Friday, September 16, 2005

Review: Unreal Championship 2

I recently picked up "Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict" for Xbox. I'd read a few reviews of it and heard it was good, and I'd always had an interest in it. Unreal has always been a distracting game for me. I never really take it seriously, so it's always a good way to pass the time. It's definitely one of the FPS series which defines "Fragtacular." As the name specifies, it is in no way realistic at all, which is a great benefit.

Set in the future, The Liandri corporation hosts a deathmatch tournament known as the "Unreal Tournament." This game is a prelude to the tournament, a qualifying match whose winner goes on to partake in the tournament. The story mode is a basic collection of varied gametypes in the championship, where you play as a Nakhti warrior named Anubis. The Nakhti's traditional ascension rites (a deathmatch between warriors to throne the winner the emperor) are now sponsored by Liandri as well, and the player participates in the ascension rites as Anubis, who is trying to prevent an ex-flame, Selket, from becoming the emperor. She's pretty ruthless and there is something in their past which has yet to be disclosed at this point in the game.

The actual gameplay is extremely fast, and fits the "Unreal" bill perfectly. The controls are intuitive, but do require some getting used too. The introduction of melee weapons adds a new layer of depth to an already excellent shooter, and while excellent, there isn't exactly a bevy of combos to pull off given the limited control scheme. It's not as boring as say a Halo 2 sword match (Which I really do enjoy on occasion) but it's probably not as combo driven as an actual fighter. This is an FPS people. While this is mainly an FPS as I did say, I've actually found myself using the optional third person perspective for some weapons other than the melee's (These can only be used in the third person) Since the game changed guard from Microsoft to Midway, there was some extra time for Epic to polish the game, and it definitely shows.

The framerate is solid with no real discernable slowdown. it may drop a fram or two here and there, but damn it all if this isn't the fastest Xbox game around. The levels are dripping with a futuristic yet mythical atmosphere, as the world of Egyptian gods clash in futuristic design. The graphics are detailed, and lighting is pretty good too. The player models are incredibly detailed, and the textures are crisp. I'd nominate this as one of the best looking Xbox games to date, especially since it runs at amazing speed.

If this is a prelude to what Epic can do, I cannot wait for "Gears of War" the Epic Xbox 360 game scheduled for release in 2006.

This is definitley a title worthy of owning, especially if you like the "Unreal" series. It's definitley distracted me from Halo more than any other game in my library, and I find myself putting it in more often than Halo because of it's fast-paced nature lately.

Give it a rent at the very least, and I wouldn't be surprised if you end up owning it.

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