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Champions Return to Arms - PlayStation 2

by Sony
PlayStation2
Teen
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews) 77 / 100

Price: $99.99
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  • The original Champions of Norrath game is not needed to play Champions - Return to Arms
  • Seven fully customizable Playable Characters. Select from Barbarian Warrior, Wood Elf Ranger, Dark Elf Shadowknight, High Elf Cleric, Erudite Wizard, and two new race/class combinations - the Vah Shir Berserker and Iksar Shaman.
  • New skills, abilities, weapons and armor for every character type
  • More than 10,000 items and the ability to create your own item
  • Dynamic story with alternate good and evil paths featuring many of your favorite characters from the original game.

Frequently Bought Together

Champions Return to Arms - PlayStation 2 + Champions of Norrath - PlayStation 2 + Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance
Price for all three: $237.10

These items are shipped from and sold by different sellers.

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Product Details

  • Shipping: This item is also available for shipping to select countries outside the U.S.
  • ASIN: B0007CGBDG
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5 x 0.8 inches ; 4.8 ounces
  • Media: Video Game
  • Release Date: June 15, 2006
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,824 in Video Games (See Top 100 in Video Games)
  • Discontinued by manufacturer: Yes

Product Description

Review

If you're not familiar with Snowblind Studios' delightful game engine (first seen in Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance), you are missing out. It has received much critical acclaim, and for good reason – this core technology has made some of the best action/RPGs of the last several years. While other developers have licensed this engine for use in their own games, Snowblind has taken them all to school on how to squeeze the most juice out of it. Return to Arms is a visually stunning game in every way, and a lot of my issues with the first Champions of Norrath have been addressed. It's a pity that there isn't really anything in RtA that moves the genre forward or breaks from convention in any way.

All of the standard action/RPG elements are present and accounted for, and for the most part are done with a level of polish and flair rarely seen. Leveling up each character can be done in a nigh-infinite number of ways, since each one has a multitude of skills to develop or ignore at your choice. Bosses drop fatty loot to collect and power up your avatar with, and completing challenges (which become unlocked after finishing a stage) unlocks new online maps as well as hooking you up with bonus stat and skill points. These challenge rounds are easily the most interesting new element of RtA, with nonstandard objectives or restrictions that make you use your gaming skills or solve puzzles to emerge triumphant.

Every single change from the original Champions of Norrath is a positive one, as far as I can tell. The removal of random maps sounds like a bummer, but the result is that each level is designed much more tightly and flows better than before. Skills have been rebalanced and seem to be a bit more even, and the two new classes offer unique and fun styles of play. And, as has been mentioned, the latest revision of the Snowblind engine is amazing. Textures give a startling illusion of depth to surfaces, lighting changes give each area a different feel, and the excellent particle effects really bring the flashy spell animations to life. Plus, even though I've been seeing it for the last few years, I still have to stop and marvel at the water this engine can render out.

The icing on this cake of fantasy hack n' slash goodness is the amount of content available. Between the four difficulty modes (which are designed like Diablo II's, where you can start the next mode with your powered-up hero after clearing the one before), co-op and competitive online multiplayer, and the seven playable classes, there is an awful lot of game here to adventure through. Whether or not you'll be sick of cleaving orc heads before you finish it is another matter entirely, but rest assured that this is no weaksauce 10-hour quest with little replay value.

All of this high-heaped praise begs the question of why isn't RtA the must-have fantasy epic of 2005. The answer to that is simple: Though everything is very well-done, it's difficult to shake the feeling that I've been playing this same game since Diablo came out on PC in 1997. The core concept of bashing skulls and gaining levels and loot is still strong as can be, and I had a lot of fun with RtA, but the foreshadowings of a Dynasty Warriors-like rut are clearly visible. It's rare to see a sequel that does this little to shake up the gameplay formula of the original, but with that being said, anyone who enjoyed the first Champions title or either of the Dark Alliance games will find a lot to love here.



