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Champions: Return to Arms
  opened by paleface at 18:14:34 07/04/05  
  last modified by paleface at 03:46:10 07/17/05  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Beat_em_up; loc=NA]
Pretty much more of the same as the prequel, "Champions of Norrath" (see entry 390). On the plus side, it seems to run better, the map doesn't get in the way of things, and there are two more character types, the the "puzzle" aspects seem to be less annoying, or at least less frequent. On the other hand, most of the art and sound content is recycled from the first game, and it's still more of the same mostly mindless monster bashing through random dungeon after random dungeon.
The bosses seem to be harder now, by which I mean that if you try slugging it out toe to toe with them, they'll butcher you. So you have to use that otherwise-neglected "Block" button against them. If you have two or more players, this means that the most strategy you'll have to do is have one player block while the other player(s) womp on the boss from behind. Occassionally the boss will do some kind of back attack, but just stay the course and they'll go down pretty quick.
The game supplies you with all kinds of magic resistance items, but you'll encounter very little actual magic: most foes just come straight at you and try to chop you, and since you're far more powerful than they are, if you just do the same thing, you'll slice your way right through the game without much trouble.
As with the prequel, you likely won't get anywhere near getting through your ability tree on the first play-through, so unless you're some sort of obsessive type who will play through the same genero-quest over and over, you won't be seeing the top abilities. I think--I mean, I'm not going to replay it, so there.
Champions is an improvement over its predecessor, but it's really just more of the same. It isn't bad, but it is bland. Perhaps its that blandness that gives it the almost hypnotic "slash slash slash loot loot back to town sell sell slash slash shash loot loot..." pattern that can keep me and a friend playing through it for hours and hours--the first time through, anyway.
  paleface 03:46:10 07/17/05
The balance here isn't so hot. Since you can always just stock up on health potions and drink them right in the middle of a fight to heal, I think the designers decided that they needed a way to defeat the players--keep them scared a bit--so they made bosses who can kill you in one or two hits. This isn't really that fun. Especially when those bosses are also faster than you, so if you try to retreat, they just run right up and smack you dead from behind.
The game has an "arena" mode, in which you try to clear a seemingly unending series of arena areas of monsters, who get tougher and tougher. It's a bit silly since you can't pick, I don't think, the starting difficulty, so you may have to go through a lot of batches of baddies before it gets challenging. Also, it doesn't seem to want to save your character after you end the thing, so I'm not sure what the point is exactly. You can also go online co-op and so forth, like the first one.
· Champions of Norrath (PS2)

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