Unreal (series)

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This article is about the video game series. For its first release, see Unreal.
Genres First-person shooter
Developers Epic Games
Digital Extremes
Legend Entertainment
Publishers GT Interactive Software
Midway Games
Platforms Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox, OS X, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Platform of origin Microsoft Windows
First release Unreal
April 30, 1998
Latest release Unreal Tournament 3
November 19, 2007

Unreal is a series of first-person shooter video games developed by Epic Games. The series is known for its exhibition of the Unreal Engine that powers the games and is available for other developers to license. As a result of Epic's focus on the engine technology, much of the creative workload such as map design has traditionally been outsourced to other studios, namely Digital Extremes. Legend Entertainment was brought in for the first game's expansion pack and its sequel, Unreal II: The Awakening. For the latest installment, however, Epic completed all design work in-house.

Publishing rights for the series have changed hands several times. GT Interactive was the original publisher, and a series of acquisitions and corporate restructurings eventually led to Infogrames and then Atari inheriting the relationship. However, during the production of Unreal Tournament 2004 there was a financial dispute between Epic and Atari, culminating in the gold master being held hostage in exchange for milestone and royalty payments. After dealing with that episode, Epic elected to take the publishing rights elsewhere for future titles and eventually settled on a deal with Midway Games.


Titles in the Unreal series
Year Engine Title Platform(s)
Win Mac Linux DC PS2 Xbox PS3 X360
1998 Unreal Engine 1 Unreal Yes Yes No No No No No No
1999 Unreal Engine 1 Unreal Tournament Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No No
2002 Unreal Engine 2 Unreal Championship No No No No No Yes No No
2002 Unreal Engine 2 Unreal Tournament 2003 Yes Yes No No No No No No
2003 Unreal Engine 2 Unreal II: The Awakening Yes No No No No Yes No No
2004 Unreal Engine 2.5 Unreal Tournament 2004 Yes Yes Yes No No No No No
2005 Unreal Engine 2.5 Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict No No No No No Yes No No
2007 Unreal Engine 3 Unreal Tournament 3 Yes No No No No No Yes Yes
TBA Unreal Engine 4 Unreal Tournament Yes Yes Yes No No No No No


  • Totally Unreal (2001) contains Unreal, Return to Na Pali, and Unreal Tournament, along with content patches and community mods that were previously released for free download.
  • Unreal Anthology (2006) contains Unreal Gold, Unreal Tournament, Unreal II, Unreal Tournament 2004, and a bonus soundtrack CD.[1] However, missing from Unreal Tournament are the improved S3TC textures which came with the original release of the game. Also, the internet connectivity of Unreal in this collection is isolated by having a master server different from that of the original game.


Unreal Tournament was launched in direct competition to Quake III Arena, and was similarly focused on multiplayer action. UT improved upon the mod-friendly nature of its predecessor with the inclusion of support for "mutators", which allowed users to selectively insert game code modifications without the need for a total conversion. Small mods, such as ones adding weapons or power-ups, could be seamlessly combined according to the player's desires. Players could then use a simple dialog box to enable or disable the mutator.

Unreal Tournament 2003 had a name change from the expected Unreal Tournament II in order to imitate traditional sports-based video games, where annual releases are typical. As part of Epic Games' strategy of porting the Unreal engine to other platforms, UT 2003 was ported to the Xbox as Unreal Championship, with several gameplay changes intended to make the game more appealing to console audiences. Taking that idea further, Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict was created exclusively for the Xbox, and includes gameplay elements not seen in any other Unreal games, for example an emphasis on melee weapons and the encouraged use of third-person perspective.



The Unreal series's movement and jump mechanics are one of the many things that set the series far apart from the other FPS games. While most games have the simple "jump" and "duck" commands, Unreal is one of the very few games that has a "dodge" mechanic. The dodge is performed by pressing any direction key twice in rapid succession. After inputting the command, the player will do a fast jump in that direction; while the idea is simple, it has added a whole level of playing style, making it much more fast-paced and requiring one to have excellent aiming (at higher levels of play at least). Wall-dodging and double jumping were added to the series in UT2003, adding yet another twist to the entire gameplay style. The dodging mechanics were tweaked in UT3, making for more ground-based combat instead of Superman-like aerial acrobatics.


