Unreal is the first installment of the Unreal series, and was the first 3D venture by Epic Games and Digital Extremes. The game was approved by GT Interactive in 1996 and released on May 22, 1998 to the world, however by several accounts work on the engine actually started sometime around 1994. It was also the first game to use the Unreal Engine.
Unreal provided a single player experience along with a multiplayer mode that allowed for up to 16 players. It was rated 'M' for Mature by the ESRB for intense violence.
Synopsis[edit | edit source]
Development history[edit | edit source]
Work on Unreal began in 1994 when James Schmalz, founder of Digital Extremes, showed Cliff Bleszinski a side project he had been working on. At the time, Schmalz was creating all of his own content, and programming the game all by himself. The game had not yet been fully realized, and Schmalz was creating all of his levels on paper. According to Schmalz, the idea for the game was from DE, but Epic had the technology to realize it.
A short time later, Schmalz showed what he had been working on to Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic MegaGames (later renamed to Epic Games). Tim was impressed and began working on a level editor for Schmalz to use to build his engine. As time went on, many people became involved in the process. Some of the key people of the remote employees were Mark Rein which was brought in to do PR, Steven Polge that was hired to work on the AI and Shane Caudle who was called to make some of the game's maps. For a time, many of the people working for Epic were doing so remotely.
Early on development, the team used clay models scanned into the game. After the switch to 3D-modelling based tools such as Maya and 3DMax, these models were either deleted or heavily modified. The game missed internal deadlines, suffered delays, and lots of assets were made that never got used such as the Quadshot, named from it being a quad-barreled shotgun, which is never seen in the game. It was removed for being overpowered and redundant with the Flak Cannon, however its mesh, sounds, and script can be seen in the Editor. Also, a dragon, gargoyle, chameleon, squid, and some other creatures were shown in tech demos and displayed on pictures and ads, but none of them were ever used in the final, finished game. Some weren't seen in the game because the places which they were in were cut to avoid making a game too long to complete, others were either replaced (like the Krall, who took the place of a centaur-like creature) or removed altogether (like the Dragon), because they disturbed the quality of the game, the team behind which had the goal to make the game live to its full potential. Many maps were also cut from the final version: Soledad, Morose, Nexus, Nexus End, Mercenary Shipping Lane and Cryox. The Deathmatch maps DmMorbfanza, Sky14, DmSplash and the Kill the Cow gametype were also cut at the last moments, while DKNightOp was instead moved to the Darkmatch gametype. Other map that was considered but got cut early on was DM-Gothic, which eventually found its way very late in the development of Unreal Tournament.
Out of all those ideas, however, the one that Tim Sweeney still laments not being able to implement was to create the game as a 3D MMO back then. It's described as jumping between servers using a game hub. The cut level The Gateway is the only existing proof of that feature ever being thought.
The game was initially planned for an April 1997 release. A beta was released that year, allowing players to get a feel of the gameplay. The beta was seen at GDC (Video Game Developer Conference) '97. Those who saw the demo expected the game to be complete by this time; however, the AI was unfinished, the levels, lacking variant textures, looked repeating, the sound effects were bad, and the game was overall too long to complete in a fair time. This resulted in the development team, up to that point using a "Virtual Team" scheme, all centered in Digital Extremes Waterloo offices, returning to their homes a year later, after completing the game. Roughly one year later, the game was released and its level of detail put video game publishers on notice: a new age of gaming had arrived.
A demo was alluded to many times by various people at Epic Games throughout the life of Unreal, however the only demos that were ever released came bundled with various hardware. Many people saw this as a negative to Unreal, as there was no real way to try the game before players bought it, however Epic learned this lesson, and installments of the Unreal franchise after this game would feature playable demos, some of which did impact on sales numbers. There were also discussions for console versions, the chosen platforms being Sony's Playstation 1 (called Unreal: Rise of Jrath) and Nintendo's Nintendo 64DD. However, the dev team for the former version couldn't get the job done in time, while Epic eventually lost interest in the 64DD and its capabilities, and the device itself never made it outside of Japan. A Dreamcast port was also in the works, but GT Interactive lost the founding and it was cancelled.
The game was finally released on May 22, 1998.
