XBOX REVIEW: UNREAL CHAMPIONSHIP 2: THE LIANDRI CONFLICT

Blending melee combat with first-person shooting may have been done before but it's never been done like this. Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict is a fully-realized hybrid that plays like a good PC game, though this is not a port. It features a deep control system that once learned, will take you places that the original Unreal Championship could only dream of.

Unreal Championship 2 offer both single and multi-player games, which each feature a variety of modes. As you may have guessed the online modes are the prime focus of this title. The single-player is a good training mode and it's not easy by any stretch (there are five difficulty settings) but unless you're going to take advantage of the Xbox Live feature I wouldn't recommend buying this game only for the single-player modes.

Story, Tournament and Challenges comprise the single-player experience. All of the modes will give you a good work out. I would advise you to play all of the modes in this order to prepare yourself for online play. There are lots of control commands to get used to but not in the classic, fighting-style console tradition of confusing face button combinations. Using a PC-style command system, there are simply more control facets which are actually very simple when broken down individually but when combined create a full-rounded control scheme that offers lots of options and freedom.

You will begin with a few melee attacks and a couple of weapons. Basically they amount to a few punches and the ability to shoot. This may seem easy to control but there is also an interface to consult when implementing other ingredients such as adrenaline which acts as power up for such attributes as increased speed, power boosts and invisibility to name a few. Jumps, double jumps and jump attacks come in handy for defensive and offensive moves. The jump attack allows you to literally soar through the air and tackle an opponent on the other side of the screen. You can use these jumps to climb walls or shimmy up the sides of buildings by jumping from wall to wall.

A targeting system allows you to focus on a specific opponent in such a way that the camera follows him or her around while you do battle with them. It's not a physical tether in that you can pull them or swing them around, nor does it increase the accuracy of your aim. It just cuts down on the confusion by focusing on one character when you may be facing a half dozen or so enemies at once.

Pressing the L button allows you to reflect or deflect an enemy's attack. It works really well and allows you time to get in a better position when under heavy fire. With a little bit of practice you can reflect the attack back at the enemy with such accuracy that you could destroy them without using any of your own weapons or melee moves. Conversely the enemy can also reflect attacks and you could find yourself in the middle of a volley of a reflected attacks.

Shock rifles, rocket launchers, grenade launchers, stingers and ripjacks make up some of the weapons. They come in two categories, energy and explosive and each will have primary and secondary firing function although some may go as far as four. You can't change from energy to explosive weapons on the fly but you can pick up a dead opponent's weapon and use it.

The Story mode sets the tone and pace for the rest of the game though it's not really important that you pay attention to everything that's going on. You won't have to wade through lots of detail, narration or overacting. The story gets to the point quickly and lets you get on with the action. This is a fighting game, not a Shakespearean play and the developers realize that.

Tournament is essentially an arcade mode where you can choose your opponent and have it out with him or her. The most difficult mode of all is the Challenges mode where you will have to take on enemies that are clearly superior to you in every way. This is a very frustrating mode and the AI is exceptional, as they are in all of the levels but here they are downright bastards. It's a great training mode for online play and if you complete it you'll unlock a very special character that comes equipped with a lot of great moves and skills.

Up to eight players can take part in the latest and greatest frag fest online. Modes include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Survival as well as a few new ones, Overdose and Nali Slaughter. In Overdose you will have to collect continuously generated spheres and return them to your base as quickly as possible. Nali Slaughter puts you in another race of sorts, to kill more innocent creatures than your opponents within a given time limit. Expect lot of replay value online as there isn't a throwaway mode in the batch.

Although the maps aren't huge they are plentiful. There are 40 medium-sized maps available with more to come. Bottomless pits are scattered throughout the environments to restrict randomized jump attacks. To keep things fair players will not be credited for kills of lower-ranked players. At the same time, if you get killed by a lower-ranked player you will lose your higher ranking. This should encourage player to seek out opponents of similar skills.

Some of the waits can be long just to get into a game. There is a little bit of lag online that you can feel from time to time but nothing too severe.

Graphically the game is sight for sore eyes. The panoramic view of the background, though not interactive, is breathtakingly realistic. Textures are clean, crisp and complex and have that "lived in" look. Character models are well detailed and come apart nicely when diced and sliced. You'll see lots of flesh and blood - here's hoping that most of it isn't yours.

The explosions are powerful sounding and will give your woofers a sound shaking. Musically the soundtrack fits the situations perfectly alternating with haunting melodies and military-inspired combat music. The voice acting can get a little hammy but at least there's some swearing to make up for it.

Unreal Championship 2 may be frustrating at first but as long as you're patient and don't expect to go online for a number of days, or even weeks, while training in the single-player modes, you'll be rewarded with one of the best games of its kind.

Preview by Chris
Hands On: If you have seen the latest OXM Magazine, you probably have read all about this one. UC 2 claims to be able to push the Xbox to its limits, graphically speaking. It's a bold statement. I really wanted to see what Epic and Midway had in store for fans this time around. I had heard all about fans of the first game complaining about the third-person aspect. However, it's hard to tell without actually having some time with any game. Yes, UC 2 is different from the first, but in a good way. You will need to get used to a few new ways of playing and switching back from first-person to third-person view. It really looks and plays sharp. I don't think it will really push the Xbox to its limits though but it is a really good sequel!

