User Rating: 8.7 | Champions of Norrath PS2
After going through this game just once I think there is plenty to say about Champions of Norrath. First, the game is just great for anyone who has ever played Everquest online. I've played around four years off and on. The gear you can recieve and the names of most bosses, characters and some areas are the same, so it's like taking a stroll down memory lane. Two notable instances are Gornit, the hulking boss on the sandy beaches of The Pit, who was a cyclops that was always camped in the Ocean of Tears for his toes( if I remember correctly) and the other was a Lodizal Shell Shield. Anyone who ever had trouble questing for that damned turtle to get this shield will break up in laughter when it suddenly just drops off some random skeleton. Secondly, The customizable amount of stuff in this game is quite the package for a console game. Rarely do you ever get the chance to choose your own hair, skin and name even! That's something that Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance II can't even deliver for all of you comparing the two. It took me a long while to finally get through to making my character just how I liked it, as such decisions were important when never before was there an option for so many. Choosing your own name was probably the best, because people again who have played E.Q. can make their console character have the same name as their avatar online. It was so great to make a real personal character for a console finally, and actually see my choices while playing. Sound was okay. Sometimes it would cut in and cut out which is noticeable if you are looking for it. The music and effects when they are all there are great. I love the slashing and thwacking sounds of clubs and swords as they hit enemies. Weapons even sound great when they are just wizzing through the air. The music is good enough to keep a person feeling there is a reward at the end of the road but doesn't get your heart pumping as much as some games. The intense "fight" music usually is present with a boss that is about ready to cleave you in two, but it just doesn't have the effect it needed to deliver for outstanding music. Now let's get into gameplay. I chose a ShadowKnight as my character and was pretty happy with my decision. With a character as tough as a knight class, I still had to scheme and think a few times when it came to defeating bosses. Champions certainly will not allow you to just step in and mash the X button along with R2 for health and hope you don't run out of health before the boss does. I will share that Disease Bolt skill is a necessity for slowing down tough bosses. Speaking of skills, for a game that offers so much and has a reputable company standing behind it, I could have definitely seen a few more skills to choose from. All through this game there are plenty of quests and monsters to mash through, but it had a feeling of being a bit too linear for me. I was waiting for the chance to digress and do some questing that had no crucial effect on the storyline. Don't get me wrong, the storyline is really pretty full, but this review is coming from one who did noting but stray from the beaten path in the E.Q. world. Upgrading Weapons, what a great aspect. Of course Badurs Gate II did this too, I would like to praise Champions with the simplicity of their system. Four circles.. if they are all full so is your weapon, if not, find a zombie tongue or a misty globe and tape it to your current toy of destruction. Baldur's Gate II did well, but I found that after playing it got expensive, mathematically annoying and way too involving. The only things I would change about Champions' system is the fact that you cannot undo your work once you have upgraded and I would have really liked to see enhancement items being sold by your neighborly vendors. Bugs, or maybe just shortcomings, surprisingly, were enough to be an annoyance after a while. One run through the game and I noticed that when running sometimes the console could not write in the terrain fast enough and frame rate slows down at times when there really isn't a reason for it. Also, some areas, mostly in the Fourth Act had places that were impossible to pass but did not show that there was any height difference to be a problem for my character to run over. The only other thing I noticed was a problem being able to strike my enemies after I had upgraded my Two Handed Axe with a Misty Globe (lightning striking speed). I started to swing so fast, the blade would go past my enemy and he could sit there and slap me as long as he was right next to me. So, for this I strongly suggest people use caution when upgrading their two-handed weapons with "Misty Globes" (I don't know anbout the smaller, less powerful globes) as their weapon may go right past the target. Overall, this game is pretty dang good. It kept me in trance for hours and when I decide to take up the next stages of difficulty it will probably keep me locked in again. To be able to overcome a god solo is a great feeling. I truly hope that after Sony's first go, they try again and keep them coming because I could really be in heaven if the next god to go down would be Cazic-Thule, God of Fear or Rallos Zek, God of War. Champions of Norrath is a winner and has great potential for more installments, keep it up and thank you for a *Game* to play.