Champions of Norrath
|Champions of Norrath: Realms of EverQuest|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Online Entertainment|
|Designer(s)||Paul Knutzen, Chris Avellone|
|Engine||Dark Alliance Engine|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game, hack and slash|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer (1–4)|
Champions of Norrath: Realms of EverQuest is an online-capable action role-playing game for the PlayStation 2, set in the EverQuest universe. It is playable with one single player or cooperative for up to four players. However, with a Network Adapter, players can take the game online with others and kill others or join to form groups of adventurers. The game uses a re-worked and expanded Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance game engine. A sequel was created called Champions: Return to Arms which was released in February 2005.
Champions of Norrath features a traditional role-playing video game storyline, in which the player acts as a hero who must save the world via a series of quests and battles. Divided into five acts, the game begins with a quest to assist the elves in their war against the orcs, who have formed an alliance with goblins (which is strange to the citizens of Norrath). However in later acts, the player must eventually travel to the underworld and beyond thanks to the antics created by the strange orc leader and his contacts. The game takes place in the focal world of the EverQuest universe known as Norrath, prior to the events of the first EverQuest online RPG, which was itself prior to "The Shattering" of the moon Luclin. The game applies many elements of the EverQuest universe. There are three main antagonists in the storyline: Pelys, leader of the orcs, Vanarhost, a vampire in the Underworld who also narrates the entire game and Innoruuk, the God of Hatred.
The gameplay is a traditional hack and slash with several additional elements. During the opening sequence, the player selects a race, appearance, and skills. From there, the game continues to follow classic RPG standards, as the player fights monsters, explores forests, towns, godly domains and dungeons, obtains gold to purchase weapons, and so on. As the player gains experience, he or she will level up and increase character statistics and abilities.
All characters have a series of spells and skills, which can be enhanced via the Ability Tree. The Ability Tree allows the player flexibility in choosing skills, chiefly because points may be invested in several choices at once. These abilities can increase damage, add new spells, etc. These choices are limited by several factors, including the character's level, the skill's prerequisites, and the total amount of ability points in the character's reserve. The points cannot be regained once used.
Equipment is often dropped by enemies, though there is a shop to buy items. Sometimes, the items dropped by enemies are much better than anything for sale in the shop. Each item has a weight and each character has a weight limit (which is increased by strength). Together, this allows for a limited amount of equipment to be carried at any given time. However, items known as "Gate Scrolls" allow players to warp back to the nearest shop and sell excess inventory. Moreover, the armor and weapons are customizable through rare items, which allows players to fuse a weapon with statistical bonuses, elemental attack, and increased weapon attack speed.
Dungeons in the game cover many forms of terrain. As with most RPGs, many dungeons in Champions of Norrath feature a boss or large group of enemies that must be defeated to advance or obtain a special item. Traps and secret passages are also common in dungeons (for instance, destructible walls). Furthermore, the game offers two advanced bonus dungeon levels upon completion of the game.
The camera allows for 360 degree rotation and three levels of zoom. It is possible to import and export characters, which allows the player to save or load a character anywhere in the game while keeping the statistics and items of that character. This is important for scenarios which require a transfer of characters, such as online play, multiplayer games, and the sequel, Champions: Return to Arms.
Savepoints and portals play a key role in the gameplay. First, savepoints also double as checkpoints, which may be accessed if a character dies. The Portals are activated when the player walks near the Portal. They allow the player to jump to key locations in each region.
Players may import their character(s) for online play, which can be accessed from a save point. This mode of play allows for players to join parties or quests. Players can join anywhere in the game, despite completion in the one player mode. Up to four players can join in the same game. It is a cooperative type multiplayer game that disables damage a player can inflict upon a fellow player.
There are five types of playable characters that can be used throughout the game. Each come in male and female varieties, which have no impact on gameplay other than appearance. This choice cannot be changed after the character is made.
Barbarian Warriors have the highest initial health and attack rating in the game, and are able to use any weapon they desire, save class exclusive weapons. They are primarily tank characters that can endure superior amounts of damage. Barbarians have virtually no magic based attacks, but they excel at melee combat, specializing in weapons and armor. Unfortunately, barbarians do not recover mana automatically – they need to slay enemies to recover mana. This can limit the use of their various skills. Their skills augment their mastery of weapons, buffer attributes, and deal massive close range damage.
Wood Elf Rangers
The ranger class is primarily a ranged fighter. They have a wide variety of ranged spells and can use bows more effectively compared to other classes. Though they are competent melee fighters, they cannot use two-handed weapons and lose the advantage of their superior bow abilities when forced to fight close ranged. The ranger's abilities allow him to imbue his arrows with various magics. The Ranger eventually gains the ability to dual-wield single handed weapons such as swords, axes or maces.
High Elf Clerics
A competent melee class, the Cleric is efficient in dealing damage with holy spells and blunt weapons. Clerics have strong healing abilities and can cause extreme damage to the undead. They also possess skills that allow them to convert their enemies. Clerics are restricted from using sharp weapons such as swords, axes, etc. A cleric must balance melee with long ranged spells.
A primarily magical class with control over the elements, they exhibit intellectual prowess over the other classes. They cannot use shields, are limited to one-handed blunt weapons, and have a limited selection of armor, and are therefore poor melee fighters. The wizard's spells freeze, burn, and shock their enemies from a distance. Wizards must maintain a very large supply of mana potions to be effective fighters.
Dark Elf Shadowknights
Dark elves are a versatile magic-melee class. They can use every weapon type, except for some class exclusive rare weapons. Shadowknights use dark magic to spread disease through groups of enemies. Their spells weaken and maim large groups, but cost a greater percentage of mana. Later, they gain spells that allow them to summon undead warriors to assist them. Shadowknights do not falter or excel in any particular area, and can be used many different ways.
Champions of Norrath was given very positive reviews, scoring an 85.24% on Gamerankings.
GameSpot gave the game an 8.5/10. They praised both the gameplay and graphics, especially the particle and water effects. They pointed out several bugs and framerate issues, along with the cheesiness of the voice acting.