't as scary as mantas and are 10 easier to kill);
    2. Sprouts are hp bloated, feels like their health pool is similar to skaarj lord. Their torpedo attack needs to have some cooldown, because what happens now is pretty silly. The sprout charges in, you dodge it, it turns around and instantly charges again, you can't even dodge the second attack, because your underwater dodge is still on cooldown;
    3. Gasbags try to attack you with projectiles, when they are out of range, so their projectiles explode in the air without having a chance to reach you. Also, it would've been cool if you could blow them up instantly, by using ASMD primary fire or something, while they are trying to use their charged attack;
    4. I think that slith sonic attack needs to be a tiny bit more telegraphed, may be, by a 0,5-1 second max. It's a strong attack with good range, but I've personally never had troubles dodging it. Slith AI can also be derpy at times, they might try to enter/jump out of the water for no apparent reason and I'm not talking about scripted events here;
    5. Titans can't deal with player circle strafing around them. There's a whole single encounter in the entire game + expansion pack with one of them, that tries to limit your movement somewhat. Do titan encounters really have to be similar to the 1993 cyberdemon fight?;
    6. Skaarj pupae, their hurtboxes are fucked. I can deal with their 25 hp bite (although it has no reason to be that strong), but not with the fact that it's a pain in the ass to hit them no matter what you do, your flak cannon can miss them pointblank, and when they jump it's almost like they phase out of this world and ignore every material object. Double their hurtboxes in size or something, seriously.
    The mercenaries
    [​IMG]

    Another alien dudes fron unknown planet, they prefer to let their guns do the talking and you should definitely return them the favor. The mercenaries are pretty interesting opponents, they primarily attack with rocket launchers, but they also have a machine gun that they use seldomly. They can also become invisible or invincible for a short time, although while invulnerable they can only use their melee attacks. Mercs are slow and their only way of avoiding your attacks is strafing, though they are quite tough and it takes some time to kill them. I actually enjoy fighting them and think that they are underused in the vanilla campaign, but the mercenaries have a number of issues that should be adressed:
    1. Invincibility. This has to be removed, there's no argument to be had here. Why is that? It only wastes player's time, while mercenaries are invincible they just run around doing nothing and are not a threat to the player, more so it opens up the opportunity for the player to easily charge up a slow but powerful attack and instagib them when their shields drop off. But most importantly, this invincibility mechanic repeats the same mistake that many developers did way back then and still keep doing it now - allowing the enemy to dictate the pace of combat, just never do that, it's always annoying and it never works. I heavily criticized it in my Devil May Cry 3 review, I'm not going to approve it here. You should be able to dedicate any spare second to attacking if you can, not just when the enemy allows you to. It is never fun to dance around doing some stupid gimmicks and bang against some impenetrable shields while the enemy goes: "lol, can't touch this";
    2. The same invincibility can be borked at times, I've seen mercs that were spamming their machine guns or even launching rockets while their shields were up. Ash told me that he nerfed the frequency at which they go god mode (a band aid solution), but I've seen these dudes behave this way - take a hit, pop up shields, take another hit, pop up shields, get hit once again, pop up shields... I went through 5 invincibility cycles just to kill one guy, it's very likely to be a bug, because I've only seen it twice or thrice;
    3. Machine gun attack. This needs to be reworked from the ground up. Firstly, this attack breaks Unreal rules, let me remind you once again, everything that comes at you is either a projectile or a melee attack. Secondly, this attack is pathetic, it's accuracy is poor and the damage is negligible. So you have an attack that not only breaks the core principle of combat, but is also very inefficient. Double fail. I have no idea how strong it was in the vanilla or pre-release versions of the game, but I suspect that it was heavily nerfed either by the original developers or by Ash when he was making the mod, because one of them realised that making this attack powerful would've made it bullshit. What I'm trying to say, is that nerfing it to it's current state was a band aid solution, that's why I said that it needs to be reworked. I suggest turning it into some sort of a telepgrahed wave/projectile energy attack that will be used at close ranges. Why at close ranges specifically? See the following point;
    4. Mercenaries keep using their rocket launchers in close combat, it's silly because it makes them look suicidal. It's why I suggested reworking machine gun into a close range energy something. That way the broken and totally pointless attack that gets used randomly would actually get a purpose and enemy behaviour would become more clear and sensible.

