Programmers Joe Graf and Stephen Superville proudly directed my attention to the new sniper weapon's zoom feature. The zoom option deforms the world around the large center of the cross hair with misty shades of red. Joe was excited to show off another nice effect related to the speed boost. Initiating the speed boost creates a stunning real-time motion blur effect surrounding the model (see last screen shot on the previous page). Almost all power-up features require a varying amount of adrenaline. Going further, the developers worked hard on the light, shadow and environmental effects.

Shadow detail and its interaction with light produce a very realistic experience. The water effects compelled me to search for a pair of swimming shorts. Another feature that generated enthusiasm among the players is the highly animated and Yoda like boost dodge and jump combinations. If you are a fan of trick jumps from UT2003, then this game is for you. Unreal Championship 2 allows for extreme jump tricks and when combined with certain adrenaline abilities, a player can Jackie Chan off any surface of the map.

The maps provided in this early build were bursting with detail. From hanging icicles that distorted light to rooms that would make an architect drool; this game does it all. The final version is expected to provide between 40 to 50 maps. Unreal Championship 2 uses two to four times more polygons than UT2004 and the XBox did not show any signs of stress. The models interacted with the environment in perfect harmony.

For those who continue to moan about hard to see skins, Unreal Championship 2 provides a mystic glow around every model. Even in team based games, like CTF and TDM, it wasn't hard to see a team mate or opponent. Talking about team based game types, we expected some lag with all the extra features and effects. Yet, intranet and hardware lag was never an issue. The game ran fast and smooth. One major source of fustration for me and several other individuals was the annoying pause option. If one person paused the game, then everybody's game was paused.

Overall, Unreal Championship 2 highly impressed this old console hater, and I strongly believe a majority of the hardcore PC fans will love it too. HALO take a bow and exit stage left because Unreal Championship 2 is on next. The game is currently slated for a third quarter release and I could not believe the build I played wasn't even closely related to a final product. My attitude towards the Epic and Microsoft partnership changed and I found a renewed belief that sequels can surpass their predecessors. After the event, I felt a strong urge to purchase an XBox. Yet by pure coincidence, or the power of the ring, my wife called me. Even Billy G. can't overcome her powers.

I want to give my personal thanks to Microsoft's Ted "No Stress" Brockwood, Charlie "I got this covered" Scibetta, and Darren "If they stay, it is good" Trencher. As always, all love and no bites to Epic's Cliff "I still look good" Bleszinski, Joe "Yeah, I did that" Graf, and Stephen "Peace to you hippies" Superville. A special shout-out to Urian Brown of and Jeffrey Tseng of Secret Level.