Unreal Championship 2 The Liandri Conflict ReviewCain Dornan
The Unreal series has gathered a number of followers for its addictive, frenzied shooter gameplay. Centrally based on multiplayer action, the series has made a comfortable home on the PC, pouring out a number of sequels that continuously improved the excellent formulae. Although the franchise has made a short stint on the home console market, it was evident that the console versions were nothing more than a poor attempt of a port from the PC version resulting in a number of problems arising with the Xbox version. Thankfully, respected developer Epic Games has decided to create an original Unreal title development specifically for the Xbox system resulting in excellent controlling mechanics, addictive gameplay and fluid, detailed visuals.
As the game takes a number of pointers from previous games in the Unreal series, veterans of the franchise will find that a number of weapon and characters favourites have made a triumphant return, in addition to a range of brand-new exclusive characters, items, and levels. Although the man attraction of the game is its brilliant multiplayer offering, Unreal Championship 2 offers a solid single player mode that only falls short due to its rather short lifespan. The main story-driven single player mode is Ascension Rites, which tells the story of a powerful corrupted company, known as the Liandri Corporation, gaining control of a well-respected galactic fighting tourney. You take on the role of Anubis, a skilled warrior who enters the tournament in an attempt to end the biased, unfair battles that have occurred as a direct influence of the Liandri Corporation.
Thankfully, the Ascension Rites tournament isnt the only mode on offer. The single player mode of Unreal Championship 2 also offers a Tournament mode, which allows you to select from a variety of fighters on offer. Once you select your combatant, you are pitched through a series of fights that are essentially the same as those found in the Ascension Rites mode, however, these fights are less story driven. The Challenge mode is also available, which requires you to complete a series of challenging circumstances. The higher difficulty is definitely a welcomed addition, as the two other modes are quickly beaten.
In addition to Anubis, one of the star characters of Unreal Championship 2, a host of interesting and often unique characters are on offer. A number of different races, including Human, Juggernaut, Liandri, Skaarj, Necris and Nakhti divides the characters appearance, skill and background, providing an interesting assortment of combatants available. Many of these characters are initially locked, requiring you to complete battles in order to gain access to them.
To add some interesting variation, each character is equipped with a default melee and gun weapon. However, prior to beginning each battle, you are given the opportunity to choose a further two gun weapons to use during the fight. These weapons are divided into two different categories, explosive and energy, requiring you to select one weapon from each category to be used during that fight. Naturally, each weapon offers their own positive and negative attributes, resulting in players becoming accustomed to using a specific set of weapons. Fans of the series will be please to hear that a number of favourites have made a powerful return, including the Bio Rifle, Ripjack and Flak Cannon.
The new addition of the third-person view has made a successful debut, offering a satisfying alternative to the original first-person view. Epic Games has added the ability to play through the third person view at all times, or, alternatively you can switch to the classic first person view whilst using your guns. Both views work flawlessly; with the responsive controls allowing you to easily maneuver your character into jumps and quickly turn to face your consistent flow of enemies from behind.
Unreal Championship 2 offers a number of different game types. The traditional Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes have made a satisfying return, offering the same classic frantic-styled gameplay that has appeared in the previous Unreal incarnations. Some other common game types available includes Capture the Flag, requiring players to steal their opponents flag and return it to their own base whilst defending their own flag. Survival is similar to the deathmatch mode; however, the longest surviving warrior is the winner. Less common first person shooter game types includes Nali Slaughter, requiring players to murder as many small, harmless creatures before the time limit has ended. Overdose, on the other hand, involves capturing a glowing ball of radioactive material and returning it to the specified area before you are killed. Returning the ball to the same colour location will yield six points, while returning it to a different coloured location will reward you with three points.
As with the previous Unreal titles, the multiplayer mode offers the longest lifespan. In addition to the two-player split-screen support, a superb Xbox Live connectivity allows for some intense online battles. The offline mode permits yourself and a friend to battle up to seven AI-controlled bots without any noticeable lag.
Unlike the previous Unreal outings on home consoles, Unreal Championship 2s lag is fairly limited to slight delay during intensive battles with numerous characters on screen at once, however, this lag experience rarely severe enough to effect the gameplay. The split-screen multiplayer mode is handled impressively well, considering that the games visuals are quite advanced. Environment and level detail is certainly impressive, offering stunningly-futuristic looking corridors and open, breathtaking outdoor arenas. The attention to detail has yielded some quality results that extends through to the character design. Each character offers their own unique appearance, complete with futuristic armour and gear. Characters move in a smooth, lively manner not exactly realistic, but it certainly adds to the whole futuristic appearance.
The music further adds to the action-packed gameplay, offering lively beats that never intrude or disturb the gameplay. Sound effects, like the visuals, take on a futuristic appeal, providing convincing sound that perfectly matches the appearance of the weapon.
After a number of rather poor PC ports of the Unreal franchise onto the Xbox, it is pleasing to finally experience a solid, quality shooter that further expands on what the series is famous for. Unreal Championship 2 offers one of the best single player experiences the series has seen yet, including a more comprehensive and expansive multiplayer support. The stunning visuals and classic Unreal-styled sound moulds perfectly around the frantic, addictive gameplay that satisfies on almost every level. Fans of the series will do themselves a favour by adding this title to their collection, while almost any first person shooter or action fan will likely find this title worthwhile.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.