We've been keeping tabs on Epic's Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict for some time now. The latest branch of the Unreal family tree, Unreal Championship 2 takes a very different approach than the previous entries in the series on the Xbox. Although the game will still provide players with a traditional first-person view, the game features a third-person perspective and a robust new gameplay system that is heavy on action. Today, reps from Midway and Epic president Mike Capps stopped by the GameSpot offices with an updated work-in-progress version of the game that showed off a bit more polish, in addition to a mystery Mortal Kombat character that Epic is incorporating into the game.
Our demo of the game consisted of looks at the Remnant and Praxis levels (a ruin and a space station, respectively) for updated looks at how the gameplay and graphics are coming together. In addition, we got a quick overview of the multiplayer modes. The two levels offered the expected sweet visuals, but more importantly, they featured architecture that is tailor-made for performing the crazy acrobatic moves that are a key aspect to the experience. As for the multiplayer games, Epic is pulling out all the stops by offering a mix of the expected modes, like deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag, along with some unique new modes, such as "Overdose" and "Nali Slaughter." Later in the demo, we were able to get our hands on Raiden to try him out against a good selection of foes. The MK thunder god handles well and can mix it up nicely with the UC2 crew. While not as tough as Skaarj, Raiden can take a fair amount of punishment, which puts him in the midrange of the fighter's roster. His unique weapons are pistols, but in a nod to his powers, the guns are electrically generated and fire charges of lightning that look pretty cool.
The graphics continue to be tight, and they show off Epic's proficiency with the Xbox hardware. The varied environments we've seen are rich in detail and run an inventive gamut of locales. You'll see space station interiors, ruins, and seemingly benign outdoor locations that serve as backdrops for the intense carnage the game is known for. But while you'd think the character models may suffer some due to the attention lavished on the backgrounds, that's anything but the case. The eclectic roster of fighters in Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict, including the familiar races from the series, all look stellar. Newcomer Raiden ends up fitting in nicely with just a slight tailoring of his outfit, which ends up giving him a trimmer look. His animations are looking good, and his weapons look suitably cool. Epic's nod to Raiden's arcade moves are smart choices that fit the action. As a result, you'll be able to execute his Superman torpedo rush at opponents as well as his "shocker" fatality, wherein he explodes his foe using electricity.
The audio is still coming together, but what's already been implemented is pretty satisfying. The weapons fire, both of the normal and alt-mode varieties, offers an impressive array of sounds that suit the onscreen carnage. The classic UC announcer is in full effect, along with repartee from the characters that you'll be eviscerating in numerous ways. However, Capps revealed that Epic is throwing in some extra MK-esque flourishes in honor of Raiden's presence in the game. Firstly, the team has had Raiden's voice actor come in to record lines for the game. However, what has us really pleased is the second audio touch the team is currently working to implement, which namely consists of an optional audio track that features the MK announcer, complete with signature MK phrasing. While it's not in the game yet, the plan is to make this audio track a selectable option. While it's a little touch, we're pleased to see Epic and Midway having some fun. And as an aside, this additional audio should sound great thanks to the game's Dolby 5.1 support.
Based on what we've seen so far, Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict is shaping up to be a unique new entry in the Unreal franchise, and it seems to be an Xbox game that's going to be well worth your time. The game looks good, handles extremely well, and comes packing a wealth of modes that should be blasts for gamers. Look for Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict this March on the Xbox.