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Author Topic: Unreal Tournament - Operation: Na Pali  (Read 507 times)


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Unreal Tournament - Operation: Na Pali
« on: December 26, 2006, 04:07:22 PM »
I recently finished this game for the second time, and felt like drawing the interest of others to it, so here goes. Operation: Na Pali is a free single-player addon to Unreal Tournament. UT was one of those games that got modded a whole lot, and where there was a very creative mod culture around - not as vibrant as the community of the Thief games (which boasts hundreds upon hundreds of free single-player missions and complete campaigns, some much better than commercial games), but impressive enough. Most of these were single player maps; well, ONP is something different.

ONP is an unofficial sequel to the original Unreal game. Set on a low-tech planet inhabited by the peaceful Nali race and cruel, genocidel alien invaders called the Skaarj (insectoid, and pretty similar to Predators), Unreal was one of the best pre-Half Life FPS games. There was very little actual innovation (Duke Nukem 3D had way more in its time), but the interplay of great graphics, great music and flawless, compelling level design created a great experience that’s still enjoyable today. In comparison, the mission disk and the sequel is considered uninspired by most (I don’t own either, and can’t comment any further on them).

Operation: Na Pali, a fan project apparently created by a bunch of bored German teenagers, is one of those rare labours of love that could have easily been sold as mission disks, or even a complete game. There are 36 levels from moderate to long length, all but a few built very well; with great architecture and good flow. In the grand Unreal tradition of mixing together a lot of weird shit, there are ancient fantasy temples, underground Skaarj bases with profoundly ugly technology, picturesque valleys and floating islands. Most are unique creations, but there are also a few “revisits” to Unreal locations - always given enough twists to make these encounters entertaining. In particular, there are a whole lot of grandiose places, like fucking big canyons or immense halls - clichéd, but certainly impressive.

Beyond architecture, programming deserves a lot of praise. There are enough scripted sequences and cut scenes to make the game more entertaining, but not enough to draw too much time away from action (all cut scenes use the ingame engine). Unlike Unreal, ONP uses UT bots, meaning that on several levels, you can have several allies fighting on your side, armed with weapons from pulse guns to rocket launchers and razor blades. On the other hand, the Skaarj also have access to the same, making for some tough, tough battles. There are also levels where you must commandeer a small skaarj flying vessel and avoid obstacles - one is good, while the other is freaking impressive.

Finally, on feel. Unreal had a very characteristic and particular style; it was an amalgam of many styles (well, a lot like D&D or RIFTS - created by throwing a lot of diverse cool stuff together) blended together while still making the whole work. ONP’s creators got it perfectly. The mod plays exactly like Unreal (but with the aforementioned updates); it links levels seamlessly and captures the wonder and mystery it had in addition to intense action. There is even a touch of melancholia, a sentiment notably absent from computer games (or RPGs for that matter). That’s no small feat, and worth lauding.

All in all, ONP is a great game. It is much better than your average mod, much better than even the majority of commercial titles, and a worthy successor to Unreal. Check it out and have fun with it - it makes for about two days of play if you don’t rush it. You will need a copy of Unreal Tournament, the most recent patch, something called the “OldSkool mod” that adds Unreal weapons to UT, and the main package itself. All files and instructions can be had here: