Preview: Champions: Return to Arms (PS2) Hands-On Impressions

Publisher: Sony Online / Developer: Snowblind Studios / Genre: RPG / Release Date: 02-07-05

Continuing the story line from Champions of Norrath, Champions: Return to Arms offers a bevy of features and of smutty women. I haven’t played Everquest, but I suppose this level of sleazitude is common. That’s right, there is a veritable bounty of bosoms, a slew of skanks, a waffling of whizores.

Join the side of good, and mini-skirts, with Firiona Vie, a ditzy blonde who speaks of honor and triumph over evil. Or change your mind and join the side of evil, and long hair in lieu of tops, with Natasla, a sleazy minion of the dark lord- our friend and patriarch.

Improving on Norrath, Return to Arms runs quite smoothly even with many enemies on the screen. The visuals are clear and aesthetically pleasing with cinematic scenes flowing nicely into battle. For those of you who have played FF:CC, think of the overview of the dungeon before play begins. The Van Shir is one of two new races, the other is a lizard race, the Iksar.. Players of the original can port their characters over into Return of Arms if they don’t feel like embracing the scaly goodness. Also, multiplayer LAN and hookups to are possible.

The demo shows twelve characters, different races and classes, but only gives the option to play two. On the first play through, the play through de good- was Sra, the Dark Elf Shadow Knight (Ah am so angsty and dark, mah fellow elves reject me, ah am like… OMFGSOGAWTH). The character featured customizable hair and skin color, as well as hair style. Customizable stats too with convenient explanations for those not entirely familiar with RPG elements. The game is fairly easy to settle into that way.

The second play through was Aiin, the Vah Shir Beserker- a catman with styling options of orange or blue tiger, panther, and cheetah. The Berserker specializes in handaxes, throwing axes, and throwing knives and blows on defense. Heh. Essentially things went the same as with Sra, only, berserkers suck and he took Natasla’s advice to dump the “pompous wench” Firiona and get down with evil. Aiin was given a shard, a part of Innoruuk from the first game I assume- so you can either leave the guy apart, or put him back together again (and all the prince of hate’s horses and all prince of hate’s men?).

The game boasts all new and improved environments, more than 50 levels, new enemies, new items, and a medal system for unlocking game modes… which are secret, and yet mentioned on the website. Very sneaky Sony!! The medal runs will be additional challenges to get extra benefits, the aforementioned secrets, points for character improvement, and epic items. While I’m sure Return to Arms will be a fine game on its own, it seems that a play through of Champions of Norrath while you are waiting for the sequel to come out wouldn’t be such a bad idear.

The game is due for release in February `05 from Snowblind and Sony.

Here are some fun quotes from playing through with my roomie:

“Dood. Is her hair her shirt?”
“Eeeep. I think so.”
“Geez, I hope it’s not breezy on the Plane of War.”

“Unspeakable new power. … Aren’t we speaking of it now?”
“Unspeakable power is the best power of all.”

“Oh my f*cking god. She’s wearing a string bikini under her armor.”

“AAAH! He’s wearing a speedo!”

“Hehehe, you can wear quilty puffy pants!”