Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict Xbox
Published by Midway
Developed by Epic Games
Release Date: Out Now
Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict, an introduction.
Take one of the most popular PC online games and customise it for use on a console that has a growing online system in place and you have a recipe for success. That's exactly what happened with Unreal Championship. The Unreal Tournament games have been a major success on the PC and it was a sound move when Unreal Championship, a similar game, was developed to take advantage of Xbox Live. Indeed it's still a popular choice for Xbox Live gamers which is saying a lot given how many online FPS games there are on the console. With Unreal Championship being such a firm favourite then, it was inevitable that a sequel would arrive and here we have Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict.
What's the game about?
Well for starters whilst the game retains the basic idea of the Unreal Tournament games some major changes have been made for Unreal Championship 2. This isn't just another FPS, in fact it's much more of a third-person game now. This time around the focus has been on making a game that's more suited to the console environment and as a result you'll have much more melee combat that's played from the third person perspective. You still have the FPS action but it's not really the main focus of the game. You'll find a single-player Story mode, Xbox Live (for up to 8 players) and System Link games and an Instant Action mode that allows you to play against AI bots.
What's good about the game?
The best aspect of Unreal Championship 2 is that it feels like a game that was made for the Xbox rather than having a PC game ported over. There's much more third-person melee combat this time around and it works very well indeed. Getting up close and using those Cryo Swords to slice up your opponents seems far removed from using the sniper rifles in previous Unreal games but nevertheless it still offers excellent fun. A superb arsenal of weapons has been included such as the Rock Launcher, Flak Cannon, Ripjack, Grenade Launcher and the aforementioned Cryo Swords. The game strikes a good balance between single-player and multiplayer gaming although it's the multiplayer game that will occupy most gamers' attentions in the long run. The single-player Story mode is split into 3 parts. There's the Ascension Rites campaign, a Tournament mode where you have to guide each warrior (there are 15 warriors in all although initially only 6 are available) through the tournament and a Challenges mode which offers 17 challenges for you to take on. There are five levels of difficulty for each mode ranging from Novice to Godlike so there should be a setting to challenge all abilities. Whilst the single-player game is enjoyable it never reaches the same frenzied level of the multiplayer modes though. The game types on offer are Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, Nali Slaughter, Overdose, Survival and Team Deathmatch.
What's not so good about the game?
My sole complaint with Unreal Championship 2 is that the Ascension Rites campaign is not of the same standard as the rest of the game. To be quite honest I found it a little boring and I was relieved that the developers had included the Tournament mode as well as the Instant Action mode as these are much more entertaining.
How does it look?
Unreal Championship 2 looks impressive. Action games need a solid frame rate and whether you're online or offline, Unreal Championship 2 remains consistently smooth. The level design is first rate and most of the maps on offer are very enjoyable to battle. The character models look a little dated, especially after playing Doom 3 but they still look good. The game's camera seldom causes any problems and the extra situational awareness that the third-person view offers makes the camera control much easier. What I really liked is that you can configure either a third-person or first-person camera for each weapon (in the options menu) so you don't have to change your view mid-battle, which is excellent.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
By it's very nature, Unreal Championship 2 shouldn't be a game that causes deaf gamers too many problems. Cinematic and Tutorial subtitles can be enabled which means you'll be able to learn how to play the game and follow the dialogue in the cutscenes. Even some ambient sounds, such as comments from a nearby TV, are shown in text. Taunt messages can also be set to be displayed in text too. Online the game uses voice communications which doesn't favour the deaf gamer but as we have said many times before the current Xbox Live service has no support for text communications so it's not the fault of the game's developers that none are present. It's not a complete loss though as commands (and taunts) can be issued via the directional pad so as long as you're playing with gamers who don't use voice communications it's still possible to have an excellent time online.
Personally I wouldn't have thought a third-person Unreal Tournament like experience would have been that great but after playing Unreal Championship 2, I have been surprised to find it's excellent. Being able to play from a third-person perspective is much better and suits the console controls down to the ground. Only the rather lacklustre Ascension Rites campaign is a disappointment and in every other respect it's a top drawer game. If you play on Xbox Live this is one game that's a must but even as a single player game (two players can participate in the Instant Action mode), it's still a game worthy of your attention.
Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification
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Unreal Championship 2 does an excellent job of introducing melee action and a third person view whilst retaining all that's special about the Unreal series.