    The krall
    [​IMG]

    At first I thought that these guys were part of some agressive Na Pali tribe, but they are actually mercenaries employed by skaarj. They appear in the second half of the game, but are actually one of the easier enemies to deal with. Their staves can shoot energy projectiles, elite kraal troops can deploy energy shields and shoot projectiles with slight homing properties. Here are some things that I think need polishing:
    1. Energy shields, another invincibility bullshit. I've already explained this, see my point about mercenary shields above. In case of krall it's even dumber, because they are completely stationary while they are shielded, nothing prevents you from going behind an obstacle and cursing at Ash for designing that piece of shit mechanic waiting it out, what a fantastic way to waste your time. Ash, looking at your response to my complaints about mercenaries I see that you're aware that nobody likes it, you even said that you made some tweaks to make them less of a pain to deal with. Tell me Ash, what the fuck were you thinking while adding the same fucking shit to krall?! "Nobody likes that invincibility that mercenaries have, I'm gonna add it to another enemy, muhahaha!" way to conquer the world, pal;
    2. Homing projectile. I feel like it needs a better warning. Right now it is colored in blue, but it looks smaller than the regular projectile and it can easily go unnoticed in more chaotic battles. Adding some visual effect, for example, making krall staves spark when they shoot them, to serve as a warning seems like a good idea to me. Also, I don't know if it's a bug or not, but if you stay far enough, the krall will keep shooting homing projectiles exclusively and it's pretty ridiculous to be honest, look.
      Show Spoiler
      [​IMG]

      If that's the intended behaviour, then I suggest changing it to be less spammy.

    Unique bosses
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I call them unique bosses, because you never encounter these 2 as regular enemies. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with them, it's just that they can't do much about you strafing around, warlord especially. At least the area during first battle with him doesn't allow for free strafing, but everything after that are just big circles. I remember I saw Ash saying somewhere how easy it was to kill queen in vanilla game, you just jumped to the upper sections of the arena and used dispersion pistol. Well it's not as trivial anymore, but you are still free to run around and not worry much about getting hit by anything. Pupae? I played through the fight twice and never payed attention to them. Energy balls? Yeah, have to watch out for those. Sonic attack? Press dodge button when you see it comming. You play on hardcore and warlord shows up midfight? Lol, just keep strafing, at that point it doesn't matter who you are going to prioritize for attacking, because the queen will very likely be half dead there. Good effort overall, but needs further improvements.


    And lastly, Unreal also features inventory items. I'm going to say it straight - the item usage in this game is very lackluster. There are various types of armor suits and super health items scattered across the maps, ok nothing to complain about here, everything else however is questionable at best:
    1. Grenades. Firstly, they are boring, secondly there's little point in having them when you can carry 14 weapons with you in total and over half of them can deal AOE damage.
      That's not good enough, Ash. Do deepen the combat and be interesting they need to offer something unique. For example, creating a cloud at the area that damages anything that enters it over time, or how about creating a vortex that pulls everything to it's center. Nothing in player's arsenal offers such effects and these effects could've made the grenades unique and desired things to have. I personally completely ignore them, because I'm always loaded with explosives, the grenades don't offer anything to me that my arsenal can't do. Don't look at the modern FPS where grenade key became a norm, there you usually can only carry 2 weapons at once, and one of them is almost never a grenade launcher. That's not the case in Unreal, where you go around killing things with multiple rocket launchers at once;
    2. Shields. The only usage I found for them is cheesing the razorjack shuriken puzzle at skaarj mothership, I have no idea how to use them in combat, I would rather have as much room to move around as possible. At least krall can shoot through their shields, your shields don't have such properties;
    3. Flares and flashlights. I don't see the point in pitch black darkness in games, unless it's a horror, a stealth type of game or the game has mechanics tied up to illumination. If I was designing the maps for Unreal, I would've darkned them a bit where it made sense, but allowed the player to see without using light sources. What's even the point of the darkness? It just adds a pointless headache for the player to deal with. Do I have to remind you that nobody liked Doom 2 darkness when it came out and everybody hated Doom 3 flashlight bullshit. Darkness is not a big issue in Unreal (untill skaarj mothership at least), but I find it to be a worthless addition overall. There's no stealth, it's not a horror game and there are no mechanics tied to it, enemies see you clearly in the darkness, so in the end it's just a pontless thing to make the levels more bothersome for the player.
    The rest of the items them: the amplifier, the seeds, the invisibility device, the jump boots in particular... All of them are underutilized very heavily. They need better placement in the maps, they need to be featured in higher quantities (there's only one invisibility device in the entire fucking campaign, what the fuck is this?!), they need to have encounters centered around them, they need better effects, they need to matter more in general. When I was playing user made maps for Heretic, like elf gets pissed or the wayfarer, finding tome power made me go: "Holy fuck, I'm going to kill everything!" it was exciting, because the encounter design and item placement was tight. That's not the thing in Unreal, amplifier never gets a chance to demonstrate it's true power, except may be for the battle with the queen. You are never in real need of portable medkits, you are not straved out of health items for seeds to matter much. The invisibility could've been used to allow the player to create ambushes and take advantageous position before starting a fight, but it needs to actually start appearing in the game for the player to be able to do it. Jumping boots are a disaster, they literally have no purpose in the game except for the fight with the queen, well there's a super health pick up that you can get on ISV-Kran, but it's an exception to the rule. And as an icing on the cake to all of this, there are no quick bind keys for the inventory items, except for the grenades, thanks to this inventory management becomes a pain in the ass, especially when you are moving through dark areas and have to use flashlight and throw flairs everywhere. Overall, inventory items and their placement is the weakest point in Unreal Evolution.

