Champions: Return to Arms
is virtually identical to the last game -- which is ultimately its greatest flaw. Very little has been added, lending it a stale feeling to the game right from the start. The action is still enjoyable, but seems lacking.
Your adventure begins by selecting one of a handful of classes, each with its own unique differences. All of the classes from the previous game make a return and are joined by two new classes: the Iksar Shaman and Vah Shir Berserker. Both are welcome additions, but add very little to the game. The shaman is arguably the better of the two, especially due to its healing ability and magic. The Berserker is essentially a warrior with a ranged option and an armor deficiency. Most of the class’ bonuses only kick in when its health is low, which is not a place you ever want to be for too long. As an added bonus, players can import their characters from the first game into Return to Arms, allowing you to continue their adventures and get them to the newly raised level cap of 80. New abilities have also been added for these classes.
A large part of the game is spent roaming randomly generated dungeons while killing everything in your path. When the going gets tough, you have your trusty vials of health and mana potions to keep you going for a little longer. This appears to be the core focus of the game since story rarely pops in. The original’s story wasn’t exactly The Lord of the Rings, but it still managed to put together a decent plot. Champions: Return to Arms instead boils down to a series of random missions that somehow are supposed to end up with you saving the world. Soon after your quest begins you’re given the choice of either sticking with the good guys or joining the forces of evil. All this means is that you’ll take alternate paths in certain areas, but in the end, you’re still gunning for the same goal either way.
Though a majority of the game feels the same, additions have been added to both address problems and give the game some replay value. Medal rounds are mini-games that can be played after completing levels. Challenges are usually pretty tough, but the rewards aren’t really worth it until you’re further along in the game. Still, they offer something else to do and extend the replay.
Multiplayer is the other big focus in Champions: Return to Arms. The previous game’s online mode was a blast to play and turned out to be the game’s saving grace. However, it also fell under heavy criticism for laggy play and less-than-friendly interface. All of the game’s past mistakes have been fixed, and the experience is still the best aspect of the game.