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Champions: Return to Arms: Champions' Return

After redefining hack-and-slash RPGs, developer Snowblind Studios is ready to unleash its latest release, Champions: Return to Arms, the sequel to Champions of Norrath. So what can players expect from a game that already did just about everything right?

Anyone who has played either Champions of Norrath or Dark Alliance should already be familiar with Return to Arms? format. You take on the persona of one of a hand full of race/class combinations and jump headlong into the fray as you take on legions of monsters. Along the way, you?ll learn new abilities and collect gold and other trophies.

All of the original races/classes from the original are back and receive a few new upgrades as well. For example, Warriors have access to Strong Stance which prevents them from getting knocked down. As an added bonus, saved characters from the original game can be imported into Return to Arms. To account for this influx of high-powered characters, the max level ceiling is raised to 80 and offers two new difficulty levels to compliment higher-level characters.

Champions: Return to Arms is also adding two new races. The Vah Shir Berserker, a race of cat people, adds another warrior class to the game. The Berserker will be able to take and give loads of punishment, making it one of the more powerful melee classes in the game. The Iksar Shaman adds another spellcaster to the game. In addition to being able to summon swarms of insects and bring all kinds of disease, the Iksar has a racial ability that allows it to slowly regenerate health (in keeping with their lizard ancestry).

In an attempt to keep the game from becoming too repetitive, Snowblind is also including the option to skip around previously defeated realms. After defeating a realm, players can also unlock bonus rounds. Within each realm will be a series of challenges players can partake in. Completing these challenges will unlock bonuses. Considering how addictive the first game was, added replay can only mean good things (or bad, depending on how you view it).

Graphically, Return to Arms looks just as good as Champions of Norrath. Most improvements will come in the form of details. Characters look just a little better, as do the game?s environments. Other spell effects have been added. These include things like more noticeable battle damage to characters and ?prettier? battle effects.

Overall, Champions: Return to Arms is looking even better and more addicting than its predecessor. If you enjoyed the first, run out and pre-order as soon as you can. For those who were left with a bad taste in their mouth after the first, the marked improvements should make this one to keep an eye on.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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