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Monday, January 22, 2007

Back In Norrath Again

To think it's been almost two years since I stepped into Champions of Norrath. The Girl and I considered a revisit when we played through both Marvel Alliance and Justice League ... well, multiple times. If we're going to replay something, might as well go for something with a little meat on the bones.

Champions Of Norrath is one of the best dungeon crawlers ever put down on any platform. You really have to look to Diablo for games which top it (particularly in the storytelling section). Graphically it pushes the PS2 to the limit. There is a decent variety to character creation and being able to mod weapons with gems allows for a wonderful array of items. It's long and deep with a great couch co-op feel for the genre.

The nuisances still remain. When I say "pushed to the limit", I mean it. The Girl lost a twin to her Ice Flame sword because the game got caught up on some tiling and refused to continue to load. We had saved it right before the big boss fight - but since we hadn't hit the actual load screen where most of the lockups occured - I hadn't thought to save it again. Plus, you'll spend at least a quarter of your time just on item management - more if you insist on picking up and selling every little thing.

Still, the game is a triumph - a point proven that even after all this time it's quite addictive to jump back into the fight again. We're going to go straight through to the sequel this time around.

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Anonymous said...

A few fun links for you.

The cg review of Champs o' Norrath.

Some background on the disc problems.

I did not enjoy the game enough to drop cash on the sequel. Too bad, really.

Josh said...

Well - I'd disagree with two main points on the review. I think the gameplay of BG:DA is solid enough that minor refinements are probably for the wiser. I think that we can pick the game up, years later, and jump back into it is really a testament to the stength of the gameplay.

Then again, I clearly have a soft spot for this genre. I mean - I finished the Fallout: BOS game out of this insanity.

Also, I'm not sure it can accused of license abuse when Everquest is such an empty license to begin with - you might as well call it "Generic Sony Fantasy World". Anything they did with it was value add. I think it was mostly a matter of "this is our contracted game with SOE" was a sucky subtitle.

On the story side of things, I completely agree. Again, though, I've gotten jaded to the storylines of this genre. I'm not sure it was any better or worse than BG:DA or JLH - but since we have a tendency to skip through the speaking parts...

The technical issues, though, were atrocious. I don't think SOE got flogged enough for it. And considering my track record with SOE - I think they might be to blame. They don't understand even the simplest of quality assurance efforts and have no problem sending beta material out into boxes. PlanetSide is still one of the worst experiences I've ever had gaming and the only time I've ever asked for my money back.

IIRC, Return To Arms wasn't nearly as buggy - but it doesn't anything to the gameplay (some decent UI tweaks, though). So if you didn't get hooked on the first one, the second one would definately be a waste.