    Now it's time to mention some general things:
    1. Charged attacks. I've never understood them. You are taking more risks while you are charging something and pointlessly running around or, what's even worse, standing still, because the attack requires you to do so. I'm not talking just about Unreal here, but the concept of charged attacks in general. You could've killed something and made the fight easier for yourself by using regular attacks, instead of preparing a super-duper ultimate mega move. Additionally, the punishment for missing such attacks is much higher, you've spent some time preparing it and if it didn't connect it was all for nothing. You missed the opportunity to attack, you pointlessly wasted your ammo, you took more risks that didn't payoff, you missed the chance to make the fight easier for yourself etc. If I was modding the game, I personally would've replaced all charge attacks in Unreal with something else for this reason;
    2. This is related to the previous point. Almost every weapon in Unreal has a fire mode that heavily outclasses the other, so while the guns might feature two or even three fire modes, in practice you mostly stick with just one them. I think I've covered it pretty extensively in my commentaries about the weapons, but I can explain it even more thoroughly if it's needed;
    3. Weapon switching speed is too slow. I feel like Unreal needs instant weapon switching, the same way it happens in Quake. Since every gun is supposed to have it's own niche and have it's effeciency vary depending on the situation, I think it would be fair to allow the player to juggle through his entire arsenal without constraints. It would allow to set up some creative weapon combos;
    4. Lack of melee attack. Almost everything in the game can melee you, but you are somehow an exception to the rule. It wouldn't have bothered me so much if the weapon switching speed wasn't so low. Who cares about melee attacks when you can instantly reach for your flak cannon or stinger? But still, having some sort of a melee attack would've been nice, something like a kick in the hrangos, you know;
    5. I have no idea how headshots work. I ve been able to score headshots with basically any weapon in the game, even with GES and grenade launcher, at least I saw skaarj being decapitated by my attacks, so I think it counts. It would've been good to know how much do the headshots boost the damage and which weapons are eligible for scoring them. Some visual feedback when it occurs (splattering blood, for example) would be a nice addition too;
    6. I really like the checkpoint mechanic of the hardcore difficulty. I wish it was present in more FPS games. While manual saving is always nice to have, I personally always end up overusing it involuntarily. While it does put some additional strain on level designers I feel like it makes for a better experience overall and allows players to master the game and measure their skill more accurately.
    Despite the present downsides, Unreal has some of the best combat you will find in FPS games. I would put just bellow Doom and Quake, which I consider to be the best to this date, that's how awesome Unreal is.

    I told you that we will get to the good stuff eventually.
    [​IMG]

    That's about everything I wanted to say about Unreal's original campaign. But after playing through it I was hungry for more, thankfully Ash has adopted Unreal's ugly sister called Return to Na Pali, and with the help of some surgical intervention turned it into an enjoyable ride. Luckily for me the new campaign doesn't change the game drastically, the wall of text above is already massive as it is, so I'll give you a quick rundown of what the expansion has to offer.

    After escaping from Na Pali the protagonist gets captured by the very same people who owned the Vortex Rikers, what a miraculous coincidence. Anyway, they cut hear a deal, either she returns to Na Pali and finds the remains of Prometheus - some other ship that's important to them or they throw her out in the open space with no protection. So it's basically the same business as the original campaign, travel through Na Pali and kill everything you encounter, except nali and their cows of course. There are still plenty of skaarj running around the planet, I suppose those are the remains of the mothership crew. Overall the levels share themes with the original campaign (the final levels feature a totaly new winter theme), but I found them to be prettier. There are more details, more lights, more variety, when it comes to visuals Return to Na Pali doesn't disappoint. They didn't drop the ball with the music either, Alex Brandon still delivers the good stuff, check it out:


    Things don't look that good when it comes to the gameplay, however. Expansion introduces a bunch of stuff that is just broken and it heavily favors the player, let's take a look at it.

