Title: Unreal Championship
Developer: Digital Extreme
Release date: 11/2002
Author: Parnic (firstname.lastname@example.org) Parnic.com
If the fanatical worlds of Unreal haven’t entered your PC monitor yet, then you are in for a treat with Digital Extreme’s latest spin on the classic Unreal multiplayer fiasco. If you’re a seasoned player, you won’t be disappointed when the game flickers across your TV screen. The engine and all it stands for holds true to the Unreal legend, and the real power of your Xbox is finally unleashed! Unreal: Championship features a contest based kill-em-all style game play in which you progress up the games levels by obliterating your opponents in four different game play styles, death match, team death match, capture the flag, and the new kid on the block, bombing run.
If you’ve ever played an Xbox FPS before (Halo anyone?) then you will easily adapt to Unreal’s controller layout. Simple, yet effective. Right thumb stick = camera, left thumb stick = go. One refreshing difference Unreal presents is a reasonably well done camera system. Its almost depressing that the majority of 3D games, beautiful as they may be, try to cram the camera in places it just shouldn’t go. With Unreal, 99% of the time, you can see what is going on, you know where your character is, and you don’t lose your ability to aim. Yeah, for some of us this may suck, one less thing to blame getting fragged on! But for the most part, it’s a much desired change. Another great thing Unreal did to improve the playability of their game was confronting the age old problem of aiming with a thumb stick. Lets face it, it’s almost impossible to get aim perfect when you’re flying through a game with 12 players, there just isn’t time, so to counteract this problem, a little rounding system has been introduced. Auto aim you ask? Isn’t that a little cheap? Well, to get down to the nitty gritty, it actually improves game play, the aim rounding isn’t so bad that you feel cheated, but it is reasonable enough so that once you’re in the general vicinity, you’ve got a sure shot. Let’s just say your crosshair never moves, but your rockets seem to seek just a little bit.
What’s the most important part of any FPS? Weapons of course, but this game isn’t going to feature your good old desert eagle, Unreal has an entirely new twist for you. Every weapon in this game is a uniquely futuristic-styled slaying machine, and utilizing two different modes of operation for every firearm gives you many dynamic methods to frag your fellow gamer. The entire arsenal shows definite potential for death, and the only problem I ran into was that of the sniper rifle. Although shooting lightning beams with a scope may be many Tesla worshippers’ dream, it simply isn’t as effective as a good lead projectile when trying to hit targets from a distance. Unreal, for the most part, doesn’t allow enough down time for campers and snipers, but the rifle still does come in handy, if you can get used to its next-century ammunition.
The basis of the single player mode is to work your way up a ladder of different game play styles, unlocking characters and maps along the way, until you can master the final challenge formally known as the bombing run. More about that later, let’s start with the first three styles of play. Unreal is similar to every other FPS in its game play styles, featuring death match mode, an intense “every man for himself” structure, in which you roam the map, seeking out any other players who you can obliterate with electricity, lead, or highly explosive rockets. A slight variation on this mode is the team deathmatch, which allows you to form a team of CPU-controlled members, each harboring skills in certain areas. The basic idea here is, construct the most well-balanced team, and win, of course. The third style you come across is the classic capture the flag mode. So far, no twists or turns for Unreal here, you simply raid the enemy’s base, borrow their flag, and return it to your own base. The mode which really sets Unreal apart from the competition is the bombing run mode. This is pretty much capture the flag with an American football twist. Since some of us cannot get enough of the sport on Sundays, we are now allowed to run through the basic actions of grabbing a ball and beating the snot out of each other to get it to the goal line inside the worlds of Unreal. Players are allowed to steal the ball, pass the ball, and are hindered when they posses the ball by the inability to bear a weapon. This defines a truly team based event. Every player must be out to help his team score, since not just the player with the ball can control the situation. With a little help from a well-chosen team, the match can be a breeze. But get two teams of equal skill going at it, and you could be playing one round until the calluses on your thumbs start to hurt!
Even if you absolutely HATE FPS games, you must play this game, if not just for the graphics. The attention to every last detail, the amazing particle engine, and heck, even the water system, have shot this game up there with the likes of Halo, Splinter Cell, and the few other Xbox titles which actually take advantage of the system’s real power. Once you step into the world of Antalus, you will remember why you bought your Xbox. An exotic landscape lies before you, the textures don’t bleed, you don’t clip through walls, and everything in this world blends seamlessly with its partnered models. Although the point of this game may be death to all, you certainly couldn’t tell from the pristine looks of this map. And it’s not just this one level that Digital Extreme has focused in on. Every level has the same focus on graphics which we have come to expect from any game which bears the Unreal crest. There is no question about it, the legend lives on!
Basically, if you don’t own a Dolby Digital surround sound system, don’t read this part of the review, it’s that simple. Although many games on the Xbox platform take advantage of “surround sound”, most of them feature lame effects, crappy sound staging, and a bunch of booming bass to give your subwoofer a workout….for absolutely no reason. Now while Unreal: Championship certainly doesn’t skimp on the bass, they have implemented directional effects which you can actually hear and use during game play. With this game’s 5.1, you actually get 5 speakers telling you where players are located, what weapons are being shot, and where on the map your aggressors are located. Let’s face it, good Dolby Digital sound is just cool. I think this game is starting to show a trend, Unreal is taking advantage of what the Xbox has to offer, and not leaving you wanting (your $50 bucks back that is). By doing what Xbox developers should have done from the start, Unreal has successfully put itself ahead of the game, and it definitely ought to be first on your “games to buy” list.
All in all, Unreal truly sets a new standard for Xbox gaming. With its unique features, well coded camera, and intense nature, this game is a must-have. Any gamer who owns a 5.1 surround system will be pleased with its performance, and all you big screen TV fanatics, get ready for the visual stimulation you’ve been waiting for. With the carelessly designed crap on the gaming market right now, Unreal is a nice change, and one of the few games that I can say is well worth the investment.
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