Concept:
Tighten up, refine, and expand everything that you know about console dungeon crawlers

Graphics:
Nobody can rock the Snowblind engine like Snowblind – gorgeous visuals abound

Sound:
Easily the low point. The only thing worth noting is the delightful thumping noise maces make as they bash heads

Playability:
The new evade move makes all the difference in nasty boss fights

Entertainment:
What's not to like about crushing waves of enemies and leveling up to godlike status?

Replay:
Moderately High

Rated: 8 out of 10
Editor: Adam Biessener
Issue: March 2005

2nd Opinion:
I can't help it. I just love experience grinders. Throw in co-op play, some solid graphics, online play for extra value, and, quite frankly, I'm sold. I loved every moment I put into this game. That's not to say it doesn't have its share of problems. First of all, the story is pretty much non-existent. Be good or be evil, fight through some planes of power…blah, blah, blah…get me to my next cool weapon or skill. That's about all I care about. And to this end, Return to Arms delivers. The boss battles are epic, the game is longer than most, and it's certainly worth multiple play-throughs just to try out the other classes. It's not gnome rocket science, but it sure is fun.

Rated: 8 out of 10
Editor: Andy McNamara


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Product Description

Champions: Return to Arms brings all the hack-and-slash gameplay from Champions of Norrath back to the PlayStation 2. This sequel offers unlimited battles, dangerous missions, and the ability to import characters from the original game. Experience more than 50 levels solo or with three other players, either offline or online. The more medals you earn, the more secret gameplay modes you unlock. Return to Arms offers a host of new monsters, races, items, and artifacts to keep you busy.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but not exceptional July 5, 2005
By CreepyT
Fun: 4.0 out of 5 stars   
I've been enjoying good old hack-and-slash computer and video games since the days of the original Diablo. Therefore, when I read the reviews of Champions: Return to Arms, and saw that previous reviewers had noted on the redundancy of this game, I figured that after a while, any hack-and-slash saga could get old. There's only so much killing and looting one can do before the plot gets boring. Therefore, I went out and bought the game anyway under the impression that Return to Arms would at least elaborate on the plot in Champions of Norrath. I was wrong.

This game is extremely redundant. Aside from the two new player classes, the player characters are all the same. Exactly the same. No elaboration from the previous game whatsoever. I suppose this makes it easier to import your characters from Champions of Norrath, but it would have been nice to see some kind of elaboration in this department. Furthermore, many of the "bad guys" you fight are the same as in the previous game. Many of the characters you met in Champions of Norrath return. For example, Babik Nurn makes an appearance. Many of the locales are the same. You will again visit the gothic vampire castle, as well as the Pit of Ill Omen. Some of the quests are even familiar. Once again, the mermaid has lost her conch shell and would like you to find it for her. After you do this, you again are granted the ability to breathe underwater so you can fight some undead pirate skeletons. What does all of this add up to? The feeling that you just paid a bunch of money to play the Champions of Norrath all over again.

In addition, as with Champions of Norrath, the game seems to have several bugs.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Champions of Norrath competes with itself March 28, 2006
Fun: 3.0 out of 5 stars   
If you've played any of the Baldur's Gate series (I've beaten them all) or the previous installment of the EverQuest game for PS2, then you're now familiar with Snowblind Studios' game engine. So familiar, in fact, that you probably can't tell you're playing a different game.

We had already beaten Champions of Norrath and, hungry to use all the neat new powers and weapons we gained in the first game, purchased its sequel, Call to Arms. This time I played Quintus, a cleric, while my wife played Ilmare, an archer. We were back at it again, hacking and slashing our way to fame and fortune. But it all seemed so familiar...

That's because this is the same friggin' game! I'm not talking "inspired by the original Champions of Norrath." I don't mean, "it looks similar." I mean: the maps are the same, the dialogue is the same, the NPCs are the same. Yes, the same mermaid wants you to find her conch. And she grants the same ability to breathe underwater. Where you once again get to fight underwater pirates.

All these boards have been cleverly reshuffled to be "planes." So instead of any actual cohesive plot, it's all about traveling planes...the Plane of Islands. The Plane of Violence. The Plane of Why Did I Buy This Game Again?

