Champions of Norrath is one of the more enjoyable and addictive games I have played in years.

User Rating: 9 | Champions of Norrath PS2
Let me start this off with this preface: I’m a huge fan of the action-adventure games, especially the BG: Dark Alliance series. So naturally I am inclined to be a fan of these sorts of games, however I do realize that not all of these games are pure gold. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel comes straight to mind here. But this is most definitely one of the best games in this genre, to say nothing of how great a multiplayer game it is altogether. I’m not a big fan of Everquest, but Ill gladly get suckered into Norrath as many times as they make Champions games. The storyline of Champions of Norrath is your usual derivative fantasy drek. It isn’t going to knock your socks off, but that’s not really the point of these games. We play these for some serious hack and slash action and the storyline in these games is just your excuse to run all over the multi-verse killing bad guys. You, and your friends, are going to step into the shoes of one of a variety of heroes and work to save the realms from the evil force that has its sights set on destroying them. To do this, you are going to control one of a variety of heroes: Barbarian, the typical brute who powers his special attacks by killing enemies, the Ranger, a specialist with the bow, the Priest, who uses his holy magics and blunt weapons to cleanse evil from this world, the Wizard, a student of the arcane who uses elemental magics to destroy his foes and the Shadowknight, a warrior mage who uses disease and other foul magics to combat those who cross his path. After picking your character you get a variety of customization options, ranging from their name, sex, skin color, hair type and hair color. Since most people who play these sorts of games absolutely love character customization, this game gives you control over every aspect of your appearance and equipment. Whatever piece of armor or weapon you equip will show up on your character when you are moving around the world. I know plenty of people who have sought out matching suits of armor or pieces of armor they thought looked cool, taking appearance over practicality and what was better. That’s some dedication right there. You can also place a variety of enhancement items in your equipment adding to your stats, elemental resistances to damage or even bolstering your basic ability to do damage by adding cold, fire or lightening to your weapon which adds extra effects. Obviously, this game doesn’t really focus on the graphics, but that shouldn’t be taken to mean that this is ignored. There are a lot of minor graphical details, notably the armor and weapon graphics mentioned above, but even in the world itself. There are plenty of things that you will notice about the levels you’re moving through, such as fish swimming through the water, when you are not fighting off hordes of enemies that make you appreciate the attention to detail put into this game. Even something as small as seeing your arrows sticking out of a tough enemy as you pluck him full of them, is an incredibly fun graphical touch. The audio in this game is a mixed bag though. There is some great music in this game, much of it having a sweeping orchestral feel. I love the soundtrack to this game, even going so far as to download it to my computer from the official website. But the dialogue is so trite and boring, as is the voice acting, that I would really rather just skip through the cutscenes to spare myself having to hear it ever again. This does have a negative impact on the storytelling for this game, but overall, its still passable enough that it gets the job done… just not very well. I really can’t imagine not liking this game if you are a fan of action RPG type games. The variety of abilities, weapons and armors to be had for your character lets each playthrough be unique enough that this is a wet dream for dorks like myself, who love number crunching and character customization. There are some minor problems with this game, but they are so far overshadowed by the incredibly good that it is easy to ignore the bad. This is a phenomenal game and I highly recommend it. Pros: Fun multiplayer which can go online, ability to customize your weaponry and a variety of cool abilities for each character.

Cons: The bosses are a bit frustrating to fight especially in single player, the ranged weapons feel ridiculously weak compared to melee and the mage is ridiculously weak, which is odd for a game of this type.

Score: 9

Recommendation: If you are a fan of action-adventure games, then Champions is a definite must own.