Do you guys remember LAN parties? Even though I never went to one there was a group of kids at my middle school who loved hosting them in the computer labs. They’d order pizza and drink energy drinks all night while gaming. Unreal Championship was built for LAN parties, it’s the ultimate party game for fans of first-person shooters especially before the Call of Duty series took off. In 2002, developers Epic Games teamed up with publisher Atari and released “Unreal Championship” for the original Xbox. How did the hectic fast-paced FPS hold up in my book?
Unreal Championship doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It’s a party first-person shooter. Set before your shit Fortnite that I’ve never played or PUBG, and even before Call of Duty became popular, Unreal Championship was for gamers who loved fast-paced action. These types of games often come with no story or plot but I was pleasantly surprised to see all the details that went into the character bios. At the beginning of the game, there is a short FMV with a couple of characters entering the arena before they battle. It felt very much like a WWF intro with sparks shooting everywhere, fans in the crowd going nuts, and huge hulking warriors walking near the center of the arena.
After you watch the intro you can select your team from an impressive roster of characters. There are about five or six characters from each “race” or “clan” however you want to call the groups. These clans are made from humans, genetically enhanced large humans, robots, devils, Egyptian warriors, and more. Overall there are about 35 characters to select and place on your team. Each one comes with a bio which I appreciated reading. Even if I wasn’t going to select that character I enjoyed reading about them. There was one character that made me laugh out loud. She was a really ugly woman and her bio described her as being hit with the ugly stick too many times and that she knows it. It was the type of human you won’t find in today’s video games.
I’ll remind you that I played this by myself so I can only speak on the single-player experience which is too bad because I think with friends this game might have scored better in my book but there are a few big flaws in this game that make it suck. My first complaint is the controls. The sensitivity of the camera view is way too quick. You might barely tap the joystick and the camera goes flying in one direction. Imagine how painful this would be to play when it’s a quick arena shooter. You can’t get a good lock on a target because you are constantly jingling the controls to find them in your view. It doesn’t matter if you are looking up or turning left your camera control absolutely sucks and it makes the game more difficult than it needs to be. As an arena shooter, I’m sure they thought they were doing the players favor with the quick camera turn but man it just doesn’t work. I really wish they would have put in the setting the ability to change how fast the view spins because that would have made a huge difference in how I viewed this game. I mentioned it would have been better with friends because at least when you play against humans they would have been stuck with the same bad controls as you would be.
Besides the character bios, there is no story which is okay I suppose as that’s not the point of the game so let’s dig into the game modes. Do you remember all the game modes in Call of Duty games for multiplayer? Many of them are in Unreal Championship. You have deathmatch which was my favorite mode and the one that I excelled in the most. You climb the ladder with your team facing seven rounds of teams. When you beat all seven rounds you’ll receive a trophy for your hard work.
Here’s another huge problem with Unreal Championship. They lock game modes until you make progress in the mode before it. That means that Capture the Flag, Double Domination, Survival, and Bombing Run are all locked. What they should have done is unlocked all of them from the start and have the first round unlocked letting the player choose which way they want to take on the modes. Unfortunately, I only beat Team Deathmatch, made it halfway through Capture The Flag, and gave up after a few tries on Double Domination. That means I never got to play Survival or Bombing Run which sucks because the latter sounds fun! You could be a God at Survival but you won’t ever play it if you suck at Capture the Flag. Just doesn’t make sense that they chose to lock them.
Unreal Championship was one of those games I bought on eBay because I had heard of the series before and figured I’d give it a shot. I quickly realized after popping it in that it was meant for friends and lots of co-op action. Unfortunately, I have no friends and nobody likes me including my wife so I had to play this by myself. Sure, I should have played with some friends to experience the true nature of this game but as a single-player experience, I was pretty disappointed. I quickly stopped playing this game after a few days of trying to climb the ladders of game modes.
Unreal Championship is very rough around the edges, there is some fun to be had but only with friends. The bizarre choice of locking modes and terrible camera control really hurt Unreal Championship in the end.
Unreal Championship scores a 5.1 out of 10.
Do you remember when Unreal Championship first came out? Did you spend weekends playing with your friends? Who was your favorite character and game mode to play? Did you unlock all game modes? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments.
If you’d like to own a copy of Unreal Championship you can purchase a used copy of it for the Xbox for $10 on eBay.