If you're searching the review section looking to procure some professional input before making an informed decision about the game you're about to purchase, then you're certainly a gamer of refined tastes. I like you, fellow gamer. You're clearly an individual who wants to be absolutely certain about what you're about to buy before you spend your hard earned money. And given the economic mess we're in, who could possibly blame you?
I'm going to put all of your fears to rest by stating that this game is, quite possibly, the most amazing game I've ever played in my considerable experience of nerdery, geekiness, and shunning of physical activity. And believe me. You're going to buy this game. Let me tell you why:
For a Playstation 2 title, the graphics are actually surprisingly good. The level design offers a considerable amount of detail, textures, and environmental effects. Your in-game character is surprisingly articulate, and every change to their equipment is visually represented on screen. There is hardly any choppiness even when playing with multiple participants, and the game engine seems to make everything run very smooth.
The control scheme is remarkably simple, and well-mapped to the Playstation 2 controller. Everything feels very natural, and you wont often find yourself in awkward situations as a result of pressing the wrong button and executing a command you did not intend to. The game gives you the wonderful option to map a couple of your skills to the (circle, triangle, square) buttons, and those that you haven't mapped are still easily accessible on a wheel-type menu, even in the heat of battle.
Your enemies are both interesting and well-suited to the environments you'll be playing in.Read more ›
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining, but not exceptionalJuly 5 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
I've been enjoying good old hack-and-slash computer and video games since the days of the original Diablo. Therefore, when I read the reviews of Champions: Return to Arms, and saw that previous reviewers had noted on the redundancy of this game, I figured that after a while, any hack-and-slash saga could get old. There's only so much killing and looting one can do before the plot gets boring. Therefore, I went out and bought the game anyway under the impression that Return to Arms would at least elaborate on the plot in Champions of Norrath. I was wrong.
This game is extremely redundant. Aside from the two new player classes, the player characters are all the same. Exactly the same. No elaboration from the previous game whatsoever. I suppose this makes it easier to import your characters from Champions of Norrath, but it would have been nice to see some kind of elaboration in this department. Furthermore, many of the "bad guys" you fight are the same as in the previous game. Many of the characters you met in Champions of Norrath return. For example, Babik Nurn makes an appearance. Many of the locales are the same. You will again visit the gothic vampire castle, as well as the Pit of Ill Omen. Some of the quests are even familiar. Once again, the mermaid has lost her conch shell and would like you to find it for her. After you do this, you again are granted the ability to breathe underwater so you can fight some undead pirate skeletons. What does all of this add up to? The feeling that you just paid a bunch of money to play the Champions of Norrath all over again.
In addition, as with Champions of Norrath, the game seems to have several bugs. I've had the game freeze on me, and the screen seems to bounce around every time you're looking through your character's inventory. These are some minor technicalities that one might think would have been worked out after the several complaints that arose regarding the original game, however, that doesn't seem to be the case.
However, this isn't to say that the game is all bad. As I stated previously, I'm one to enjoy a decent hack-and-slash game, so I pushed onward and completed it in it's entirety. Any fan of the Dungeons and Dragons type RPG should find some decent entertainment value in Return to Arms, regardless of the aforementioned pitfalls. In addition, as with Champions of Norrath and both Baldur's Gate games, the graphics are incredible. I have yet to see video games as visually stunning as the stuff Snowblind puts out. It feels as though your characters are walking around in a diorama rather than on your television screen.
I've never tried the online play, in this or in any other game for that matter, so I can't comment on that. However, the rest of the game makes for hours of good fun if you don't mind a little bit of repetition. It's still worth buying, just don't expect anything too terribly ground-breaking.
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Champions of Norrath competes with itselfMarch 28 2006
Michael J. Tresca
- Published on Amazon.com
If you've played any of the Baldur's Gate series (I've beaten them all) or the previous installment of the EverQuest game for PS2, then you're now familiar with Snowblind Studios' game engine. So familiar, in fact, that you probably can't tell you're playing a different game.
We had already beaten Champions of Norrath and, hungry to use all the neat new powers and weapons we gained in the first game, purchased its sequel, Call to Arms. This time I played Quintus, a cleric, while my wife played Ilmare, an archer. We were back at it again, hacking and slashing our way to fame and fortune. But it all seemed so familiar...
That's because this is the same friggin' game! I'm not talking "inspired by the original Champions of Norrath." I don't mean, "it looks similar." I mean: the maps are the same, the dialogue is the same, the NPCs are the same. Yes, the same mermaid wants you to find her conch. And she grants the same ability to breathe underwater. Where you once again get to fight underwater pirates.
All these boards have been cleverly reshuffled to be "planes." So instead of any actual cohesive plot, it's all about traveling planes...the Plane of Islands. The Plane of Violence. The Plane of Why Did I Buy This Game Again?
