My expectations for Clan of Champions were neither here nor there, I must confess. On one hand I had great faith in NIS Americas ability to produce a great game and yet on the other I was aware that this title was quite different from their previous releases, which worried me slightly. Were I to be brutally honest, the first ten or so minutes of Clan of Champions left me in such boredom that were I not to be writing a review on the title, I would have closed it down with near no hesitation, never to be played again. As time progressed however this title slowly but surely redeemed itself and at some point managed to surpass my prior expectations and quickly became something I could really enjoy and something that I’d no doubt return to again and again throughout the foreseeable future.
Clan of Champions would be best described as an arena based action title in which you fight in a team of three against various enemies throughout a narrative storyline in a quest to become the strongest. The combat is fairly typical of arena based games and operates through use of the three mouse buttons primarily with a few minor exceptions here and there, which all works particularly well, I must say. With three fighting styles (Unarmed, Sword and Shield and dual-wield), a fair selection of spells and a splendid choice in weaponry and armour, this titles combat works particularly well and always encourages players to create their own tactics through a grand mix of items, specials, combos as well as stand alone attacks and the like.
The storyline itself is nothing to write home about and I highly doubt it was ever intended to be as such. With each entry feeling more like a standalone introduction to the battles rather than a coherent story, it’s clear to see that the intention was not to create some grand work of literature but rather to accompany the player between battles and offer some sort of objective to it all; which adds a surprising amount to the additivity of the title. Spanning through multiple stages, each lasting around ten minutes or so, the game is fairly long lasting even if one were to neglect the multiplayer. The difficulty curve, although very slow to start with, picks up a nice gradient in decent enough time and continues it’s increase into some rather difficult andborderline impossible final stages that’ll really test everything you’ve learned thus far.
Although the single player is all very well and has a generally finished feel to it, it’s quite apparent that it alone is not the bulk of what this title has to offer. The multiplayer mode is more or less split in two, the first half offering you a co-op storyline with up to three players that treads the same path as that of the single player and the second of which pits you against your friends in team based battles of three a side. I can safely say that both of these modes work with particular success and although the vs. mode can sometimes be a little one sided should one team be very early on in the game and the other be otherwise it’s generally not an issue and is easily worked around. The co-op missions are particularly enjoyable and are something that I personally found to be the best aspect of the game, due largely to the fact that not only can you approach each stage with a lot more control and cohesion than you could do with the often annoying AI, but because swearing at your friends for nicking the weapon you just dropped is one of those things in life that I just could never get enough of.
Currently Clan of Champions offers 24 stages on 4 separate difficulties, with each stage lasting around five to ten minutes depending on difficulty. This means you should be able to milk anywhere between 5 and 10 hours fairly easily, with that figure set to double if you’re fortunate enough to have friends. Despite this reasonable amount of longevity, it seems this title is more interested in the long haul, which is to say that it has already been made quite clear that there will be frequent and substantial DLC released fairly regularly that will feature additional quests similar to that of the release, and although that news no doubt irritates a lot of people, I actually consider it quite the blessing considering the nature of the game. Due largely to it’s style of combat and it’s absence of a massively substantial storyline, Clan of Champions really is a game you could keep playing forever, especially in good company and the fact that the games relevance will be maintained for some time yet only reinforces the fact that this isn’t a game to play and be forgotten but rather a game that you’ll keep coming back to time and time again.
All in all Clan of Champions offers gameplay that is far from outstanding or grandiose but rather simplistic in such a clean-cut fashion that I can’t imagine it ever losing its charm and its effectiveness. A lot of the games brilliance might be a little lost on the lonely few amongst us due largely to the fact that the multiplayer modes far outshine the already enjoyable single player in ‘most every way. Undeniably worth it’s hefty £24 price tag should you be buying it in good company, it really is quite the worthwhile purchase if you and your friends are looking for something new and fulfilling to sink your teeth into though you may feel a bit shortchanged if you’re only interested in the single player.
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