It is also the 20th anniversary of Epic Games Unreal Engine first release.
The Unreal Engine is currently the most popular game engine of the gaming industry but the first game using it is almost forgotten or unknown to most youngsters: UNREAL have never been the "Quake Killer" as the media used to say at the time, yet this FPS game is a classic worth replaying and remember as much as the other big names of the time period.
Many remember Unreal Tournament as the first entry of the series but the previous UNREAL is a great showcase of the "new" Unreal Engine and of what FPS games were heading for in the years to come.
Developed in conjunction with Digital Extremes (Pariah, The Darkness II, Warframe devs) and released the 22nd of May 1998, the game puts the player in a unknown planet as a stranded prisoner survived from a spaceship crash landing, fighting a technologically reptilian alien race and its inferior slaves from other subjUgated planets. While the plot isn't spectacular by any means, the presence of heartbreaking electronic logs left behind by other unfortunate survivors enrich widely the whole atmophere of the game, all of which was a new thing for FPS games.
Obviously the game was also a milestone in games technology thanks to the Unreal Engine: introducing different real time solutions that become the standard for many games after it, the engine introduced tech like colored lighting, multi textured surfaces (which swapped on the fly object textures with very high resolution ones as the player view gets closer) and support for many 3D accelerated graphical APIs like 3dfx Glide, Direct3D and S3 MeTal. The game was also heavily moddable and included its own scripting language and an innovative map editor, the latter was revolutionary since it let the designer see its creations rendered in real time as in the game.
Epic Games was amongst the best companies of the golden era of PC gaming and UNREAL is a perfect example of the period. Now that the game is 20 years old you can play it again since it is available "for free and to keep forever" on GoG.com and Steam till 24th of May.
Did you play this game? Did you like it or did you prefer Quake 1 and 2? Let us know with a comment!