New York City
November 30th 2004

I continue to be awed at the enormous size of New York City. Nice place to visit, but I refuse to live there, just too big for this country boy. However, Midway graciously invited BeyondUnreal to attend a fun filled LAN event in NYC. I assume they expected the city to intimidate us so they can whip us like circus baboons, but we held our own and even pulled off a few cool combos.

The game play hasn’t changed too much from when I played the first build. Although that may sound negative, trust me when I say the first build of Unreal Championship 2, in my opinion, was strong enough to be released for retail. Yet the game had room to grow and Microsoft wisely chose to hand this project over to someone who can take it to the next level. This is where Midway grasped the proverbial torch from Microsoft and added more balance, optimizations, and cool extras.

Midway signed a deal with Epic for one Xbox game and two PC Unreal engine based titles. We can’t comment on the PC titles, but we all know that the Xbox game is Unreal Championship 2. Midway kicked off the party right. Midway’s Tim DaRosa was a very gracious host and took extra care to make this LAN party a hit. The party was held in New York City’s Club Strata. The place was decorated with large HDTV’s and projector screens displaying the game and prerecorded in-game movie scenes. Like a fat kid at a free McDonald’s buffet, I hurtled toward one of the Xbox stations, pausing only to glance at a beautiful blonde surrounded by drooling Epic guys –obviously she was lost and needed directions to the exit. Since I’m married, I’ll truthfully state I ignored the “she takes her vitamins” distraction and sat at the closest game station.

Like most PC gamers, I inherently possess a complete revulsion to using a controller pad. However, my negative feelings subsided after a few drinks, cheerfully purchased by Epic and Midway – again, another attempt by them to gain the edge before we battled. I reluctantly reached for the controller and instinctively went to the configuration screen. As with the first build, the player can’t remap any of the keys and, as of right now, there are no plans to allow players to do so in the retail version. Yet the game does provide an option for inversed control for the unfortunate misfits who don’t appear on the evolution chart. Another disappointment was the inability to create your own profile, but I was assured the retail will allow people to create their own profiles. In addition, the profiles will save all the player’s stats –wins, losses, etc. Unreal Championship 2 will support Xbox live, but I couldn’t get any details about how much support the game will have for Xbox live 3.0 or downloadable content –we’ll have that information in the upcoming interview. Moving past those issues, I entered the character selection screen. For this event, Midway and Epic decided to limit the character choice to just three, but they did provide some details about one popular character.