Champions: Return to Arms
|Champions: Return to Arms|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Online Entertainment|
|Engine||Dark Alliance Engine|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, hack and slash|
Champions: Return to Arms features multiple character classes, such as wizard, cleric, ranger, and warrior. The game also features an online mode where a player can join up to three other players from around the world. Gameplay consists of killing monsters and completing quests to earn experience, in a traditional hack-and-slash style. When the character attains enough experience, he or she gains a level.
Races and classes
In addition to the five original classes, the game provides two new choices: the Vah Shir Berserker and Iksar Shaman.
Barbarian warriors have the highest initial health and attack rating in the game, and are able to use any weapon they desire, except for class exclusive weapons. They are primarily tank characters that can endure significant damage. Barbarians have virtually no magic, 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 which can put them in a bind when they need mana for an ability but their health is low. 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. 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 may dual-wield single handed weapons such as swords, axes, or maces. The ranger is given a new ability in the sequel which allows the character to summon their own arrows instead of constantly replenishing a massive quiver.
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 significant 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 and axes. A cleric must balance melee with long ranged spells.
A primarily magical class with control over the elements, wizards exhibit intellectual prowess over the other classes. They cannot use shields and have limited weapon choices, and are therefore poor melee fighters. The wizard's spells freeze, burn, and shock their enemies from a distance. Wizards must maintain a large supply of mana potions to be effective fighters.
Dark Elf shadowknights
Shadowknights are a versatile magic and 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. Shadowknights do not falter or excel in any particular area.
Vah Shir berserkers
The berserker has a unique look, having the appearance of a big cat in accordance with its race. It is similar to the barbarian with respect to its gameplay style, generally able to take a good deal of damage and dish out a similar amount. However, berserkers can still regenerate mana passively. They specialize in throwing axes much like the ranger specializes in bows, having the capability to imbue them elementally and summon them. The berserker excels in melee combat and has only combat-oriented spells aside from those related to throwing axes.
Iksar shamans are lizard-like in appearance and have customizable horns instead of hair. They have some hand-to-hand combat ability, and this can be enhanced by the buff spells which they can cast. These shaman are a good soloing class because their wide range of spells provides them with enhancements to combat as well as pure spellcasting ability for its own sake. They cannot use bows and two-handed swords and may wear all armour.
Arena vs. missions
In Champions Return to Arms the option to use the arena is opened up. The arena has two options, allowing both online and offline play. The arena can be used to test characters against one another and, if online, other players. For most players, the barbarian, Iksar shaman, Vah Shir berserker and even the cleric are good choices for the arena. The Iksar's ability to slow down the enemy and grow in size (increases damage) helps let them stall and then come in for the kill. The cleric has the "Unspoken Word" spell which knocks down all opponents in the area and deals some damage. The Vah Shir berserker has many buffing spells which increase damage and attack speed. However, the most commonly used dueler in the arena is the barbarian because of his area buff ancestral call and the often overlooked slam move. Rangers, wizards, and shadowknights have numerous long ranged attacks that can slow or stun enemies at their disposal.
As the character progresses in the game, he or she levels up by gaining experience points, as in traditional RPGs. When players level up, attribute points and skill points are earned, which are spent in the character's skill tree. This tree charts out all of the character's abilities and powers, which vary from race to race. For some higher level abilities, a lower level ability is required. There is also a certain point maximum based on the character's level, as well as an overall maximum.
The story picks up after Innoruuk, the Prince of Hate has been defeated, his essence shattered into the Shards of Hatred and were strewn across the Planes of Power. Within the game story, players have the choice of serving either the forces of Good by destroying the shards to rid the world of Innoruuk, or the legions of Evil gathering the shards to resurrect the fallen god. The paths of Good and Evil travel to the same locations, with variations in mission objectives.
The Times' reviewer gave the game four stars out of five and said, "The number of times I got ripped apart by wild dogs made me regret ever wanting to be a lizard. Didn’t stop me coming back for more, though." Maxim similarly gave it a score of eight out of ten, saying, "Over 100 hours of game play through 50 levels of sword-swinging, spell-casting combat, thousands of new weapons and equipment, and two new characters (the fighting furry Vah Shir and the lizardman Iksar) will keep you huffing at trucker speed through the wee hours." However, Detroit Free Press gave it two stars out of four, saying that "there's hardly anything new here. The plot is paper-thin, and lacks a driving sense of humor or drama to keep you interested. The game-play is just as basic as it's ever been, and frankly, if you've played any of its predecessors, you've slashed and spellcast just this way a million times before."
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