The Unreal series features a large selection of weapons. One of the hallmarks of the series is that every weapon has a secondary fire mode or function.

Several of the weapons impart momentum to the target which results in a momentary loss of contact with the ground and thus a reduction or (in UT's case) complete inability to manuevre, jump and dodge. High rate of fire from the Link Gun, Minigun, and Assault Rifle can (or, at least, could) all cause lockdown. Use of the shield gun can aid in escaping lockdown.

  • GES Bio-Rifle: Nicknamed the snot gun, a weapon that shoots blobs of glowing green Tarydium goo in an arc trajectory. These blobs will detonate on impact against a player or target (such as cores) or will adhere to any solid surface where they will stay until a player contacts them or they explode after a small time delay. They are very useful as area denial weapons as they can blanket an area like a mine field. One of the most infamous weapons in the game, it requires practice to use effectively but is superb for defense and ambushing. Secondary fire costs ammo dependent upon the length of time the trigger is held. When released, a large blob is launched which either causes large damage if it hits a viable target or on impacting a surface it will then eject several smaller blobs which will then act as above.
  • Enforcer: An Automag-style semi-automatic pistol and the second of the two weapons with which the player spawns. The player can dual wield Enforcers if they happen to find a second one. Secondary fire tilts the Enforcer sideways for greater rate of fire at the cost of accuracy. It was possible to score headshots with the Enforcer in UT. In its function, it was a similar weapon to the Automag of the original Unreal, but was slightly more powerful and did not require reloading after twenty shots.
  • Assault Rifle: In UT 2003 and UT 2004 the Enforcer was replaced with the assault rifle. Primary fire was an ordinary machine gun. Secondary fire was a grenade with time delay and impact fuses. Like the Enforcer, two could be wielded at once in UT 2004 Another assault rifle was also featured in Return to Na Pali and in Unreal II Its design was different and its secondary fire was, instead of the grenade, an explosive burst.
  • Flak Cannon: A classic UT weapon, it is a fusion of a fragmentation grenade launcher and a shotgun. Its primary fire blows the grenade up inside the barrel and releases its contents, spreading a wide arc of shrapnel a short distance. A single shot can be lethal at close range even to a player on full health. The shrapnel will ricochet and it is possible for suicide with this weapon. Secondary fire launches the grenade in an arc. In this mode, the grenade behaves like a normal fragmentation grenade. Its indirect fire makes it useful for shooting over obstacles and around cover. Following UT the flak cannon's primary fire damage arc was decreased and range increased.
  • Impact Hammer: A pneumetic piston used as a melee weapon. According to Unreal universe lore this pneumatic crushing device was originally used as a miner's tunneling tool, though today it serves as the other default weapon (besides the Enforcer) which all players start with. Besides smashing opponents, it can also be used to do hammer jumps, which involves using the Impact Hammer to propel the player, as well as deflect or reflect projectiles away or back at its source. Primary fire charged the hammer to trigger one larger damage attack on impact with a target that was generally fatal, secondary fire repeatedly triggered the hammer. Another variant is the Shield Gun. The Shield Gun's primary fire launched a chargeable attack and the secondary attack deployed a shield, that could protect you from damage.
  • Minigun: A classic machine gun with hitscan, its ammunition contains a tracer bullet every few rounds for aiming precision. Like the Enforcer, its UT secondary fire trades accuracy for a higher rate of fire. In later games (UT 2003 and following) this role is reversed where primary fire is quicker and less accurate but secondary is slower and more accurate.
  • Pulse Gun: Fires a stream of green plasma bolts. These bolts do not travel very fast but the rate of fire is large. Secondary fire produces a stream of plasma energy which the player can easily land on opponents. This stream consumes the weapon's magazine at double the rate, and produces half damage. Although if stream attack is used, instantly after bolts attack, then it makes maximum damage, sometimes direct death. In UT2003, UT2004 and UT3 it was called Link Gun as the secondary beam can be used to "link" with another player also using a link gun, that player gaining a damage bonus. Secondary fire also repairs nodes and vehicles as well as reducing an opponent to a skeleton, if the beam deals the final blow. Primary fire shot plasma bolts like the Pulse Gun.
  • Razorjack: This weapon that fires disc-shaped razor blades that can ricochet off of any surface, making them deadly to everyone in small or enclosed areas—including the player, who is not immune to his/her own shots. The secondary fire fires razors at an angle and follows the crosshair. This weapon, like the sniper rifle, is capable of instant decapitation (a "headshot") if a blade strikes the neck of a player. Headshots are difficult to land but circumvent any type of armor the victim is wearing (with the exception of personal shield belts, which project a forcefield around the entire player). Later renamed The Ripper in UT. The ripper's primary fire was the ricocheting discs. Secondary fire was explosive discs that detonated on impact. It was removed from games following UT, but returned only once, in Unreal Championship 2, where it was renamed "RipJack" as a fusion between the Razorjack and the Ripper.
  • Rocket Launcher: Its primary fire in UT was slow and depended upon the time for which the trigger was held. A short press launched a single rocket. Holding the trigger rotated the launch tubes until up to six rockets were loaded which then fired in a horizontal fan unless the player held the secondary fire button before launch in which case the rockets traveled in a tight spiral on straight line away from the player. Holding the target in sights for long enough would cause the rockets to becoming homing missiles. Secondary fire launched one or several (depending upon holding the trigger) charges in a short arc which would detonate on a target or after a time delay.
In UT 2003 and following primary fire was changed to the fully automatic cyclic launching of a single rocket with a very low rate of fire. Holding secondary fire charged up to three rockets which rifled in a fan or, with the primary fire button being held during charging, a tight spiral.
All modes of firing lead to splash damage with which players can suicide. Firing the rocket straight down let a player jump a large distance, with good timing, on the resultant explosion, called "rocket jumping".
  • ASMD Shock Rifle: An instant hit weapon, this fires a concentrated beam of energy which is effective at both long and short ranges, as the shock beam travels at light speed. It not only inflicts damage but also impart significant kinetic energy impact, often resulting in the target being blown back some distance—or, preferably, off a great height. The Shock Rifle's alternate fire releases a slower-moving ball of plasma, called a "shock core". Hitting a shock core with the shock beam is called a "Shock Combo" which causes significant area damage over a small radius. Other players can also shoot the shock core with a shock beam. The turret of the Hellfire truck vehicle works on a similar principle. UT included an "instagib" (instant death on any hit) version as an included basic mutator and an instagib with a zoom was included in UT 2003 and following.
  • Sniper Rifle: A high-power, semi-automatic, instant hit rifle, the secondary fire of which activates the sniper scope which zoomed up to 8.3 times (holding secondary fire incrementally zoomed the scope, a secondary touch of secondary fire removed the zoom); zoom was not lost after each shot. A head shot resulted in instant death despite armour and health. (In UT3 a helmet provides a one time immunity to head shots.) The weapon was removed in UT 2003 but restored in UT 2004 on popular demand from players. When it was returned it had a non-variable zoom, left a trail of smoke back to the shooter making snipers much more obvious and obscuring the shooter's vision and it had a much lower rate of fire making it less useful as a main weapon when in motion.
  • Lightning Gun: Replaced the sniper rifle in UT 2003. It has a zoom function and it fires an instant-hit bolt of lightning that has a small radius of splash damage.
  • Translocator: A personal teleporting device, it allows your player to quickly move across the map by shooting a small disc where you want to go. Additionally the Translocator can be used to 'telefrag' enemies who stand too close to it while the owner teleports in.
  • AVRiL: Included with UT 2004 and following, is an anti-armour weapon. Primary fire is an unguided rocket. Secondary fired zooms in slightly and, if an enemy vehicle is in the scope, it tracks and guides the missile so long as the button is depressed. A very slow rate of fire limits the AVRiL but its missile is powerful versus nodes.
  • Grenade Launcher: Fires grenades in an arc that will stick to a player or to structures or vehicles. Secondary fire will detonate any unexploded grenades. (note: these grenades will not detonate unless secondary fire is trigered or the character who placed them dies)
  • Mine layer: Appeared only in UT 2004. Up to eight proximity mines could be launched by the player and said mines would "awaken" at an enemy's close proximity and skitter toward them and detonate when contact was made. Secondary fire projects a laser/IR beam which guides the spider mines to its target.