Don't get me wrong; playing through Call to Arms gave us a reason to use our higher-level characters from the first game. The problem is that any dungeon hack worth his sword is a thorough sweep-and-loot kind of adventurer, which means he can pick a level clean. We get all the exp and cash and we don't stop until it's so cleaned out you can eat your iron rations off of the floor.
What that means is that our characters leveled. A lot. By the time we fought the idiot who I suppose qualifies as the "Avatar of Fear," we wasted him with little effort. The various minions up to that point fell just as easily.
And that's the problem with Call to Arms. Yes, it's got two new races (lizard people and tiger people). Sure, it has some new spells and powers. And there are a few new monsters. But fundamentally, this is the same game repackaged with the vain hope that you either didn't play the first game or won't notice that the repetition.
In a market chock full of online games, the Champions of Norrath line ends up competing with itself.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Let's set the record straight.Feb. 24 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
I just wanted to address a few of the mistaken claims made by other reviewers. There ARE changes in the character classes from the first champions game - I imported an old wizard of mine and there were new abilities for him in the skill tree. There IS a slight glitch that makes the inventory screen pulse a little but I haven't even found it to be a minor irritation, much less a problem. MUCH of the content for this game was carried over from the first - many of the environments are identical or slight variations on the first game's and many of the monsters are the same though there are quite a few new additions as well. For me this isn't a problem as Champions of Norrath and the Baldur's Gate games are some of my favorites on the PS2 and I can enjoy repeatedly what they offer.
One of the new additions to this game is that you can choose to go a "good" or an "evil" route (so far I've only done the good so I don't know how much difference in content there is between the 2). There are also medallion rounds where, if you overcome a challenge (some of which are quite difficult) you gain access to a extra level. Most of the extra levels are like the main game but some offer other options. One, for instance, allows you to bet on combatants in an arena.
Overall, I would have to say that I've very much enjoyed this game though it's true that it's heavily derivative of the first Champions.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing sequel to an addictive gameSept. 24 2005
Tso Haven Hei Wan
- Published on Amazon.com
Champions: Returns To Arms had the advantage of the success of the first game Champions of Norrath using a hugely improved gameplay and mechanism of Baulder's Gate. However, Returns to Arms itself is a very disappointing instalment for the series...if there is going to be another one.
Basic gameplay wise it is very similar to the first game. However, the twick and twist that was put into the sequel completely removed a lot of the fun factors offered by the original title. You can import your old characters from the first one into the new one, but then the abilities you earned from the first one was toned down. For example you will find the same skill now takes up more mana and if it is a summon e.g. the Hammer of Wrath for the Cleric class, it stays around much shorter than before. There are new skills to be learnt but then since they require higher level to unlock, it is a test of patience if you start a new character for the game.
The portal map approach didn't really do much good to the game apart from making some very taxing "side quests" available for players. But some of them are so difficult that you will just find them more like a frustration than fun. Even random enemies in the main story e.g. archers in the last dungeon could kill you with two hits. If this is the way that Snowblind thinks could prolong the game it is a bad move. Also the worst nightware is the inclusion of stealth unnecessarily inside the game. Especially all enemies in the stealth level is one hit kill on you disregard your level. Stealth works in action rpgs like Zelda and Beyond Good and Evil because it goes natural with the game, but in Champions, it looks awkward and at the same time frustrating. Just think if someone just like hack'n slash why would they want to play a very difficult stealth level in the middle of the game?
The game also has some very difficult bosses that can cause you to throw your controller, so get a sturdy controller before start playing it. Prices for stuff are as steep as they used to be and most of the time you can only get budget items from enemies, even in the courageous and champion modes. Also the fact that you can't repeat the same level again and again like the last game, and you can't import characters into a game once you started it made the whole gameplay very inflexible and annoying. For example you are in the middle of an adventure a friend came over and want to join. That could not be done unless you start a new game. This lack of flexibility compared with the first one is a HUGE put off factor for the fans of the series.
In all fans of the first game will still play this game but it certainly does discourage people to get the third one if there is any at all. The first Champions game got every aspect right but the sequel just ruined everything. But one thing is consistent between both games - you could not believe how many bugs are there in the game. Certainly more serious QC is needed for Snowblind in the future. Or maybe QCs there are all snow blinded?
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
If You've Played Champions of Norath All Your Hard Work Is Rewarded HereMarch 10 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
The sequel to Champions of Norath lets you import your old characters from that game so if you've played that game over and over again you start off here with a Level 50 character!Return to Arms is more hack n slash goodness with only a thread of a tale to send you on your way.The coolest surprise is that this time around you can choose to cross over to the dark side and actually crush all the elves you've fought alongside with in Part 1 and resurrect the evil demon Innoreuk you worked so hard to beat before!Of course you might wind up feeling guilty like I did and play it over as a good guy.Challenging minigames to win medals and bonus areas give it more variety than the orginal.Be warned though about the tricky stealth segment that will take a few tries to get through.Nothing groundbreaking but the fast actionpacked gameplay will keep you coming back for more.