Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict Review
While the concept of a first-person shooter going behind the back may sound a little strange at first, Unreal Championship 2 pulls it off with ease and, at the same time, provides a fantastic new twist on an old favorite.
- Terrific melee combat
- Ridiculous variety
- Superb gameplay
- Strong Xbox Live support
- Coup de grace finishers could have been more interesting.
The Unreal series has, so far, been a very PC-focused series of first-person shooters. While there have been some single-player adventures here and there, the series has been at its best as a multiplayer-focused game with extremely tight gameplay, great maps, interesting modes, and terrific postrelease support from Epic, the series' developer. To date, the Unreal series' console presence has been limited to versions of existing PC games. But the latest game to bear the name, Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict, has been designed from the ground up as a console game, and it shows. It feels perfectly tuned for the Xbox, right down to a surprising new camera perspective.
The big deal in Unreal Championship 2 is that it has an increased focus on up-close melee fighting. Plenty of first-person shooters have included a melee attack, but it's usually designed as a nearly useless last-ditch maneuver. In UC2, the melee attacks are given a great deal of priority--to the point where you can't even call this Unreal game a first-person shooter anymore. Unreal Championship 2 primarily takes place from a third-person perspective, which helps greatly with your sword and staff attacks, since you'll need to see the action going on around you to survive. This new perspective is the default for when you're rocking a gun, too, and it works just fine. If the shock of shooting a shock rifle from a behind-the-back perspective is too much to bear, you can drop back into a first-person view when you're firing guns, but the third-person view really does work great.
You're also much more maneuverable in Unreal Championship 2 than in a typical first-person shooter. While UT2004 let you double-jump, UC2 lets you get into all kinds of crazy wall jumping. You can repeatedly bounce from wall to wall, and this is a handy way to climb up to higher areas. Each character also has a set of special moves that require adrenaline to use. Fans of the series will remember how the previous Unreal Championship (and the last two Unreal Tournament games) used adrenaline as a slow build--you'd earn it for kills and by picking up pills, but it took a lot before you could unleash a special adrenaline power-up. In UC2, you're constantly earning adrenaline, and some moves don't require you to fill your entire meter. This means you'll be able to break out these moves more often, and now there are more moves to break out. Each character has six abilities. Many of these, like the ability to heal, are shared among the game's characters. You can also use a nimble power-up to jump higher and float in the air. Some characters have the ability to repel different types of weapon attacks. Still others can freeze you in your tracks or set off a flash bomb that blinds other players. That, combined with stamina and agility statistics for each character, makes your choice of combatant matter a great deal.
The maneuverability ties in well with the swords, axes, and staves. This is probably the most satisfying melee combat found in a tournament-style shooter, and little touches, like the ability to lock on to your opponents to help keep them onscreen, really helps make all this work. On top of that, the Unreal series' longtime Mortal Kombat influence is deeper than ever. If you can freeze or stun your opponent, you can bust out your sword, lock on, and input a quick button sequence to execute a coup de grace, which is really just the Unreal way of saying "fatality." These moves are fast and aren't terribly flashy, but it's a great way to finish off an opponent when he still has all of his health. However, these moves are fairly difficult, so they don't unbalance the game. The MK influence goes deeper due to Epic's new affiliation with Midway. You can opt to turn on "MK announcer" in the options, which replaces the Unreal announcer with the one used in Mortal Kombat: Deception. On top of all that, you'll probably notice fairly early on that one of the bots that the game randomly throws at you is Raiden, MK's thunder god. If you're very, very good at the game (or a dirty cheater), you can eventually unlock Raiden for your own use.
Choice seems to be the order of the day for Unreal Championship 2. In addition to choosing a character, you'll choose a weapon loadout before entering combat. Each character has a default gun and a melee weapon, but from there, you choose two more weapons. You'll get one explosive weapon, like the rocket launcher, grenade launcher, ripjack, or the ever-popular flak cannon. You'll also get one energy weapon, like a sniper rifle, shock rifle, an energy-based minigun called the stinger, or the bio rifle. We found we dealt the most death with the flak cannon and the stinger, but different maps may call for different loadouts. Some of the more vertical maps, for example, provide great spots for sniping.
The maps are widely varied, and there are 50 to choose from. With support for up to eight players, Unreal Championship 2 has a series of maps large enough to accommodate that many people, but it also has more-confined environments that are perfect for one-on-one duels. Some of the maps are broken out by mode, so you'll see a series of maps designed expressly for the new overdose game type, which tasks you with collecting a ball and delivering it to the same-colored goal to score points. You'll also see maps that are designed for capture-the-flag and some that are better suited for survival mode but that can also double as great deathmatch areas. With the large number of maps at your disposal, there's plenty to do and see.
- Player Reviews: 151
- Game Universe:
- Unreal Tournament (PC, DC, MAC, PS2),
- Unreal II: The Awakening (PC, XBOX),
- Unreal Tournament 2003 (PC, MAC),
- Unreal Tournament 2004 (PC, MAC, UNIX),
- Unreal (PC, MAC),
- Unreal Tournament III (PC, X360, PS3),
- Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict (XBOX),
- Unreal II: The Awakening Special Edition (PC),
- Unreal Championship (XBOX),
- Totally Unreal (PC)
- Offline Modes:
Competitive, Team Oriented
- Online Modes:
Competitive, Team Oriented
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
8 Players Online