We had a chance to check out one multiplayer map from Infogrames' Xbox first-person shooter, Unreal Championship. But before jumping into the actual game, we had the option to choose from one of several different voice-masking features for use with Xbox Live's voice-communication service. There are quite a few masks ranging from a high-pitched voice to a robotic voice.
After loading up the game, we were transported to the multiplayer map within a matter of seconds. This particular map looked like an abandoned army base with a number of large structures surrounded by deep (and realistic looking) patches of grass, similar to the grass found in Soldier of Fortune II. There was plenty of detail in the level, though some of the textures, particularly those on the character models, looked a little washed out. The frame rate remained steady for the most part, though there were only two other players in the game on a relatively small map, so we'll have to wait and see how the game handles larger maps with even more characters.
Once we finished taking in the landscape, the other two players in the game (who were located elsewhere in Microsoft's booth) started talking, but their voices were masked using the high-pitched, helium-like squeal. We responded with our robotic voices, and everyone started to laugh, making it a rather interesting deathmatch.
Fans of Halo should have no problem jumping right into Unreal Championship, because the left analog stick moves your character, while the right analog stick controls aim. The right trigger fires your weapon, while the X face button cycles through weapons. The aiming can feel a little sensitive at first, but you should have no problem becoming accustomed to it within a few minutes.
The weapons in Unreal Championship, or at least in this map, are typical Unreal fare. There's a flak cannon, which shoots a small ball of metal that explodes into dozens of pieces, a basic machine gun, a sniper rifle, a chain gun, and others. Each weapon worked well within the confines of the map, and it didn't really seem like the other players were always going after a specific weapon. However, there were a few times when another player would climb into one of the towers and camp with the rocket launcher, but they were easy to take out with the flak cannon or by simply sneaking up from behind.
Unreal Championship's fun gameplay combined with the novelty of the Xbox Live service should make an enticing package for any Xbox owner when it's released this fall.