straightforward simplicity of killing everything
in your way is the hallmark of shooters and
hack and slash games. Champions: Returns to
Arms picks up where Champions of Norrath left
off. As a basic hack and slash it's got everything
that would make you happy with no filler. So
grab an axe, a sword, some potions and a few
spells and join the melee.
quite possible that Champions: Return to Arms
is the best hack and slash game ever created.
Unfortunately it has been built atop the foundation
of Champions of Norrath. So much so that fans
of that game may feel somewhat betrayed that
Return to Arms is so similar. Consider it an
improved version of Champions of Norrath - almost
like an expansion pack that uses the same map.
action is relentless if not entirely predictable.
It's no secret the gameplay can become a tedious
affair after a time since you will have little
more to do than block and attack using axes,
swords and magic. Familiar locations such as
the lava stage, an underwater level, the sky
dungeon and the forest have been recycled. Although
there are new enemies, they still attack in
the same unintelligent pattern while wielding
weapons which range in destructiveness according
to the level of the classes. Your best defense
against the enemy is health and magic potions.
Bring these along on every dungeon crawl because
there are places such as the dragon's lair that
you can't run out of.
story is a bit thin. Revealed through cutscenes
with the requisite bad voice acting, you are
on the hunt to collect shards of the shattered
god Innoruuk who was defeated in the last game.
You can play as either good or bad alliances
in this game. The Vah Shir Berserker and the
Iksar Shaman are two new classes that you can
play as. They are basically amalgams of all
of the five classes. The Berserker has access
to lots of axes which he can throw to make him
one of the better equipped ranged fighters.
developers have managed to instill a sense of
freedom to the game, at least in terms of exploring.
In the big picture the game is linear but there
are different ways to go about tackling it.
The dungeons are rich with goodies. Weapons,
potions, health and spells are plentiful depending
on your character and his or her propensity
to use them effectively. New levels can be unlocked
by playing mini-games in which you have a time
limit to kill a specified amount of enemies.
Called the medal rounds, it exists out of the
you play through the game as all characters
the replay value is tremendous - but keep in
mind that's a hell of a lot of button mashing.
If you left the game alone for a few weeks at
a time you could squeeze so much more out of
it. Then of course there are the improved online
modes which supports a friends' list and a server
filter system that all but eliminates cheating.
you can expect to see is one incredibly good
looking game. It's very refined and polished.
The animation is very smooth. Character models
are fully realized and are never obscured by
the backgrounds thanks to some excellent 3D
rendering which uses lighting, colors, shades
and focus to fix images in a specific dimensional
plane. In other words, it's easier to see things
which are closer to you and the background remains
in the background.
an otherwise perfect presentation is the repetitive
music and poor voiceacting. At least you can
skip the cutscenes although you may want to
see them the first time through.
Return to Arms is an excellent example of an
action RPG in the tradition of Gauntlet. It's
not innovative which may be of concern to fans
of the genre but newbies are well advised to
get this game if they want to learn how to dungeon
crawl with the best of them.