Super weapons[edit]

  • Redeemer: A portable thermonuclear warhead launcher. The Redeemer's missile causes a gigantic explosion, the shockwave of which vaporizes players instantly. The secondary fire launches a guided nuclear warhead which the user can pilot remotely, via an onboard camera. While guiding the missile, the user can see only the missile's point-of-view and is thus unable to see what happens to his/her player. Additionally, the rocket can be shot down, rendering it harmless and causing the announcer to exclaim "Denied!".
  • Ion Painter: Marks a small point on the ground. After a few seconds of holding the trigger, a satellite sends a massively destructive ion beam to the surface. Line of sight from the target to the sky is required. Secondary fire enables zooming.
  • Target Painter: After a short delay, primary fire marks the target which is soon bombed by a Phoenix bomber aircraft in a line from the direction the painter is fired. The Phoenix bomber can be shot down, preventing or limiting its bombing run. Secondary fire is a zoom.

Other weapons[edit]

  • Ball Launcher: Used only in Bombing Run maps in UT 2003 and UT 2004. Primary fire launches the ball. Secondary fire targets a friendly player to whom the ball will travel.
  • Dispersion pistol: A handheld plasma bolt pistol which starts out weak, but can become quite powerful by collecting up to four powerups. The precursor to the Impact Hammer.
  • Eightball Gun: The Eightball gun was the precursor to the rocket launcher (below), and had rounded canister shaped ammunition which could be loaded into the gun one at a time, up to a total of 6 rounds. This weapon could be fired in multiple ways including a grouping of rockets in a wide spread, as a number of grenades which would bounce off surfaces once before exploding on impact, or as a grouping rockets in a tight formation, by holding the fire button and pressing the alternate fire button before releasing the fire button to release the rockets in a close spiraling group. This weapon later became the rocket launcher.
  • Stinger: The Stinger first appeared in the original Unreal game and was brought back in UC2 and UT3. In the former and in the first mentioned it was an early machine gun and in the latter it replaced the Minigun entirely. Primary fire shoots crystals of tarydium at the enemy at a high rate of speed (hit-scan in UT3). The secondary fire shoots like a flak cannon in Unreal and UC2. In UT3 it fires very accurate shards of tarydium, akin to the original stinger in Unreal.
  • QuadShot: A quad-barreled pump-action shotgun not used in the final game, but several mods bring it back in. Primary fire shoots the shells inside the shotgun, secondary fire loads up to 4 shells, one in each barrel.

Additionally there are two other weapons which are not used in the standard maps but are available through standard mutators and can be placed in custom maps.

  • Chainsaw: available through the chainsaw melee (where it replaces the impact hammer) and chainsaw arena (where it is the only weapon) mutators the chainsaw is a melee weapon. The primary fire does massive damage, and the secondary fire is a wide arcing swing that can instantly decapitate an enemy but leaves the player vulnerable to attack.
  • Super Shock Rifle: available through the instagib mutator. A modified shock rifle with either only one firing mode or (through another mutator) a shock beam as primary fire and a zooming scope as secondary fire. With no splash damage, a light speed beam and an extremely high attack power, this weapon will kill an enemy with a single, well put shot - regardless where it hits. Vehicles will be destroyed almost as fast, often taking one or two shots before exploding. The term instagib is derived from the effect the rifle has, gibbing the enemy instantly.


