Champions: Return to Arms
to the highly popular Champions of Norrath is finally here and for those
of you who are less informed on the Champions series and what the
original was about, here is a little peak at the game. Champions of
Norrath was a third person action adventure RPG that consisted of tons
of dungeons. The game also included online capabilities, but to be quite
honest the game really never took off on the online realm. With that
being said this was a very deep and complex Action RPG that was not only
a lot of fun but a great gaming experience. Now does Return to Arms
carry that same sort of quality with it or is this a forgettable sequel?
In the beginning, Return to Arms starts similarly Champions of Norrath,
with you creating your character. But this time around, the developers
have added two more races to the bunch, which include the Vah Shir
Berserker and the Iskar Shaman. These two new characters are a welcome
addition, but don't offer up much difference in terms of gameplay
mechanics between them and the returning characters. I would have loved
to have seen more of them added, but then again there is always room for
So moving from the characters into the game story, I must say that I did
expect more from Return to Arms than they offered in this game. Similar
to the first game, you really never grab a hold of what is going on in
the game, nor do you ever really care. Never once does the game really
try to get you interested, it's a very linear type storyline that never
once in the game gained any steam.
So now we see that the storyline is pretty disappointing, does the
gameplay make up for those faults? Well this year's game, to be honest,
isn't a whole lot different from the last edition. When I say that I am
not being all negative because that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's
just right when you start the game you feel like you are literally
starting where the game left off last time. There have been some
gameplay tweaks and improvements but nothing that makes this game all
that much different (playing wise) then the previous. You will spend
most of your time from dungeon to dungeon taking on swarms of monsters,
and then moving on to the next dungeon. The combat system is still as
addictive as last time and works excellently, with plenty of variety and
an easy to pick up system.
But by far for those of you who remember Champions of Norrath's online
components will be happy to know that this is where most of the major
improvements in the game have taken place. No longer will you have the
silent lobbies that you could never find a game in. No longer will you
wait around for fifteen minutes to find a game and then later on just
getting booted off from it. Now SOE has showed us that they are still
great at online play and implemented some very intriguing online play.
Just the look of the online realm is so much more improved then last
years game. Online the game really plays well, it's not anything
revolutionary but I found it to be quite entertaining.
In terms of the single player, Return to Arms doesn't really offer
anything new or exciting from last year's game. But in terms of the
online component, SOE and Snowblind Studios really stepped it up and
provided us with a great online play that will most likely attract many
action RPG fans.
When we look back at Champions of Norrath, we see a game that closely
resembled Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, and with that being said it
contained an overview third person view that really looked quite good.
This time around does Return to Arms improves upon the previous games
The common trend with Return to Arms (except for the online play) is a
lack of change in the game. The graphics also fall into this category as
this game almost looks identical to Champions of Norrath. The visuals of
Return to Arms really make the game feel more like an expansion pack
then a new game, because they just look so similar. Of course this isn't
necessarily a bad thing as I found the first game to look quite good;
all of the character models seem well detailed and nicely designed. The
environments look identical to the last game in terms of quality which
is quite unfortunate.
Overall it's not that the visuals of Return to Arms are bad, but instead
they just aren't an improvement over last year's game. I guess all that
could be said from this point is that the game leaves plenty of room for
improvement for a third installment.
In conclusion, Champions: Return to Arms, even with its flaws, is still
a very well made third person action RPG. For those of you fans of the
original wishing for better online support should definitely check out
Return to Arms, because I think it just may have what you are looking
for. And for those of you who missed out on the original, you should go
give this game a try - it's got quite a bit to offer.