Champions of Norrath
Know Your Role
Each character class in Champions has its own unique set of abilities and spells. For instance, the wood-elf ranger can shoot flaming arrows, while the shadow knight can befriend the undead and emit a trail of pestilence. Since EverQuest is relatively unknown compared with D&D, itll take you a while to discover which group possesses your favorite tricks. (We could barely stand looking at the gaudily dressed erudite wizards, so they remain an unknown quantity for us.)
We took our pointy wizards hats off to the excellent Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance for bringing Gauntlet-style hack-n-slash thrills back to consoles, and now, Alliances original developers return with a fantastic action-RPG set in Sonys EverQuest universe. (The big difference? Urn...well, the ores look a little different, we guess.) Champions mimicks everything that we loved about Alliance but actually takes it all a step further, with extensive item customization, enhanced graphics, more variety to its straightforward all-monsters-must-die missions, a ton of levels, and up to four-player simultaneous play, both online and off. The best part, though, is that the heart of the game Champions tight fight-or-flight game-play remains utterly engaging either alone or with friends helping you out. And luckily, Champions visuals are up to par with the gameplay. Cavernous dungeons and web-filled tombs have an almost photo-realistic look to them, and visual effects (like the light cast from a flaming sword) will have you geeking out, looking for new weapons to ogle. Great as it is, Champions still isnt perfect. Though its much less pronounced than in Alliance, the constant sword swinging and spellcasting does still get repetitive over time something that more monster variety and additional subquests could have alleviated. So although Champions clearly reigns as current king of the action-RPG hill, theres still room before it reaches the peak.
Enough with the BGDA comparisons this game stands on its own as a totally fun hack-n-slash ride. You dont have to follow the story too closely, but youll still enjoy the rich environments, well-acted dialogue, and cool characters, from sexy undead villains (oh, Lord Vanarhost!) to pus-filled ant queens (eew!). What drew me in most, however, was the deep character customization. Adding an extra critical hit point or upgrading my helmet with a vampire fang to increase mana regeneration kept me playing, even through the repetitive parts...which brings me to the games only significant flaw. It doesnt require enough strategy in single- or multiplayer you can almost always charge in, fire arrows or lightning hammers ablazing, and youll beat your enemies just fine. But I cant complain too much about that, now, can I?
Based on how much I despise the massively dull massively multiplayer EverQuest Online Adventures for PS2,1 fully expected to also hate Champions. But I cant! This game is too great. Champions reminds me of the classic arcade action of Gauntlet, only with infinitely more depth. Fantastic visuals, fun combat, complex and superbly designed dungeons, and even an engaging story line combine to keep players enraptured. To top all that off, while its plenty enjoyable solo, its even better multiplayer or online with friends. I missed the boat on developer Snowblinds previous actioner, Dark Alliance. Maybe you did, too, but dont let this one get away.
Download Champions of Norrath
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
It has been established that Everquest is a fantastic PC MMORPG, an okay console MMORPG, and a bad RTS game' but how is it as a traditional console dungeon hack? That's the direction Snowblind and Sony Online Entertainment is taking the lucrative franchise with Champions of Norrath, the latest hack-n-slash title set in the EverQuest universe.
Much like the Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance series, Champions of Norrath doesn't deviate much from the traditional hack-n-slash formula of hacking, looting, and leveling. In fact, it's identical to nearly every other dungeon hack out there, from Diablo to Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. Nevertheless, Champions of Norrath still comes out on top by focusing on the little things that have otherwise been avoided on the consoles -- little things such as character creation and customization, randomly made dungeon maps, and cooperative online play. Without these features, Champions of Norrath would be just another standard, if not well made dungeon hack. However, with these features, Champions of Norrath breaks a lot of ground for the genre, even if some of it's a bit shaky. Online play for example is a lot of fun, but its can be frustrating since character data isn't hosted on SoE servers. That means that if the host of the game gets disconnected, then all the data from the last save point is lost. When that's coupled with the fact that newcomers can't join a game in progress and the voice chat can be buggy, it's easy to see that the online portion can provide more frustration than entertainment.
However, at its core the Champions of Norrath's gameplay of hacking and slashing is extremely fun, refined, and even addictive. Much like Diablo II, advancing your character can quickly become a top priority since there's so much to do after the initial game has been beaten. With 50 levels to obtain, five playable classes, thousands upon thousands of different items to collect, randomly made dungeons, online play' well, let's just say that Champions of Norrath has a ton of replay value.
Champions of Norrath is one of the first PS2 games to utilize a double-layered disc to pack more detail into the visuals and it definitely shows in the fantastic texture work, the smooth animation, and the nice lighting effects. Unfortunately, the framerates will tend to stutter and clipping issues will pop up every now and then, but neither is so bad that they interfere with the gameplay. Audio-wise, Champions of Norrath holds up well, though the voice acting will often lag behind the action.
After playing through and reviewing Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II just last week, I thought I was all dungeon hacked out for a while. A guy can only take so many health potions before they start getting to your head, right? Boy, was I wrong because Champions of Norrath glued me to my couch for hours on end with its refined take on the genre. It certainly hasn't revolutionized the genre, but it's pushing the genre in the direction it should be going and in the end, that's almost as good.