Publisher Ubisoft's EverQuest outings are a big deal to the role-playing genre's hardcore, and when Online Adventures arrived on PS2 the series became a whole lot bigger. Now that trend is set to continue as Ubisoft unleashes its second online adventure for PS2, Champions of Norrath.
Though faithful to its EverQuest brothers and sisters, Champions of Norrath places a greater emphasis on action-based gaming that's not too dissimilar to Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, and that's because both are developed by Snowblind. Champions of Norrath is the third game to use Snowblind's acclaimed engine, and is far better than both Dark Alliance offerings. The game is visually outstanding, and various elements have been tweaked for the ultimate performance.
Primarily, Champions of Norrath serves as an excuse for a simple hack 'n' slash collect-a-thon, but that's no bad thing. The solo game sees players defeating one ugly goblin to get to the next by casting a series of spells and unleashing brutal attacks. The dead often leave behind spoils too, which in turn can be used to enhance your player.
Online gaming is fundamentally the same, though teaming up with other players makes the adventure so much more interactive. Up to four members can roam the realms of Norrath in a single team, combining their efforts and reaping the rewards along the way. Battles are virtually unlimited, and character customisation is so free that players can spend literally hundreds of hours perfecting their online adventures.
The solo game is great, but quite simply, the online game is far better. Whichever you prefer, enjoy.
Champions of Norrath took a fun thing with Dark Alliance, reworked and polished it until it shined even more than before. The story is forgettable, but the action takes steps away from the button-mashing of other dungeon crawlers and brings more strategy into the genre. With the different strategies required for many of the enemies, and the huge amount of spells and items collect, the game constantly changes over time.
The real treat is the ability to play the game any way you want to and to be able to play with three other people off or online.