Atari stopped by and gave us a look at a work-in-progress build of Unreal II: The Awakening, the Xbox version of Epic's latest entry in its popular franchise. The last time we saw the game, it appeared to be coming together quite well. Our latest look didn't offer much in the way of surprises, as development continues to go smoothly. We did, however, manage to get a bit more info on the game's Xbox Live support.
Unreal II's graphics are looking good, although there were some performance inconsistencies in the work-in-progress build that we saw demoed. However, despite the frame rate issues we sporadically saw, the visual quality of the game is quite high. Character models and environments looked good, as did the plethora of effects used for the wonderfully destructive arsenal you'll end up using over the course of the game. As with the frame rate, there were a few rough graphical issues--mostly having to do with lighting--but otherwise the game is shaping up to compare favorably to its PC brethren.
As previously noted, Unreal II will offer the PC version's single-player campaign (also playable in split-screen co-op) along with some additions. The game will also contain the extra XMP content that was recently released in the Unreal II: The Awakening Special Edition for the PC. XMP is a class-based multiplayer game that offers a distinct change of pace by letting players choose to play as actual classes (similar to the multiplayer mode in Wolfenstein for Xbox Live), like rangers, snipers, or assault characters. XMP features a goal-based mode in which two opposing teams must capture and control all the artifacts on a map to win. In many cases, each team starts the game in control of two artifacts and attempts to capture the other two to score points. The game also offers multiplayer support, via system link, in addition to the expected Xbox Live features. The game's Xbox Live support has been clarified some, although not completely. The game will obviously support a total of 10 players online, though it may be possible to increase that number to 12 if you set up an Xbox as a dedicated server. The topic of downloadable content is still in the process of being ironed out. At present, the team would like to include some downloadable content; it's just a question of deciding on what content to include and how to incorporate it into the development cycle.
While it goes without saying, Unreal II is looking to be a solid game for the Xbox. The single-player and multiplayer content are shaping up nicely and should have a lot to offer first-person shooter fans. If Atari and Epic can make sure the game's performance meets the 30 frames per second goal, then all should be well. Unreal II: The Awakening is currently slated to ship early next year for the Xbox. Look for more on the game in the coming weeks.