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Are you going to buy an Xbox One X This Holiday Season?

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Hope to Receive it as a Gift


Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
8.5
Visuals
8.5
Audio
8.5
Gameplay
8.5
Features
8.5
Replay
8.5
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Atari
DEVELOPER:
Digital Extremes
GENRE: First Person Shooter
PLAYERS:   1-16
RELEASE DATE:
November 15, 2002
ESRB RATING:
Mature
IN THE SERIES
Unreal Tournament III

Unreal Tournament III

Unreal Tournament III

Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict

Unreal Tournament

 Written by Ryan Smotherman  on December 11, 2002

Full Review: MechAssault might have stolen its thunder, but for those longing for the ?God-like? murdering experience will find much to like here.


Over the years, it's almost certain that every gamer has gotten around to playing Digital Extremes' first-person shooter classic, Unreal Tournament. Whether you took your fragging online with the PC and Dreamcast versions, or if you played the pointless Playstation 2 version, you know Unreal Tournament was an intense, in-your-face bloodbath set at a blistering pace. Of course, now 3 years after it's initial PC debut, Digital Extremes has bounced back with not one, but two subsequent sequels, Unreal Tournament 2003 for the PC and Unreal Championship for the Xbox. Well, truth be told, Championship is essentially Unreal Tournament 2003 fine-tuned for the Xbox, and needless to say, it's one helluva game to get Microsoft's Xbox Live network kicked off, even if things really haven't changed all that much from the originator.

The story is UC, while really not all that important, is exactly as it was in the original ? set in the distant future, the Unreal games work as the modern day sport, were people gather to watch the mayhem unfold. Naturally, the game is set in the first-person, and as with most all Xbox games of this type, the control scheme is much like that of Halo's ? the left thumbstick is used to move/strafe, the right thumbstick looks around/aims, and the rest of the buttons do your typical things, such as switch weapons, fire, jump, etc. Admittedly, the PC/Mouse set-up is way more accurate than what is found from the Xbox pad, and with this being such a fast-paced shooter, control issues do present themselves, but everything works well given enough playtime with the game. Thankfully, a slew of different customizable controller options are available to the player; these include things like the ability to adjust sensitivity on the thumbsticks, invert the camera, and even make the camera spring back to center when you let go of the thumbstick. Additionally, to help along with aiming, an auto-aim feature has been incorporated, but with some weapons (Lightening Gun) this can be a little bit unfair.

Once you get the controls down, you'll find that Unreal is just as insane, and incredibly addicting, as you remember. Regardless of which mode you play in, killing the opposition is the basis of the gameplay here, and lucky for you there's quite an arsenal of weaponry at your disposal. Many of the mainstay weapons have returned for the sequel, some of which have been slightly modified and others which are virtually the same. Unreal veterans will almost certainly recall the deadly, ooze shooting Bio-Rifle, the shrapnel shooting power of the Flak Cannon, the rapid-fire Mini-gun, the much-improved Shock Rifle, the ever so popular Link Gun, and of course, the number one killa, the Rocket Launcher. Unreal Tournament's default weapons, the Enforcer hand-gun and the Impact Hammer, have also been replaced ? this go around every player starts with a fast shooting, yet incredibly weak, Assault Rifle that doubles as a grenade launcher, and the Shield Gun, which serves two purposes ? it can be used as a shield (duh) and it can be charged up to deliver a devastating blow to an opponent (the only problem is you have to touch them with it). Additionally, the most feared weapon of them all, The Redeemer, is MIA, but the T.A.G Rifle and Ion Cannon have taken it's place very effectively, giving the player the potential to kill multiple people with a single shot. The last gun to mention is the Lightening Gun, which has pretty much taken the place of the old fashioned Sniper Rifle. Complete with high zoom capabilities, the Lightening Gun is an effective, and somewhat cheap, way of killing your opponents, as it usually only requires one shot to get the job done, and it's very efficient both at short and long distances.

Needless to say, Championship is chocked-full of more than enough firepower to keep you entertained, and like in the first, each weapons has two different types of fire. For instance, the Link Gun's standard fire shoots little bursts of plasma energy, while the secondary ability shoots out a beam of plasma energy that can be used to both damage your opponent or help out a teammate by increasing their rate of fire or healing them (if the conditions present themselves). The Rocket Launcher's normal fire just shoots out one rocket, while the secondary fire, when held down, will load up three and shoot them at the same time. This is sort of a letdown considering that the original could shoot up to 5 rockets at a time, but I guess it's something we'll have to live with, plus, you can actually get a lock on an opponent that will make these heat seek them (yum!).

