Before its release in April 1998, it was clear that Unreal would make a big impact on the PC gaming market. At that time, the Nintendo 64 was the most graphically impressive console, only to be outdone by the Sega Dreamcast a year later. Around this period of time, PC graphics were improving at such a rapid rate, that it seemed like each new GPU generation actually did give you an enormous increase in fidelity.
Let's throw some nostalgic at you. A mere month before Unreal hit the store shelves (remember when PC games were found at retail?), 3dfx Interactive released its much-anticipated Voodoo2. At around the same time, NVIDIA released its Riva128ZX and Riva TNT. At this point, AMD (then ATI) had been preparing for the launch of its Rage XL and Rage 128 series. If you were a modern ATI gamer at the time, you probably would have had the Rage Pro, which came out in early 1997.
HIS Arcade 3dfx Voodoo2 - Credit: VGA Museum
Whoever had any one of these graphics solutions was treated to something special when first loading up Unreal. A flyby through an eerie castle. This wasn't an ordinary intro: it existed to show off what was possible with 3D graphics at the time. I personally remember (literally) dropping my jaw when this intro swooped down to the water below, which looked really realistic by the standards of those days. It felt amazing to be a PC gamer during this period, because we simply had not seen graphics like this before.
It's no surprise, then, that a lot of people hold this intro close to their hearts, and that one ambitious fan took it upon himself to recreate the entire thing in Unreal Engine 4. Oh yes, you want to see this! But first, if you don't remember the original, or haven't seen it before, here it is in all of its glory:
And here's the UE4 version, recreated by Tomasz Szabłowski:
It's clear that Tomasz cared a lot about this project, because the result is simply outstanding. In fact, many who watch it might suddenly want to see the game completely remade in UE4, and it'd be for good reason: the game wasn't just graphically impressive, it was a lot of fun to play (unlike Daikatana which came out two years later).
Perhaps someday, Unreal will in fact be remade. In the meantime though, Epic is hard at work on creating what could be the best Unreal Tournament iteration ever. Let's be thankful that Unreal is one series that has never completely disappeared - it's an absolute classic.