While the demo really does not give you the whole story of what happened to change the rules of the tournament, you soon learn this time the rules are even more brutal and melee attacks are now added. A slew of new weapons and even new ways to use your adrenaline have also been added. The game has a glow effect throughout each level and the new characters are perhaps more aggressive than the last game. Now most of you know that Unreal Championship was the first game for the XBL service. It also needed some help in the way of the lobby and getting friends into the game etc. I have to say and again I must be fair, the demo is not the final build of the game. I was hoping for more improvements in these areas. Hopefully, it will be seen in the final version but the demo really did not give you a chance to really tell.

Graphically, the game looks good and the details are impressive. The extra animations and movements are great but mostly eye candy. Granted it looks better than the first game but then it should. The characters and the weapons impressed me but still I wanted to see more. Maybe they decided not to spoil everything with the demo? The controls are a bit different and it did take some time to get use to. It plays and controls better than the first one and in a different way. It's a harder game this time around and while the demo did not have all the features or characters unlocked it showed plenty of promise. It is not just the same game rehashed and repackaged with some added graphics and options. The real question is going to be how the gamers take to the new melee style and switching views while playing. UC was about speed and killing. Quite simple yet it required a lot of skill and timing. Playing the demo took time to get the timing down but was fun and shows that Epic has a lot in store with this one.

For fans of the first one, every mode is back along with some new variations. The new races of characters look good and the weapons are pretty cool. I would have liked to have a longer version to give my thoughts on the game though. The game has gotten some decent press and it just may push the Xbox more than most games recently. I guess we will find out when the game hits stores in April.

Press:

Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict brings the Unreal Championship franchise to Xbox and Xbox Live with bold enhancements to single and multiplayer gameplay including all new super-agile player acrobatics, third-person camera mode, vehicles and intense melee abilities. Unreal Championship fans can play as any one of 14 characters from the Unreal universe, each with spectacular new Adrenaline powers that enable new offensive and defensive combos.


Features:

  • Bone-crunching melee combat. For the first time in an Unreal franchise game, players can battle using hand-to-hand weapon combat seamlessly melded with Unreal's trademark fast-paced shooter action.
  • Unprecedented player mobility. Combat takes on a whole new dimension. New third-person navigation makes it easy for players to pull off incredible acrobatic combo-moves. Levels are designed to allow the players to take maximize their movement skills and take combat to a high-flying vertical level, never seen before in an action shooter.
  • Adrenaline Powers for fighting. New Adrenaline Powers enable players to deflect projectiles and invoke powers for new offensive and defensive tactics.
  • Unparalleled multiplayer action. The Unreal experience is optimized for Xbox Live, enabling players to take on adversaries from around the world. System Link provides the ability to play against others by directly linking Xbox consoles.
  • Intense single-player excitement. Players are immersed in a two-part, single-player tournament experience that allows the player to take on the role of a variety of uniquely-skilled characters, as well as the role of heroic Anubis as he fights to reclaim his people's Rite of Ascension tournament from the omnipotent Liandri Corporation.
Preview by Chris

Unreal Championship was decent but showed at times it was one of the first games made for Xbox Live. It had potential and at the time the game was first released it seemed decent. However, when compared to the PC version, it came up short in many ways. Looking back now, the game had plenty of issues and Epic has decided to change this. The last two Unreal games were basically ports from the PC and not made for the Xbox only. After looking at the other games and the new things possible with Xbox live, Epic has decided to bring a brand new game for owners of the Xbox system. They also plan on making the game something that gamers will want to play by offer something new!

I personally enjoyed Unreal Championship even with the glitches and the poor lobby, although I was really hoping for something a little deeper and offering something I have not played before. Epic recently showed off a demo of the new Unreal 2 and No I am not typing out the long name of the game again!

The name may be long but the new features that Epic has in mind for the next version of Unreal are even longer. The game will actually feature a way to deflect long-range attacks and offer players to battle in a close range manner, something the first game never offered. Each race will have choices of different long-range weapons like the first game but will also feature melee style attacks and new effects when you use the adrenaline. Now players will be able to perform quadruple jumps without using the rocket launcher glitch. Also new is with the new close range attacks. A player can now prove their skills and rather than sit back and snipe players, they can actually sneak up and stun a player, switch to a third person mode, and finish the kill. Sounds pretty cool! Also new races will be introduced and of course some who are in need of more clothing or not (depending on you're preferences).

Epic is proving a game company can say they made a mistake and try or correct it. The game will also feature the best graphics ever seen or so they are saying. As far as the online mode, changes are planned and of course the game will take advantage of the newest version of Xbox live including a better lobby and a massive amount of maps. 48+ maps have been announced so far. Also included will be a Death-match and a team mode. Epic is not telling everything yet. We do know the online mode will also have a new CTF mode and a few others will be announced at E3. The game will also allow players to earn new races and skins in the single player modes making the gamer work for better abilities and weapons.

It looks like UC 2 will certainly be something fans of the game will want to play especially since they are now making the game to take advantage of the power of the Xbox console and not just a port. Take a look at the impressive screenshots and the visuals from the early demo. Of course once Epic shows off the game and announces all the features at E3, we will have more on this one.

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System: XBOX
Dev: Epic Games
Pub: Midway
Released: April 2005
Players: 1 - Multi Online
Review by Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
5.0