Don't get me wrong; playing through Call to Arms gave us a reason to use our higher-level characters from the first game. The problem is that any dungeon hack worth his sword is a thorough sweep-and-loot kind of adventurer, which means he can pick a level clean. We get all the exp and cash and we don't stop until it's so cleaned out you can eat your iron rations off of the floor.

What that means is that our characters leveled. A lot.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let's set the record straight. February 24, 2006
Fun: 4.0 out of 5 stars   
I just wanted to address a few of the mistaken claims made by other reviewers. There ARE changes in the character classes from the first champions game - I imported an old wizard of mine and there were new abilities for him in the skill tree. There IS a slight glitch that makes the inventory screen pulse a little but I haven't even found it to be a minor irritation, much less a problem. MUCH of the content for this game was carried over from the first - many of the environments are identical or slight variations on the first game's and many of the monsters are the same though there are quite a few new additions as well. For me this isn't a problem as Champions of Norrath and the Baldur's Gate games are some of my favorites on the PS2 and I can enjoy repeatedly what they offer.

One of the new additions to this game is that you can choose to go a "good" or an "evil" route (so far I've only done the good so I don't know how much difference in content there is between the 2). There are also medallion rounds where, if you overcome a challenge (some of which are quite difficult) you gain access to a extra level. Most of the extra levels are like the main game but some offer other options. One, for instance, allows you to bet on combatants in an arena.

Overall, I would have to say that I've very much enjoyed this game though it's true that it's heavily derivative of the first Champions.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing sequel to an addictive game September 24, 2005
Fun: 2.0 out of 5 stars   
Champions: Returns To Arms had the advantage of the success of the first game Champions of Norrath using a hugely improved gameplay and mechanism of Baulder's Gate. However, Returns to Arms itself is a very disappointing instalment for the series...if there is going to be another one.

Basic gameplay wise it is very similar to the first game. However, the twick and twist that was put into the sequel completely removed a lot of the fun factors offered by the original title. You can import your old characters from the first one into the new one, but then the abilities you earned from the first one was toned down. For example you will find the same skill now takes up more mana and if it is a summon e.g. the Hammer of Wrath for the Cleric class, it stays around much shorter than before. There are new skills to be learnt but then since they require higher level to unlock, it is a test of patience if you start a new character for the game.

The portal map approach didn't really do much good to the game apart from making some very taxing "side quests" available for players. But some of them are so difficult that you will just find them more like a frustration than fun. Even random enemies in the main story e.g. archers in the last dungeon could kill you with two hits. If this is the way that Snowblind thinks could prolong the game it is a bad move. Also the worst nightware is the inclusion of stealth unnecessarily inside the game. Especially all enemies in the stealth level is one hit kill on you disregard your level. Stealth works in action rpgs like Zelda and Beyond Good and Evil because it goes natural with the game, but in Champions, it looks awkward and at the same time frustrating.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent condition, just as advertised
Published 7 days ago by Matthew Skora
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
loved it
Published 13 days ago by Timothy J. Seaman
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the multiplay function
Love the multiplay function. We play this once a week with two other friends at home on the big screen projector. Read more
Published 1 month ago by jigger
5.0 out of 5 stars Best PS2 Game!
This is by far my favorite PS2 game ever made. It is great and addicting, looting is the funnest part trying to get better gear just like a Diablo. Read more
Published 1 month ago by TheLastofElves
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
best series ever
Published 2 months ago by Ray Hammond
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
Great game for 2 players! Love the two different routes you can take - good or evil!
Published 2 months ago by Casey
5.0 out of 5 stars Great two player cooperative mode
Great two player cooperative mode. Well built on the original with some strong differences. You can technically choose to be "evil" or "good" in this one, but... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Megan
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I got it earlier then expected. Thank you
Published 2 months ago by LEVI LOCKWOOD
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Game
Used to play this game when I was younger and it's still meeting expectations now. Lots of classes, tons of item drops and just an overall great game. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jim McEwan
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent condition
The disc was in near perfect condition. Likewise with the book and cover. I was pleased and surprised in finding an old PS2 game in such good shape. Read more
Published 5 months ago by steve prine
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