For fans of “Champions of Norrath” that just love the hack n’ slash RPG adventure you’re dreams have been answered with the sequel from Sony On-Line Entertainment – “Champions: Return to Arms.” In this game, there are 2 new playable races, a new storyline, a deeper online and multiplayer experience, nicely detailed environments, secret gameplay modes, new monsters, weapons and items and more. For you PC snobs that loved games like “Diablo” and want to justify using your PS2, then this game is right up your alley.
• A continuation of the fantasy storyline of Champions of Norrath , with exciting twists and turns that require the player to choose his or her fate
• Two new playable races
• Earn medals based on gameplay performance, which can then be used to unlock secret levels
• Thousands of new items, weapons, armor and magical artifacts to acquire
• All-new and beautifully detailed environments
• New spells and abilities for all classes
• A host of new monsters to battle and non-player characters to encounter
• Secret Epic items of incredible power found through unlockable side quests
• The ability to import characters from the original game and start on a higher difficulty level
• Increased level limits – take characters to level 80!
• More than 50 gameplay areas along with a mission system containing non-linear side quests
• Multitap support for up to 4 players
• Superior online multiplayer options for up to 4 players via Network Adaptor – no additional subscription fees required (players must provide their own internet connection and PlayStation 2 Network Adaptor for online gameplay modes)
• All new multiplayer and online gameplay options
• Import and download characters via Memory Card
Champions: Return to Arms features a nicely put together set of interactive environments full of special effects and things to blow up and slash through. The first thing that will catch you eye is the nicely detailed world which is the highlight of the game’s graphics. They’re nicely diverse, richly details, and offer up a nice experience going through the many levels of the game.The camera angles aren’t terribly diverse, as there’s just a zoom feature, but the standard camera angle that you start out with should be the one that you’ll want to play with. The monsters, your character, and the special effects that occur with magic and spells (or other such occurences) are nicely done as well, and overall bring a pretty nice RPG graphical environment for the game.
The sounds of the game are pretty standard stuff when it comes to action RPG games. Special spells sound good, monsters sound scary … and the soundtrack has the standard RPG fantasy theme-track.
For those of you that played the first title in this series, then there’s the feature list to go over as the new highlights to talk about when it comes to gameplay. For those of you new to the series, Champions plays just like your standard PC Hack N Slash title, only you play it on your PS2 console system. There’s a nice background storyline that makes the game worth playing, while you create your “Champion” and fight through levels while increasing you attributes and skills while finding new weapons, armor, and other goodies.
Playing through this title was a nice experience and one thing that *must* be applauded is the support for FOUR players in the game! Those of you with multi-tap system add-ons for your PS2 will definitely enjoy getting your 3 geekiest friends over for some good fun. Playing the game with just 2 players is still fun, and of course, the solo experience is great as well. With the advent of on-line multiplayer play via the broadband-only connection for the PS2, there’s a lot of depth to playing the game through solo on your own, as well as playing the game on-line.The amount of spells, character types, and levels continue to challenge you, but the levels aren’t repetitive enough to make things boring. You’ll just want to kill that next boss, or level up just one more time to the point where you’ve lost hours of your day. It’s a fun RPG game that many PS2 owners will enjoy, and should cross over many PC gamers for a good time.
ONLINE / MULTIPLAYER
You play through the game by yourself, you can play with up to 3 more friends, or you can play on-line … in any senario it’s a nice long RPG adventure that is definitely worth the money spent on the game. You’ll play it through to the end and might do it a couple of times via the different play modes with different characters. A nice longevity factor for the game.
The game itself isn’t highly original since we’ve seen RPGs similar to this on every platform, and even in the EverQuest franchise. What is unique is the robust on-line features for the game and the new monsters and weapons/spells in this title.
Overall, Champions: Return to Arms is a nice title that should make RPGers extremely satisfied with the gameplay. There’s secret missions, on-line play, and other goodies in the game to keep you coming back for more time and again. Personally, I lost way too many hours in the game just *trying to get past this level* in an effort to beef up my character. It’s a nice RPG and looks great on the PS2, and is well worth your gaming dollar – it’s totally fun and addicting to play.