Release dates[edit | edit source]
- May 22, 1998 - Unreal (PC) - 1 CD
- January 21st, 2000 - Unreal Gold (PC) - 1 CD
- Included Return to Na Pali.
- August 29, 2001 - Totally Unreal (PC) - 4 CDs
- November 6, 2006 - Unreal Anthology (PC) - 1 DVD
A full version of Unreal was released with certain S3 Video Cards to show off Unreal's S3TC capabilities. This version came with several S3TC showcase levels that can be found online.
A free trial of Unreal was released with certain Creative products to show off Unreal's EAX capabilities.
On May 22, 2018, in honor of the game's 20th anniversary, Unreal Gold was released for free on Steam and GOG for a 48-hour time period.
Post-release content[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Unreal (video game)/Release Notes
- Main article: Unreal Mission Pack: Return to Na Pali
There's a small extra level pack called "Fusion Map Pack", containing six new Deathmatch levels for the game: DM-Cybrosis, DM-Letting, DM-Loxi, DM-Mojo, DM-Shrapnel and DM-Twilight. The first map of the pack which was released was Loxi, on November 20, 1998.
In July 13, 2000 the official support ended, with the version 226f patch. Therefore, with the awareness and permission of Epic, the fan community started the OldUnreal Community patch project based on the original source code in 2007. The first patch for version 227a was released on December 26, 2007. The latest patch, for version 227i, was released in November 11, 2012, and features new graphics rendering like DirectX 9, updated OpenGL, new sound rendering based on OpenAL and fixes many incompatibilities with modern operating systems and hardware. The OldUnreal patches restore and finishes the Quadshot and Translocator and showcases them in their test Deathmatch maps. It also features new effects for maps and the implementation of Unreal Engine 2 features such as StaticMeshes and a particle effects system. The maps created with these features, however, can't be used in older versions up to the final 226f patch.
Game content[edit | edit source]
Gamemodes[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Unreal Single player
Aside of the campaign, which features both single player and co-op modes, Unreal features four multiplayer modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill and Darkmatch. With the exception of the latter, the rest of the multiplayer gametypes use the Deathmatch maps.
|Darkmatch maps for Unreal|
|Deathmatch maps for Unreal|
|Unreal Special Edition:|
|GW Press Addon:|
|OldUnreal v227 maps:|
Characters[edit | edit source]
|Characters from Unreal|
|Minor characters: |
Ash • James Cavanaugh • Benjamin Nathaniel • Boris Clague • Jonas Gershwin • S. Kroon • R. Bijl • J. Strang • N. Vos • M. v. Wely • P. v. Heel • Vandora • Chizra (god) • Ssja'Rath • Tatiana Zimna • Sergei Dubrov • M. Mottobanov • L. Goeranov • N. Onalopov • A. Connectof • William Bradford • Haith M'olner • Khan Vhranna • Duk'Choroth • Grok Vhul'rath • Dorro • Pelli Onsov • Yuri Andromov • Chakti'Nrrj • Hrang • Grorq • Mikail Leatham • Ivan Romanov • Anders Kerig • N. Onatop • Jaara • Kriin • Kruun • Shrk'Tajji
Weapons[edit | edit source]
Items[edit | edit source]
These are divided in two categories: Inventory Items and Pickup Items.
Inventory Items can be picked up and used during the course of the single player game, and a few are available in multiplayer levels. Use the bracket keys [ ] on your keyboard to select an item visible in your inventory icon bar (default controls). The currently selected item is bounded by a white box. Use the Enter key to activate an item. Activated items are highlighted in red. Press Enter a second time to deactivate an item.
Pickup Items are activated or put into use as soon as you pick them up. For this reason, it is often wise to leave a Pickup item on the ground and come back to pick it up only when you need to use it. Every Inventory item becomes pickupable in multiplayer mode.
Soundtrack[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Music#Unreal
Unreal features music in UMX file format, based on tracker music. Alexander Brandon from Straylight Productions and Michiel van den Bos were in charge of the music, with additional contributions made by Andrew "Necros" Sega and Dan "Basehead" Gardopée. Additionally there are some music tracks which were included in the game, but were not used in the original game alone. Some of these unused tracks were, however, used in Unreal Mission Pack: Return to Na Pali.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Unreal was given very good reviews and was generally accepted very well by gamers. However, shortly after the game's release, it became apparent that the multiplayer network code was not up to scratch for the 56k modem connections in wide use at the time. Due to this, the Epic MegaGames message board filled up with hundreds of posts of complaints about the poor quality of the Unreal netcode and the general need for a patch. This led to Epic's message boards being nicknamed the "Epic FlameBoards". In response, Epic released dozens of patches to the game, later including Direct3D and OpenGL support to the Software Rendering and Glide support.
Eventually, the problems with the netcode were so apparent and so prevalent that, in order to fix them, an entire rewriting of the code was needed, planting the seeds for the expansion pack that eventually became Unreal Tournament.
Damien Smith of GameSkinny named the game the number 1 "FPS game you must play before you die" on the site's list.
ServReality deemed the game as one of the best games made with Unreal technology.
The ShackNews community deemed the game the 91th. best PC game of all time.
Jon Rettinger of Techno Buffalo deemed the game as one of the 10 greatest PC games of all time, closing the list.
Awards[edit | edit source]
|Awards of Unreal|
|IGNPC.com||Best Graphics of 1998|
|Newsweek Magazine||Top 10 Video Games of 1998|
|New Media Magazine||Bronze Award for "Best Game" 1998 Invision Awards|
|Next Generation Magazine||Editor's Choice Award|
|PC Gamer Magazine||Editor's Choice Award|
Special Achievement in Graphics
Top 50 Games of All Time
Editor's Choice Award "Breakthrough Game"
Editor's Choice Award "Best Art"
|PC Review Magazine||Innovation Award|
|PC World Magazine||Top 100 Products of 1998|
|Voodoo Magazine||Editor's Choice Award|
|Adrenaline Vault||Editor's Choice Award|
|Gamesmania||Award of Excellence|
|Gamespot||Best Graphics (Technical Excellence)|
|Macworld||Macworld Game Hall of Fame|
Editor's Choice Award (Eddy) Game of the Year 1998
|C-Net Gamecenter||Macintosh Game of 1998|
Essential files[edit | edit source]
Here you will find all the links to the downloads of the essential files for your Unreal installation.
Credits[edit | edit source]
|Credits of Unreal|
|Epic Games & Digital Extremes|
|Game design||James Schmalz, Cliff Bleszinski|
|Level design||Cliff Bleszinski, T. Elliot Cannon, Cedric Fiorentino, Pancho Eekels, Jeremy War, Shane Caudle|
|Artists||James Schmalz, Mike Leatham, Artur Bialas|
|Programmers||Tim Sweeney (Engine), Steven Polge (Game & AI), Erik de Neve (Effects), Carlo Vogelsang (Audio), James Schmalz & Nick Michon (Scripting)|
|Musicians||Alexander Brandon, Michiel van den Bos|
|Sound effects||Dave Ewing|
|Epic Biz||Jay Wilbur, Mark Rein, Nigel Kent, Craig Lafferty|
|Executive Producer||Greg Williams|
|Lead Tester||Joel Maximillion Breton|
|Product Manager||Ken Gold|
|Assistant Product Manager||Phil Tucker|
|Public Relations Manager||Alan Lewis|
|Director of Creative Services||Leslie Mills|
|Creative Director||Vic Merritt|
|Artists||Michael Marrs, Jill Pomper, Lesley Zinn, Jen Scheerer|
|Production Corordinator||Liz Fierro|
|Box Design||Vic Merritt, Leslie Mills|
|Lead Tester||Mike Barker|
|Second||Jim Tricario, Dan McJilton|
|Testers||Mike Barker, Jim Tricario, Dan McJilton, Dave Munro, Andre Cerny, Cormac Russell, Jesse Smith, Clint McCaul, Fran Katsimpiris, Corey Allen, Ed Piper, Barry Gilchrist, Adam Coleman, Chris Carr, Chris McGuirk, Randy Denmyer, Kevin Keith, Thomas Watkins, Dave Afdahl, Andy Mazurek, Matt Kutrik, Troy Kupich, Jake Grimshaw, Mark Leary, Matt Miller, Ian Giffen, Justin Dull, Calvin Grove, Ruben Brown, Mike Prendergast, Geoff Gessner, Steven Rhodes, Rocco Rinaldi, Jim Biltz|
|Mark Poesch (UnrealEd enhancements), Andrew Sega (additional music), Dan Gardopée (additional music), Chad Faragher, Nick Oddson, Chris Hargett, DJ Carroll, Diane Schmalz, Shannon Newans, Evelyn Eekels, Lani Minella, Gina Hedges, Ryan Schwartz, Mark Visser, Richard Young, Mike Forge, Eric Reuter (Additional Level Design), and the guys at UnrealNation and Unreal.org.|
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- The song "Isotoxin" is featured as the opening song of another game, called "In Pursuit of Greed".
