Father’s Day Game – Champions of Norrath (PS2)

I continue to enjoy the “Father’s Day Game” as my oldest son is fond of calling Champions of Norrath; yes – it was one of my father’s day presents last June. I have yet to finish this game, and I have not played online yet, but it continues to suck me in each time I play. This game definitely causes a case of “just 5 more minutes.”

So why does this game have lasting power? Fun factor and serious replay value; true hallmarks of a worthwhile game.

First, it is hack-and-slash action at its finest! If you just want to power your way through a game with little regard to anything other than “mash, slash, and bash” this one is for you. The cool thing is that the game plays completely differently depending on your character of choice. Do you want to plow through the game with brute force, or would you rather use a vast array of spells? Either way the game is equally fun.

Second, the graphics are exceptionally solid. Snowblind Studios is one of my favorite development shops – they also developed Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, which was the previous bar for hack-and-slash action on the PS2. The graphics in Champions of Norrath are about as good as it gets; regardless of the effects, be it water, fire, spells, arrows sticking to attacking creatures, pools of blood (option for those with small children), level design, or pretty much anything else. Seriously, even your most jaded graphics whore will be impressed.

Third, the intangibles are impressive. The flexible “level-up” system provides some strategy and makes the game a little more interesting than your normal flavor of hack-and-slash games. You get to allocate points to various attributes (strength, dexterity, intelligence, and stamina) and you get to allocate points to various skills (power up your slash attacks, shoot ice/freeze arrows, cast disease attacks, and so on). On top of all this, you also get to power up weapons for a truly creative system that provides a few reasons to plan out your path through the game.

Fourth, the game is a joy to play in co-op mode; my son and I are having a blast playing through this one together. Needless to say, this game has me convinced that I may actually be missing something by not playing online. That is a big omission for this gamer.

Final words – Champions of Norrath has what it takes; the game has an extremely high fun factor, and the reply value is easily worth the price of admission [currently $19.99 new at most major retailers]. Check out Game Rankings for more Champions of Norrath information.

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