As mentioned, the run around and kill everything gameplay hasn't changed all that much, however, there are two minor additions that do mix things up a bit ? the different species and adrenaline. Championship comes complete with 6 different types of species, ranging from the bulky Juggernauts, to the agile Gen Mo Kai, to the insane personalities of the Nightmares, and each species has 8 different characters to choose from, making for a whopping total of 48. Each of the characters has their own unique look and is complete with a short back-story, as well as a weapon of choice. Usually the character starts out with the weapon they are proficient with, and they actually have an impact on their skill with it. Things like rate of fire, damage, and maximum ammo can be increased. This of course makes choosing a character based on your favorite weapon a must. Choosing a species also has a direct impact on how you'll play in the game, as each of them come with their own characteristics and abilities. For example, the Juggernauts are slower than the rest, but they can take quite a beating with their incredible defensive capabilities. The Gen Mo Kai are the opposite, while they don't live as long, it's more than made up for in their quick speed and high jump abilities. All in all, the inclusion of the characters and different species does add a much-needed boost to the franchise.

The game's added Adrenaline feature, when figured out (you must play the training mode in the game to know everything, as the instruction manual is junk), turns out to be a pleasant surprise. This works by collecting adrenaline pills that are spread throughout any given level. Once you've reached 100 of them you'll be able to pull off 1 of 4 different special abilities ? Invisibility, Berserk, Regeneration, and Agility. These special enhancements are activated by simple directional combinations and can be quite helpful during certain situations ? for example, if say you have the enemy's flag, activating the Agility does wonders for getting back to your base with it quickly. And if you're in a near death situation, using the regeneration will quickly get you back up to snuff. Sadly, these abilities only last until your adrenaline meter is drained, which is only like a few seconds, but thankfully the pills continually build up and don't reset after you die and respawn, giving you the ability to use them multiple times in each bout.

Unreal Championship comes complete with a fairly straightforward, yet competent, single player mode where you'll progress through different game modes of increasing difficulty. You'll start out fighting in the standard deathmatch mode, but as you progress you'll open up new game modes and a greater number of opponents to face. The AI here is pretty good, but more than anything the single player aspect of UC is just something to get you ready for the meat of the game ? playing on Xbox Live. Once you sign in and get ready to play, whether you host a game or not, you'll be required to pick from one of the many gameplay modes ? these come in the form of Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Double Domination, Survival, and Bombing Run, all of which offer up to 16 players at one time. The deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes should be self-explanatory and are pulled off as well as you'd expect. Double Domination is much like the Domination mode found in the first ? as a team you must control 2 positions on a map at the same time for 12 seconds, and every time you do this you receive a point; you win when you reach a predetermined amount of points. Bombing Run is easily one of the greatest additions to the Unreal front ? here you'll once again work as a team to transport a bomb into the enemy's base and shoot or run it through their portal. This is all done by the use of the Ball Launcher, which can be used to shoot the bomb or pass it to a teammate, and after a team scores all players and the bomb are reset to the starting position so the madness can start all over again. All in all, the gameplay modes included in the game shouldn't disappoint anyone, and they're each complete with multiple levels that take advantage of each game type.

As for the actual performance while playing online, it's great, but some things could have definitely been better. First and foremost, there is a pretty substantial lag problem. When you search for servers to join you'll find that all of them are given a speed rating, ranging from 1 to 5 stars, with one being horrible network conditions and 5 being the absolute best. The thing is that it's hard to find a game with over 3 stars, especially any with more than 8 people, and I've never seen anything more than 2 in Microsoft's own Xservers. This isn't a serious problem if you're not looking for big games, but I do find it funny that I can play fine with over 32 people online on my PC, yet Xbox Live has trouble with half that number. Microsoft definitely needs to get everything together in this department. However, when things are running well, it's an altogether awesome experience. The voice communicator is a really great addition and works wonders in team play, but it's set up oddly. This took me a while to figure out (once again, crappy instruction manual), but instead of everyone being on one channel, there are multiple channels that hold up to 4 people. These are split up into different channels that correlate to each team and even neutral servers than anyone can get on. Besides these couple tolerable mistakes, UC on Xbox Live is an insane experience.

Graphically speaking, mainly because the lower resolution, Unreal Championship can't quite hang with it's PC brethren, Unreal Tournament 2003, but it still looks damn good running on the Xbox. The game is complete with incredible weapon effects, solid character models, and some of the most atmospheric levels I've ever seen ? these cover a variety of both in-door and out-door environments, with a bevy of different weather and geological effects. To keep things fast when running on and offline, it's fairly obvious that they had to keep some of the Xbox effects to a minimum, though, you'll still see the occasional hiccup in the framerate. It's unfortunate, but the game more than gets the job done. As for sound, it's just as impressive; with suitably wicked voice acting, solid tunes, and some earth shattering weapon effects. Oddly enough, my favorite sound in the game is the female A.I. that gives you information throughout each bout. The voice just fits perfectly into the game, and I couldn't imagine playing the game without it.

Bottom Line
All told, many will find Unreal Championship to be the perfect title to get their Xbox Live gaming on with. Sure, it's not too different from UT, but it's still incredibly addictive and immediately satisfying, and it's killer array of devastating weapons and well put together game modes, most of which do a good job of promoting teamwork, warrants it a purchase from any Xbox owner who has joined the online mix. But be warning, this game definitely won't satisfy those looking for a single player only experience, or those that have Unreal Tournament 2003 already for the PC. But if you don't fit into either of those categories and you're online with Xbox Live, this is a game you shouldn't pass up.


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