- A full install of Unreal uses around 420 MB of hard drive space.
- The manual contains the line "In memory of Myscha and Pelit" in the Credits section. These names also appear in the level Bluff Eversmoking, in the cemetery portion. They refer to T. Elliot Cannon's mascots Myscha and Pelit, who died during the development of the game.
[edit | edit source]
- "Unreal Struts Its Stuff". IGN (February 23, 1999). Retrieved May 23, 2019.
- "Unreal". Entertainment Software Rating Board. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
- Callaham, John (September 24, 2002). "Unreal Championship Interview". HomeLAN Fed. Archived from the original on October 17, 2002. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
- "History of Unreal - Part 1". BeyondUnreal (31 May 2005). Archived from the original on 14 October 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
- Caldwell, Brendan (5 June 2018). "A retrospective of Unreal, from the people who made it". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
- "Errata". GW Press. Archived from the original on 9 Oct 1999. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
- Leo(T.C.K.) (November 21, 2018). "Dm Gothic is a 1997 Unreal level". UT99.org forums. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
- Lombardi, Doug (August 1, 1997). "The Magnificent Seven: 3D Shooter Showdown - Unreal". GameCenter. Archived from the original on February 3, 1999. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
- Totilo, Stephen (December 7, 2011). "The Quiet Tinkerer Who Makes Games Beautiful Finally Gets His Due". Kotaku. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- "Epic's Unreal Plans for PlayStation 2". IGN (August 6, 1999). Retrieved May 22, 2019.
- Kollin, Mike (June 2, 2000). "Did Somebody Say Unreal Tournament on DC?". IGN. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
- "New Unreal DM Map from Epic!". Unreal.com (November 20, 1998). Archived from the original on December 3, 1998. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
- de Neve, Erik (July 13, 2000). "Final Unreal 1 Patch Released". Epic Games. Archived from the original on August 15, 2000. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
- Meer, Alec (12 November 2012). "Patchy Like It's 1998: Unreal 1 Updated". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
- "227 Release Notes". OldUnreal. Retrieved Sep 29, 2020.
- "Unreal (Epic Megagames): Game rip". Mirsoft.info. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
- Reinhart, Brandon (June 9, 2000). "Postmortem: Epic Games' Unreal Tournament". Gamasutra. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
- Smith, Damien (November 19 2016). "Kickin' Ass and Chewin' Bubble Gum: 20 FPS Games You Must Play Before You Die". GameSkinny. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
- "The List of The Best Games Made With Unreal Technology". ServReality (May 14, 2019). Retrieved May 25, 2019.
- Mejia, Ozzie (September 22, 2014). "PC Games of All-Time: #100-80". ShackNews. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
- Rettinger, Jon (October 28, 2009). "Top 10 Greatest PC Games of All Time". Techno Buffalo. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
- Keighley, Geoffrey. "Blinded By Reality: The True Story Behind the Creation of Unreal". Gamespot. Archived from the original on May 12, 2008. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
- Unreal @ Wikipedia
- Unreal (video game) @ TVTropes.org
See also[edit | edit source]
- Unreal II: The Awakening
- Unreal Mission Pack: Return to Na Pali
- Unreal Gold
- Totally Unreal
- Unreal Deal Pack
|Unreal series: Unreal • Return to Na Pali • Unreal II|
|Tournament series: Unreal Tournament • UT2003 • UT2004 • UT3 • UT4|
|Championship series: Unreal Championship - Unreal Championship 2|
|Books: Unreal: Hard Crash - Unreal: Prophet's Power - Escape to Na Pali: A Journey to the Unreal|