Unreal 2: eXpanded MultiPlayer
Well, it only took them 12 months I suppose. Which isn't really that long - if you're an elf or a giant turtle, that is. For the rest of us, it's felt like a lifetime for this Unreal II multiplayer patch to arrive. Fashionably called XMP - much cooler than its spod-like and grossly misleading full title Expanded Multiplayer - it bears more than an uncanny resemblance to the new Onslaught mode in UT 2004, with a hint of Capture the Flag thrown in for good measure. Still, for the uninitiated, a little more detail before we start casting judgements. M'kay?
XMP is a tale of two teams vying for control of four artefacts. To win, you have to break into the enemy's stronghold, nab the booty and leg it back home without getting your legs blown off. Should be easy, right? Well, no actually.
See, the problem lies with energy - or rather, the lack of it. Dotted liberally around each map are power generators, which must be captured to fuel your team's war effort. The more power you possess, the more vehicles you can drive and turrets you can man. Or should that be person? Hard to tell these days. Moving on...
X Marks The Spot
The three class types at your disposal here are varied. Gunners are your bog-standard heavily armed, thickly protected human battering rams that walk slower than a gammy-kneed sumo wrestler. Rangers are masters of infiltration and speed, with the ability to heal team-mates; while playing as the Tech class allows you to hack faster and deploy battlefield defences and turrets. Each class has a superb array of weaponry and controlling each one is subtly, yet fundamentally different. What's more, the ability to leap great heights with your fitted jumpjets makes for some interesting duelling. Success then, is based on teamwork. So it's a real shame that the small number of people playing XMP generally consists of glory boys and waste-of-spacers. However, on the rare occasions when you do stumble across a well-organised team, XMP is very nearly a joy to play.
Yes, nearly. Y'see, XMP could and should have been so much better than it is. All the elements for success are there, yet they're hampered by several annoying shortcomings.
First, on anything under a 1 MB pipe, games can often chug more painfully than a rusty steam train, making sniping a redundant art, while controlling vehicles is next to impossible.
What's more, most of the vehicles are far too cumbersome to be effective, and it's way too easy for a lone gunner to take out a lumbering tank.
Add to this the small number of servers - about 50 on average - the majority of which are nearly or completely empty, plus the limited appeal of just one game mode and it's hard to see much of a future for XMP. Once UT 2004 takes off with its vastly supenor vehicles, it could all be over for this belated patch. Yes it's fun, but short of a miracle, its days are numbered. That'll teach it to keep us waiting. Now, where did I put my pension book?
Download Unreal 2: eXpanded MultiPlayer
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP