Unreal is a series of first person shooter games based on the original title Unreal by Epic Games (formerly Epic MegaGames).
At UnrealSP.org, our primary focus is on the single-player and co-op experiences of Unreal Gold (the original Unreal from 1998 + the expansion Return to Na Pali) and custom levels designed by fans, for both Unreal Gold and Unreal Tournament. The Unreal series as a whole is more than those titles, however.
Below, a brief recap of the series entries thus far.
1998 Epic Megagames
The original title and the basis of this site, Unreal is a single player-based shooter in which you, a prisoner in a prison transport vessel, crash land on a beautiful alien world. As you seek out a way off the planet, you will meet various races; primarily, the peaceful native Nali, and the hostile reptilian Skaarj who are occupying the planet to mine it for its mineral deposits.
With a powerful engine rendering some beautiful graphics in stunning levels, immersive sound effects and a superb musical score, this game has the power to create an atmosphere - which is probably why we like it so much here.
Unreal: Return to Na Pali
1999 Legend Entertainment
The official mission pack for Unreal sees the same character return to the surface after being rescued in space by the military. A military ship on a secret weapons research project has crash-landed on the planet and must be found. Returning to the Nali world, you find the Skaarj still in control and the Nali still suppressed, even though you killed the Skaarj queen.
The mission pack is a welcome revisit to the Unreal theme, released a year after the original game, although not introducing much really new. The additional levels are of pretty good quality and the soundtrack very good too. While it's not quite Unreal, it's still good stuff.
1999 Epic Megagames
Unreal Tournament is Epic's multiplayer-based game, providing a variety of deathmatch-based games including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Last Man Standing, Capture the Flag, Domination in which your team seeks to control three points on the map, and Assault where you work as a team to attack a level defended by the enemy team, completing objectives on the way.
Unreal Tournament features a great diversity of fighting arenas including high-tech facilities, ancient temples, space ships and stations, an oil rig, a galleon and many many more. An enhanced version of the Unreal engine produces flashy graphics, while a good soundtrack bolsters up excellent sound effects. There is no single player mission for the game besides a bot ladder, but UT with Usaar33's "Oldskool" mod is the platform of choice for many modern Unreal SP map packs.
Unreal Tournament 2003
2002 Digital Extremes
Unreal Tournament 2003 has been developed alongside the Xbox title Unreal Championship. In a similar way to the console title, UT2003 is a sequel to the original multiplayer game of 1999. The first game released to use the new Warfare Engine, UT2003 presents high-adrenaline action in spectacular environments, and supports the classic gametypes of Deathmatch and CTF, plus new entrants Double Domination and Bombing Run. It does not, however, support any single player gameplay besides the botmatch modes. Unfortunately, the selection of maps shipped with the game is slightly disappointing - an issue remedied in part by the two bonus packs released for the game, but the balance of the game still feels "off".
Thankfully, the largely experimental UT2003 has been superseded by the far superior UT2004.
2002 Digital Extremes
Unreal Championship is a sequel to Unreal Tournament and is available exclusively for the new Xbox console. While us PC hoes will not be able to play it unless we possess such a console, the recently released Unreal Tournament 2003 provides a variant of the game for the PC platform.
Unreal II: The Awakening
2003 Legend Entertainment
Unreal II: The Awakening is the single player sequel to Unreal. Using a heavily beefed up Unreal engine, this game takes place on several planets across flowing terrains and high-detail buildings. It takes place in the same universe as Unreal but bears no connection to Unreal except for the Skaarj. The game in itself is on the disappointing side, lacking atmosphere for many Unreal fans.
It seemed as if it's main strength would be as a new modding platform, sadly this didn't come to pass as the Unreal Engine 2 modding tools provided were very buggy, and while attempts to fix them were made, it was too little too late as most moved on to either newer games or went back to Unreal 1/Tournament modding.
Unreal Tournament 2004
2004 Epic Games / Digital Extremes
Unreal Tournament 2004 takes the problems of UT2003 and remedies them, and the heap of original content provided with the game blasts its predecessor out of the water. In particular, the new vehicle-driven "Onslaught" mode provides for action-packed entertainment. Incorporating all the maps from UT2003 as well as its bonus packs as well as over 40 completely new maps, UT2004 truly is a behemoth of a game. However, there is still no support for single player gameplay out of the box - except for the rather intelligent bots, of course.
Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict
2005 Epic Games
Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict is the sequel to Unreal Championship. A hybrid first-person shooter and third-person action game, Unreal Championship 2 takes the gameplay in a new direction with the introduction of melee combat in addition to the tradtional gunplay expected from the Unreal franchise. However, the console-exclusive nature of this installment (as with its predecessor) unfortunately makes it an unsuitable candidate for custom content, and as such it offers no possibility for single-player modding.
Unreal Tournament 3
2007 Epic Games
Unreal Tournament 3 ushers in a new era with the debut of Unreal Engine 3 and its plethora of new graphical enhancements, and is the first installment in the franchise to be released for multiple platforms - with support for custom content across all. Despite its name, it foregoes a tournament for a series of levels loosely connected by a Necris war storyline. There's little that connects it to Unreal, though the Krall and Stinger appear in re-imagined forms, and a Na Pali-themed level was included in the Titan Bonus Pack.
Unreal Tournament 4 (Alpha)
2018 Epic Games
Unreal Tournament 4 is the latest (and most likely final) entry of the Unreal franchise. From its inception in 2014, Epic's intention to work on this game arm-in-arm with the community was at the forefront, as was the game's free-to-play nature. Expectations were cut short however, as Epic withdrew from the project before ultimately cancelling it in 2018 as all focus was moved to supporting Fortnite, Unreal Engine, and the Epic Games Store.