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Champions of Norrath
  opened by paleface at 20:57:33 02/16/04  
  last modified by paleface at 22:39:32 10/24/04  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Beat_em_up; loc=NA]
Download added: goblins.jpg (19291 bytes)
  "In the first levle you bash goblins. Those brown guards are always getting in the way."
Four-player simultaneous dungeon-bashing? And from the makers of the surprisingly nice Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance? Yeah, I'll take that. Only brief play so far--single player very boring, multiplayer pretty amusing as everyone madly hacks away trying to get loot. It sucks that everyone has to wait while someone messes around in their inventory (you'd think they could have done a little window corner inset or something... no need to go crazy and require additional hardware a la FF: Crystal Chronicles though :p) as this makes for frequent interruptions to the action.
  paleface 22:37:01 10/24/04
Champions of Norrath is supposed to support up to four players at once on a single PS2, and I guess technically it does, but it's stuck with developer Snowblind's "Baldur's Gate" (see entry 414 for the sequel, not by Snowblind but much like the first Baldur's Gate) inventory system where you have to go into a separate screen to twaddle with levelling and swapping armor and things, and only two people can be in there at once--so the other two are stuck with nothing to do except yell at the people messing about in their inventory to hurry up.
Also, the game isn't quite as snazzy looking visually as Baldur's Gate--the textures look kinda nicish but they're grainy somehow, and in general the camera is pulled back pretty far so you can't see all the nice character detail (you can push the camera to a closer setting, but it's way too close and you can't see anything around you).
It's fun enough to go through bashing things with clubs and frying them with spells, though, as long as you don't have expectations beyond that. You'll do it over and over, and then in theory over and over again, because in order to get anywhere near to getting all your skills and things you'd have to play the game about three times through, I think. That sort of stinks. For instance my brother and I beat the final boss, but my shadow night or whatever still couldn't access her best skills due to level requirements, and the skills she did have were for the most part just barely levelled up. It's an artificial way of extending the game beyond the actual content, and I suppose Snowblind were inspired to this by the MMP PC game Everquest on which Champions is loosely based.
The game is really buggy--not so much combat bugs or visual glitches, but good, hard crashes. We crashed or got stuck in trigger problems at least three or four times in our single play-through. We also happened upon a nice little bug that lets you max out your character attributes during character creation. Heh. All I can say is: save often. Sheesh.
Even at the best of times the game doesn't run at what you could call a blistering framerate, and certain spell effects slow it way down. Certain dungeons seem to push the memory capacity (streaming capacity?) to its limits, and you'll see blank areas loading in gradually on the screen.
The initial areas, regular caves and forests, are very boring, as are the monsters. These gradually get more and more interesting as a whole as the game progresses, fortunately.
Still, due to the "random" dungeon generation a-la Diablo, you won't find any in-depth scripted type of sequences here except maybe in the few set-piece dungeons. For instance, Baldur's Gate II has a dungeon where you get trapped and gas is seeping in and you have to run out past falling stuff, but that won't happen here because the dungeon is random and the developers couldn't script anything requiring a known escape route. On the other hand, if you're being a good boy and replaying the game the way they want you to, you'll be sort of pleased to find the dungeons slightly rearranged each time. Is this strategy the way to go? Well, not if you're catering to players like me who will not in general be replaying the entire game, but I suppose it really extends the life for people who don't have many other things to do.
But don't let me talk the game down too much--bugs and level grinding and generic dungeons aside, my brother and I played all the way through it (one friend started with us but got frustrated and bailed, much preferring BGII), so that should tell you something.
· Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II (PS2)
· Champions: Return to Arms (PS2)
· X-Men Legends (PS2)

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