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.