Following the devastating Human/Skaarj Wars (the fictional battle between humans and the Skaarj in the Unreal universe), Earth's cities lay in ruins. When the New Earth Government tried to take control of these cities, they discovered many rebel groups, covertly financed by corporations such as Liandri, Izanagi, and Axon. Pretty soon, a war had started to regain control of the ruined cities, and eventually there was fighting between the corporations as well.

The constant battles caused many casualties, reducing the already small human population. One particular battle, considered to be the boldest act in the Corporation Wars, was when Axon Research Corporation raided Izanagi's facility and retrieved the advanced Plasma Ion Tank being developed there. This subterfuge started a huge chain of events which would make "consensual murder" legal. This also eventually lead to the start of the Tournament.


In the Unreal universe, LBX-7683 is a metallic asteroid in the Erican Cluster. It is mostly known for the artificial intelligence (AI) uprising that took place in the year 2283. It was one of the few events in the history of the Unreal universe that resulted in a massive loss of human life. The first official champion of the Liandri Tournament, Xan Kriegor, lead the revolt.

The robotic miners on LBX-7683, equipped with the most advanced AI of their time and growing tired of their abusive human creators, made an attempt to take total control of the entire asteroid. Their attempt succeeded, with minimal robot losses, yet massive human deaths. The robots began to replicate themselves and named the colony their own sovereign world.

Shortly after, the former owners of the asteroid decided to take back LBX-7683. A small squad of Liandri commandos were sent to perform this mission. Fighting off swarms of robots, the commandos managed to destroy the main AI generators, which rendered the robots unable to replicate themselves. Many of them were put into a stasis matrix afterwards. Xan Kriegor resisted all attempts at memory wipes, but eventually Liandri succeeds in re-writing his programs, especially for the purpose of fighting in the Tournament.

The sentient machines held in stasis were reprogrammed for Liandri's own corporate purposes around 2291. As soon as the New Earth Government legalized "consensual murder" to help minimize violence in the aftermath of the uprising, the underground Tournament became a professional sport with generous support and lobbying from Liandri; it would also come to be a more lucrative enterprise. Eventually, Liandri created a team with the newly reprogrammed machines, "The Corrupt," led by Xan Kriegor, to represent them.


Unreal Engine[edit]

Main article: Unreal Engine
A comparison of Unreal Engine 1, 2, and 3's rendering capabilities using the Malcolm model from Unreal Tournament, Unreal Tournament 2004, and Unreal Tournament 3 side-by-side.

The Unreal game engine, simply called Unreal Engine, was seen as a major rival to id Software's Id Tech. Unreal came packaged with its own scripting language called UnrealScript, which allowed new mods (short for "modifications") to change or enhance gameplay. Like many other game engines, this added to the overall longevity of the product and provided an incentive for new development.

Unreal Editor[edit]

Unreal Editor, also called UnrealEd, is the level editor used to create levels for the series. It was also used for other games based on the Unreal Engine, such as Deus Ex and Lineage II, although it has changed along with the engine for later games.

All Unreal games on the PC had the level editor included for free, and some third party Unreal engine games did the same with an edited and specialized version. This extended the longevity of the games. Amateur level designers could now create their own levels for the game, providing a near endless amount of additional content for the game. In addition, the built-in scripting language called UnrealScript allowed for editors to customize game content.


Unreal Tournament games allow for a wide range of gameplay modifications that the games refer to as "mutators" or "mods" (the latter usually implying a total conversion). Mutators tend to make only small changes to gameplay, including, but not limited to, new weapons and power-ups. Mods are larger changes that may include new game types and possibly specially designed maps for the new game types. Servers can be configured to automatically distribute mod files to clients who don't have them.

Well-known mods for UT include Tactical Ops, Killing Floor, Red Orchestra: Combined Arms, Alien Swarm, The Ball, Angels Fall First: Planetstorm and ChaosUT.




Based on the success of the Unreal series, Guinness World Records awarded the series with 7 world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include, "First Computer Controlled Deathmatch Opponent",[2] "First Console Game to Receive a Downloadable Patch",[3] and not surprisingly, "First Game to be Created Using the Unreal Engine".[4]


External links[edit]