    Return to Na Pali weapons and enemies
    Show Spoiler

    Combat Assault Rifle
    [​IMG]
    1. Primary fire mode: Full auto hitscan.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Launches a grenade.

    It's basically an additional minigun in your arsenal, but it has twice the ammo. You get this thing right from the start and combined with the following gun it really trivializes early game fights. This gun gives a massive finger to automag, as if it wasn't heavily outclassed already. Just aim for the head and hold the fire button, the spread is pretty big so you'll have to stay relatively close to the enemies. Can't say much about altfire, the grenade has no splash (or barely has any) and consumes 10 ammo per shot, although it travels very fast, I find that going for the head with primary fire to be a better option. This weapon is very strong in general and sets off a trend that follows the entire expansion campaign - make the shooting and killing trivial, but it's got nothing on what's coming next.

    Upgrades: Rate of fire, recoil, accuracy.

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    The quadshot
    [​IMG]
    1. Primary fire mode: Hitscan shotgun.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Load up additional shells up to a maximum of 4.

    This gun, I consider it to be the most overpowered thing in the entire game, but you can argue that the rocket or the grenade launcher, or even the auto rifle is the most busted one, whatever, they are all overpowered. So why is this thing broken? Let's see, it does up to 80 damage per shot, which is a bit lower than the flak cannon, but it can shoot 4 of them at once, the spread is way tighter (especially after the upgrades) and it's a hitscan weapon. Basically you load up 4 shells, point it at somebody, bam and they are dead. It will oneshot almost anything in the game, and since Unreal is not a horde shooter, killing somebody in a second is an extremely strong ability to have. Remeber those skaarj lords? Those guys can take quite a beating and it takes time to take them down. Not when you have a quadshot with you, just point it at their heads and shoot, it will oneshot them very reliably. Good thing that this weapon doesn't have retarded controls like eightball does and you can keep all 4 barrels loaded for as long as you like, you can even switch weapons and it won't reset. An absolute monster of a weapon that is only held back by the ammo that you don't find that often.

    Upgrades: Rate of fire, accuracy, recoil, damage (preference).

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    UMS Grenade Launcher
    [​IMG]
    1. Primary fire mode: Launch a grenade that explodes on impact.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Launch a grenade that has to be set off manually.

    Just a grenade launcher nothing fancy about it, except it's damage, which is very high. Enemies almost never dodge the grenades, so there's no excuse for the missed shots except your poor aiming. This weapon has some fancy explosion visuals that can block your view, it might not seem so bad when you are the only person who fires it, but it will get much worse when you encounter a new enemy type.

    Upgrades: Damage (preference), rate of fire (preference), projectile speed (preference). There's a unique upgrade that makes either grenade or rocket launcher splash damage weaker, but damage from the direct hit stronger. Enemies almost never dodge the grenades, but rocket launcher projectiles has some extreme homing. Grenade and rocket launcher share upgrade canisters, so apply upgrades on whatever you like more.

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    UMS Rocket Launcher
    [​IMG]
    1. Primary fire mode: Launch a rocket.
    2. Secondary fire mode: Launch a rocket that homes in on your crosshair.

    A rocket launcher that can shoot out rockets with some extreme homing properties, you will feel like a revenant from Doom on steroids. It's damage is similar to the grenade launcher, i.e. fucking huge. Enemies usually attempt to dodge the rockets, but they stand no chance against the homing dildos of death. For some reason this weapon has a huge ammo pool of 100 rockets, that's enough to blow up a whole planet. This thing combined with the grenade launcher makes eightball gun completely obsolete for these reasons:
    1. They don't control like shit;
    2. They are simply stronger;
    3. The ammo is always plentiful;
    4. They are simple to use and don't require you to manage timings and other things to hit the target.
    You see, even if rocket launcher had it's ammo pool and damage nerfed, and it's homing rockets removed it would still be a better weapon than the eightball gun, just because it's so simple to use. Just like the grenade launcher this weapon has some overly fancy explosion visuals.

    Upgrades: Damage (preference), rate of fire (preference), projectile speed (preference). Grenade and rocket launcher share upgrade canisters. There's a unique upgrade that makes either grenade or rocket launcher splash damage weaker, but damage from the direct hit stronger. Enemies almost never dodge the grenades, but rocket launcher projectiles has some extreme homing. Grenade and rocket launcher share upgrade canisters, so apply upgrades on whatever you like more.

