Champions of Norrath is a standard hack’n slash action RPG similar to the Baulder’s Gate series. Nonetheless, the fun that it brings to the player is far ahead of Baulder’s Gate.
Basically Champions is created with the idea of being a fun multiplayer game. It is a great game to play with when you have up to four players. The single player mode is not bad for you would be able to get the standard satisfaction from an action RPG. You still level up and solve very basic puzzles but when being ambushed by enemies, you would regret coming on to the adventure alone. Some of the boss fights are tremendously difficult when you are in the single player mode. Luckily you could save and reload your adventure at any point to go through the level again and again for a speedy level up. That could help you a bit at the beginning of the adventure.
In terms of battle system, it is basic hack’n slash with the support of a quick spell book menu where you assign your different spells to your convenience. However, since all the other buttons on the controller are already occupied, you would only be able to assing two quick spell or ability at one time. So in case things go bad in a battle, that means your strategy is not working out. Once the quick spell book is full you have to change it from the menu screen. Certain abilities and spell consumes mana, and mana is the only thing that you can use to cast spell, so for magic users, carrying a lot of mana is a must, but this at the same time reduce your load capacity, which in return limits your the number of items that you can carry and sell (for all the hard earning gold). So some strategy is needed if you want to go through the battles and adventure more easily. Also replenishing life by usuing potion takes time too. So if you try to heal in the middle of an ambush, there would be a good chance that you die during the healing.
Different classes – Dark Elf, High Elf Cleric, Wood Elf Ranger, Babarian and Wizards – have their own abilities and spells that you could upgrade throughout your hard earned level up experience. Further, you need to open up certain abilities or reach certain levels before you could open up other abilities or spells in the line. So you have to really plan what you want so that you won’t be wasting the ability points that you earned through the levelling up. The maximum level of each ability and spell is 20 and there are quite a number of them for you to master, which keeps the game replayabel in this aspect. Also at the beginning of the game, you can assign a basic 20 upgrade points for your character to customise the style and ability that you want to start the game off with. You can also customise the look of your character and every time you assign or equip new items to the character, it will be shown in the menu screen, which adds to the fun as some of the equipment make them look very silly indeed. 🙂
You can also assign gems and stones to your weapon and armours to increase certain stats or add certain status effects to your attack. Nonetheless, gems are hard to find and in case you are in a four player game, that could be one of the things to compete for and start arguments. However, not all the gems are useful for they may benefit more to certain classes but this is also the interesting part as throughout the course of the game you could even change a magic user into a striker.
The levels are well design and each area have their own type of enemies. The enemies once got killed will lie on the ground so you know that you have visited this area before. That is something really good as the whole environment in a level looks a like, it is a good indication of showing that you have been here. Also the dungeons are randomly generated, so every time you revisit a place it could be different, which adds the replay value of the game. In terms of puzzles, there aren’t a lot and most of them you know what to do through the storyline. It is just that some of the puzzles and missions could be pretty annoying if you just fast forward the conversation when you play it for the first time.
Storywise, the story is quite basic with some twist and turns but the fun you gain from the game is from the customisation and gameplay, which makes the story less important which could be a down side in a way that this is after all a RPG. You couldn’t not expect an epic story like the Final Fantasy or Tales of Symphonia, but it offers a different type of enjoyment. Also the way the character communicates with you when his/her load capacity is full is very funny too.
For gamers, this is a definite good choice as a multiplayer RPG and it is great fun going alongside with your commrades to kill orcs and zombies. Nonetheless, there are quite a number of bugs in the game, including frame rate and also the most annoying freezing when you are in 4 player mode (usually happens when you try to get into your inventory. So save before opening inventory when you are in 4 player mode). Once froze you have to restart and all the hard work are gone. Hopefully Ubisoft will pay attention to this in the sequel release. Othe than that it is one of the more promising multiplayer RPG in the market.