Unreal Championship
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox
Publisher
Infogrames
Developer
Digital Extremes
Genre
First Person Shooter
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Online and multiplayer modes are a blast
• Nice looking levels
• Sound effects have great presence

The Bad

• Single player mode is weak
• Music is repetitive at best
• Instances of framerate lag

 
Grade
B+

Unreal Championship takes an interesting angle on first person shooters. Rather than offering a standard story-based mode that gives the players events and goals, the game is set up much like a gladiator sport. Imagine the fanfare and competition of professional wrestling set in a futuristic first person shooter world, where the player selects a character and a team composed of computer controller bots to fight in arenas in a variety of modes, including Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Double Domination. Completing each stage, where you win by gaining enough points, whether it be kills or goals completed, will unlock more stages and even different categories to compete in.

Gameplay: Unreal Championship is purely a multiplayer FPS at heart. Even the Single Player mode is really just a bots-enhanced version of the multiplayer. Instant Action allows you to jump into one of the game modes without getting into any kind of campaign. And, on top of the various options, you can also select from "Mutators", which can take any normal mode and make it vastly different by employing options, including Instagib (single-hit kills), Low Grav and Linkgun Medic (where using the Linkgun heals your allies). On top of that, you can use the System Link or play online with the Xbox Live service, both of which are really the reason most people will get this title.

You'll be given a large selection of characters to choose from, which are from six different Species, including Automatons, Juggernauts, Anubans and Mercenaries. While not immediately noticeable, you'll come to find that each species have certain bonuses, skills and limitations which gives a good balance to the large cast. Also, each character has a preferred weapon that they are proficient with.

Players are given a variety of weapons by which to slaughter their opponents. Utilizing some of the more unique weapons to their full potential takes some skill and effort, but once you do, you'll be laying waste in no time. The default weapons that you start battle with include the Assault Rifle (with grenade launcher) and Shieldgun. Each weapon has a primary and secondary fire action (default controls use the Left and Right Triggers for these), which often gives even the most basic weapons an extra punch. One of the more unique additions is the Translocator, which allows the player to teleport to other areas by shooting a camera drone and then using the secondary fire to teleport.

Adrenaline is a nice additional feature to the standard gameplay. Either by picking up pills or performing kills do you gain adrenaline, and once you reach 100, you can perform one of four D-pad combos to give your player a temporary advantage, like regeneration, invisibility or going berserk. While these adrenaline bonuses don't drastically alter the gameplay, they do add something that can be used strategically.

Graphics: Unreal Tournament gives games an impressive group of arenas to fight it out in. The levels vary in size, but all have a fine level of detail and are well designed for each of their objectives. One of the nicer features of the arena design is that rather than forcing you into a corridor-heavy arena, there are a lot of open locations and even some areas that have both natural exterior and constructed interior aspects, which give players a lot more room to move and fight. I give Digital Extremes credit for really packing in a lot of detail into the arenas. Everything, even down to the blades of grass in the exterior locations are put together nicely.

The character designs are pretty good and for the most part varied. Some of the Species, like the Gen Mo Kais and Juggernauts suffer from looking too similar, but others, like the Mercenaries and Anubans, have enough variety to keep them feeling fresh. During the heat of battle, though, you probably won't be able to recognize to many of the characters by their models. Luckily, each team has different colored markers to let you know who who to shoot and who not to shoot (at least in theory). If you manage to get close enough to an enemy to see any of the details and animations (which are pretty good), you're probably about to die.

Audio: Probably the strongest part of the audio portion is the sound effects, which have a wonderful presence. Being heavy on the bass, the gunshots and explosions really carry well and leave a great impression. The vocal bits from the NPCs are decent, but you'll end up ignoring them after too long as they serve no real purpose and can get repetitive. Half the time, you can barely even understand what some of the Species are even saying. The music itself is okay. It consists of some second-rate techno/industrial tracks that really lacks personality and tends to get very repetitive before too long. UC could have benefited from the Custom Soundtrack feature.

The Bad: In all honesty, the Single Player mode will grow old quick. This game is really meant for multiplayer with living players and especially those who have Xbox Live. In fact, it's online multiplayer aspect is probably the biggest draw to the title. When playing the game with bots, you can throw just about any strategy out the window as the only option to communicate strategy comes in the form of either letting them run free or having them stick near you. Even though you can alter your team member's "mindset" from offensive to defensive to freelance, most of the time, your allies will just run into the fray without much attempt at subtlety. Also, there are some times where the framerate tends to lag, but that's often when a lot of people are on screen or if you're playing on Xbox Live through a slow connection.

So, the question of whether to buy or not really depends on what you expect from this game. Want a strong story-based Single Player mode? Skip it. Want some great multiplayer? Definitely look into this if you play multiplayer a lot. Got Xbox Live? You should already own this.

- - Vane

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