    Stats:
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    UMS marines
    [​IMG]

    This the biggest bullshit in the game. This is the worst enemy type in the game. You may dress your kids in these guys suits on halloween if you aren't afraid of them getting beaten up to death. Forget about mantas, they've got nothing on these guys. What exactly makes them so insufferable? Let's see:
    1. They use the same automatic rifle as you do, and yes it's a full hitscan too;
    2. They move around very quickly, faster than skaarj;
    3. They use the same grenade and rocket launchers as you, why is it a problem? See the following point;
    4. Remember the fancy explosion visuals that I mentioned? Well, the marines attack in groups and when you are fighting them the grenades and rockets fly everywhere, this results in a large amount of explosions, which can block a lot of your vision. What's more, is that each time you get hit in Unreal the screen shakes slightly and your vision blurs red, it's not a problem in vanilla game, because you don't get hitscanned by rapid fire weapons from several directions at once. But here comes the Return to Na Pali expansion pack with it's new fancy enemy type, so fancy that when fighting them you can't stop having seizures from all the colors that flash on your screen.
    For additional notes on why this enemy is terrible, refer to one of posts in this topic, I'll put it under the spoiler here
    Show Spoiler



    Thankfully you only encounter them twice and the second fight is much more manageable than the first. This enemy type needs some serious reworks.

    Ash told me that they were heavily nerfed in comparison to their original versions, like their hitscan damage got heavily decreased. Ok, but it's yet another band aid solution, they don't need to have their hitscan damage reduced, they need to have their hitscan attack removed, it has to be replaced with a proper projectile that every normal enemy in Unreal uses. Rocket and grenade launchers need some other visuals that won't obstruct your vision so much.

    As you can see, the Return to Na Pali additions are fun, but are pretty retarded. The weapons are not only stupid strong, but are also stupid simple to use, they need nerfs, tweaks, reworks. The marines are something that should've never appeared in the game in such state. They are the single most retarded thing present in the game, they would require some major reworks to be made into a proper enemy.


    Despite the appealing visuals the storytelling and lore are much weaker in Return to Na Pali. It was supposed to feature protagonist's audio logs, but it seems like they were cut in the mod, so you only hear one in the intro, but I don't mind, they aren't interesting anyway and I don't like the prisoner talking much. Otherwise it's your usual Unreal stuff, lost PDAs and nali writings, but only worse in quality. The ending was disappointing too, it's identical to vanilla, but done way worse.

    Return to Na Pali tried featuring harder combat. Even at early levels you will encounter late game enemies, you usually get attacked by bigger groups as well. Too bad that most of it is vain effort, thanks to all the overpowered guns you have, although the final level features the best battle in the entire game that will really put your skills to test.

    Generally speaking, combat in Unreal is too easy even on the hardest difficulty. In comparison to what I regularly play via Doom source ports Unreal Evolution has no bite. When I play something on higher difficulties I expect myself to die, I'm ready for it, it's not a big deal. Die, improve and move forward. This doesn't happen in Unreal, instead it's "move forward" nearly 100% of time. I understand that changing the game too much was not the aim of the mod (although I would be happy to see some radical changes), but I'm playing on the hardest difficulty and it's a breeze, that's dissapointing. Especially when I see a lot of big open and emtpy areas that could've been used for combat. I've strongly complemented the pacing of the game and I understand if that is something you don't want to break. But beating encounters like the behemoths and the survival round that precedes them in the original campaign or the meatgrinder featuring everybody in the last level of the expansion made me crave more of that. There's also barely any creative use of the geometry, but I understand that it's nigh impossible to implement it without breaking the existing level structure.

    And lastly, Return to Na Pali save point locations have noticebly worse placement than the ones in the original campaign, this is, of course, only relevant if you are playing on hardcore. They are stretched too thin and the gaps between them are way too big in most scenarios, it's not a problem in a practical sense, because the game is still easy, but I felt like I had to mention it regardless.

    Nonetheless Return to Na Pali is enjoyable to play. It has still got good Unreal gameplay at it's core that doesn't really get spoiled much by some questionable additions. If you feel like you need to have more after beating the original campaign, then Return to Na Pali will be happy to deliver.

    One of the original levels of the mod. It's pretty, I don't have anything else to add about it.
    [​IMG]

    In the end though I rate this game and the mod:

    Fuck yes/10

    And I strongly recommend it to anybody. While it is very enjoyable at it's current state there's still a lot of room for improvements. I hope to see version 3 and even version 4 some day.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2020
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