|Submitted by Micah McQueary |
(Mar 24, 2005)
Champions of Norrath was a smash hit for me. Replayability reigned heavily, and the real thrill for me was the ability to level up and set my character rolling along on the ol' "do this for me" quest. I was happy. Then I caught wind of Norrath II, and I was yet again ecstatic to go to the nearest blockbuster. What really caught me the most was the fact that you could take your save character from the last game (doesn't matter if you beat it) and put it into the Norrath II game AND get extra weapons and items. Now, this was rich. I had to get it, and I did.
As I turned on the Sony console, my heart raced, my blood bubbled with exitement and the sweet-tooth setting in my entertainment lobe lit up. The menu came up and, like the last game, had a beautiful setting full of lush jungle trees and ancient ruins. Importing my character was a cinch; as I saw a picture of my most esteemed Shadow Knight, Lvl. 21, appear on the screen. I set the difficulty to "Courageous", and the loading screen appeared for a few seconds. It felt like minutes as I stood gazing impatiently like a lion hidden in the grass, waiting for the gazzelle to make their move. The wait was over, and there I was on one of the planes high in the sky where I had left off in my last game. Firiona Vie stood awaiting me, yet something was amiss.
Was it the environment? No... It was as graphically sweet as the last game. I pressed start, and found one tragedy: No character import. My jaw slacked open in horror as I quietly tore the screen apart with my eyes in search for the character import option. None was found. I almost wept, but it was a blow I could sustain. Sure, there would be no adding my brother to help me with a fight or two, nor the ability to double items to sell or to keep, but I was okay as long as the game was good. I decided to see what they meant by "extra weapons" and such. Opening my inventory, I looked for something new. Then, it hit me. When they said "extra" they meant "something you already have". Oh, har de har de har. Forget it, I can buy something better than anything they would have given me anyways. I proudly stood up to talk to Firiona Vie, expecting her to plead for more help. What I heard caught me 1. completley by suprise and 2. by the throat. "That's not Firiona Vie!!!" I proclaimed in utter frustration. In fact, it was not. It sounded more like a bad female impersonation of James T. Kirk. I felt decieved. What happened to the good voice acting? Was this the only person I'd meet that sounded like soap-opera version of a toothpaste commercial? Like a reinacted version of "Butterflies: Attack!"?
Yet, my mind did not faulter in hope. I went on, and in the end she told me my first mission was to go down to the plain of war and help defeat the evil infestation there. With pride, I marched down to the plane of war using the newly installed "plane transport system" (an addition not too different from using a teleporter) and began smiting the usual smite I smote last time. It wasn't too difficult, smiting the small dogs that immediatley greeted me with a shapr-toothy smile. It was the big ones that killed me instantly. This upset me a tad, even after I summoned my trusty skeleton. However, I went along, hoping for some redeeming quality. This is where I found the new spells. "Aaah..." I thought, "Here is at least something I can praise about". I went on and bumped into another character. As before, this actor sounded like a missing audition tape for "Lizzy Macguire", but I carried on happily when she presented me the choice to be good or bad. In the end, though, did it really matter? I'm still going to hack and slash, and it's not like KOTOR, so the only good thing about being a goody-goody or a pain in Firiona's neck is replayability.
Right about here I began to sag. I continuously hacked and I slashed my way through hordes of enemys. This at least was entertaining for me. However, I had previously chosen to be a baddy (It's what my shadow knight was meant to be)and took the red road to meet one of the head-honchos of the enemy. After three minutes, I was stuck. When I say stuck, I don't mean baffled, I mean "I tried my freaking head off to get past it". Though I was high Lvl., (by now, Lvl. 25) I could not seem to enter the arena I was supposed to enter and defeat those giant knights. I went back and tried a lower setting. "Adventurous". Great... Way too easy to the point where it's no longer fun. Hey, that's okay, I'll just get a lesser leveled character from Norrath I and put him in. This time, I chose to be good. I got far, but the bosses were still ridiculously harder than normal, and all the gruntlings were as easy as cheese. All the voice actors were ridiculously silly and, like I said, were apparently hoping to make little kiddies laugh and clap.
Let me get this straight, folks, I liked Norrath I. Voice acting was superb, and Norrath actually had missions worthy of my doing. Sure, in the last one I had to retrieve some kittens, but I only had to do that ONCE! These missions have no meaning. Another thing I relished in the last game was that there could be different realms where you could buy things and teleport back to. In this recent installment, it's the same exact spot. Annoying, eh? The "Arena" mini-game isn't fun. I'm sorry, it's not. You don't get anything out of it, and you can't save it even if you wanted to. Sure, I could challenge my nearby friends to fight me, but that's where the fun really seems to descend. There's nothing else for me in this game, and I'd rather stay with the first game.
By the way, beside it being difficult to say "conch shell" really fast without saying difficult, the actual pronunctiation is "Konk". Man, they screw up in almost every way.
Graphics- They were well done, like the last one. I especially love water- 4.
Voice Acting- read above for more- 0.
Replayability- I'd rather not play it again- 3.
Plot- Like the fact that they include two new characters to it, but otherwise it's the same-old same-old- 4.
All in all I'd say if these little things didn't bug you as much as they did to me, you might like it. I have to admit that I do like the new weapons and items that they have as well as the new spells. But too much was in the way to be able to finish the game and see the goodness in it all.