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Unreal Championship 2

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Gaming

As you might already be expecting, it's a game best played with your mates, and unlike previous UT or UC titles, the need to play it multiplayer is probably even more marked here thanks to a fairly short single-player campaign that really knows how to bust your balls, despite being something of a glorified training ground.

The story-lead Ascension Rites kicks off proceedings with a typically earnest sci-fi yarn that an equal number of people will get and the other half will be rolling their eyes between fits of giggles, so we'll leave it up to you to decide which 'camp' you're in. It's not really important why you're tasked with shooting people for sport; it's just more arena based combat, okay? Get over the fact that the protagonist Anubis wants to assert his masculinity and prove he's got the correct amount of testosterone pumping around his torso, or that his uber-breasted ex Selket is a bit of a sour puss. There's killing to be done. Flags to capture, heads to be sniped.

Although a selection of familiar weapons make their comeback (Stinger, Flak Cannon, Rocket Launcher, Sniper, etc.), they play an almost equal role. While, yes, it is possible to just play the game as a straight-down-the-line FPS, it's fair to say you won't be getting the most out of what there is to experience here - and besides, sometimes you won't even have a weapon at your disposal, so it's best to try and get on with the melee combat as early as possible for when it's the only thing available to you.

Soon enough you're engaging in a selection of familiar ladder matches, getting to grips with the third-person perspective, and working out whether it makes much difference to shoot in first-person or not. The choice is yours, and although you can switch between the two with the touch of a button, it's a little jarring to even have to think about it. Probably the game's central problem is that the learning curve is steep enough for it to be a tough game to learn to love. Regardless of whether you've played first person shooters for the last 13 years, this isn't a game you can just jump into and expect to gel with immediately - mainly because there's a lot more to it than meets the eye, and the game doesn't exactly make it easier for you by populating it with some impressively tough AI bots.

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