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June 29, 2001

GW Xbox > Xbox Previews > Preview Page


Unreal Championship

Digital Extremes



March 2002


How many champions does it take to liberate a planet? Find out in our preview.

Update: Sep. 7, 2001

A new batch of screens now accompany our preview. These have to be seen! Miss at your own peril!

Unreal Championship for Xbox is a stand-alone product. That is something that needs to be said up front. This is not a port, a sequel, or a watered down version of a PC game. Unreal Championship has been designed from the ground up for, and to take advantage of, Xbox. Digital Extremes is behind the new game, in conjunction with Epic Games (creator of the Unreal game and engine). These are all important background facts to keep in mind when looking at this upcoming title. One of the major complaints about Xbox is that it will become a port machine for PC games. This is not the case with Unreal Championship.

One of the ways Unreal Championship looks to set itself apart from not only its PC cousins, but also the console brethren, is the use of not only the Unreal engine, but the technological capabilities of Microsoft's console as well. One of the biggest selling points in any FPS game is its visual flair. Ever since the days of Doom, developers have been trying to get realistic visuals to immerse the player and fully draw them into the universe that has been created. Digital Extremes has created some of the most beautiful environments in any game, PC or console. This is the first game that has foliage looking like, well, foliage.

There are six planets in Unreal Championship, each with distinct terrain characteristics. You can look forward to battling it out for supremacy in environments ranging from the ice planet to the desert planet. A forest planet is also included (boasting some of the best visuals), as well as a volcanic world. Two other worlds round out the main stages, those being a robot planet, and a barren, rocky planet. Each of the planets boast expansive environments in which to not only run around and blast your opponents, but to lie in wait and ambush them as well.

The remarkable visuals are tied into the physics of the game as well. Beams of light will reflect realistically, as they would in the real world. You will have to be careful, because you might give away your position with a reflection of the sun on your weapon. Smoke and dust will also be visually impressive in Unreal Championship. Shoot a weapon through a cloud of smoke and watch as the smoke parts and moves, as you would expect it to in real life.

The story of Unreal Championship is different than that of any of the other iterations of Unreal, further distancing itself from its PC roots. Digital Extremes has employed a full time writer, whose sole job is to provide not only the story, but also background information on each of the planets and characters appearing in the game. Each characters story will mesh into the overall story arc throughout the game.

The six worlds in Unreal Championship have been invaded by an alien race. Each of these six distinct worlds will have their own playable characters, with both female and male counterparts to each species. Each race wishes to be liberated from the rule of the tyrannical invading aliens. A championship is being held to determine the best warrior in the system, which provides the window of opportunity needed. Each level of the championship brings you closer and closer to the alien emperor. Eventually, if you get close enough, it just might be possible to take out the emperor and free your planet from the alien's rule.

But you will have some competition in your quest to bring liberation to your planet. Each of the six worlds has sent participants into the championship. Each of those contestants will also be trying to take you out in order to rid their world of the alien emperor. Whether online, or off in the single player mode, the game plans to challenge you in ways that console FPS games haven't before.

The single player portion of the game will pit you against the AI of Unreal Championship, and with the script writing that is taking place, could be one of the most engrossing games, FPS or otherwise, to come to a console in a long time.

Although the single player experience promises to be something to look forward to, most FPS fans want the trill of multi-player mayhem, and Unreal Championship delivers. Designed for multi-player, the game is being held back until Microsoft has its broadband network ready for launch. When the game and broadband gaming network do finally arrive, up to 32 players will be able to participate in online matches at a time.

The game brings to battle some items that players of previous incarnations of Unreal are used to. Certain weapons will be appearing in Unreal Championship that will be familiar (such as the Flak Cannon and the rocket launcher), but the game, being a stand-alone story, comes equipped with its own set of weapons as well. Vehicles will also be prominently featured in the game, not just as a mode of transportation, but also as a method of laying waste to your opponents.

There will be over 25 total levels in the game. But don't expect the fun to stop there. With the online component and other (secret) unlockable features, this game might be one that gamers play for a long time after having mastered the game. The requisite deathmatch and capture the flag scenarios, along with the online components should keep FPS fans coming back for more.

Daniel "monk" Pelfrey
Is unreal himself.

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