Clan of Champions has made its way to the PlayStation Network coming to us from Acquire, the developers of Tenchu and the Way of the Samurai series. Will this brawler fight its way to the top of your favourites list or is this a brutal game in more ways than one?
You may be surprised to know that NIS America is publishing this latest effort from Acquire given the fact that they usually publish more light-hearted fantasy and RPG games. Clan of Champions is certainly not light-hearted, this is one gruesome game with blood and bodies littering the ground as you fight your way to the end. As fun as that can be though, Clan of Champions does feel a bit lacking in some areas.
In Clan of Champions, you start off as one of three characters venturing into a castle to destroy everything in front of you. There’s a lot of backstory in the opening text. Acquire even tries to make it very meaningful but, let’s be honest here, if you’re playing this game, you want to kill things and not much else. Props to the developer for actually trying to give the user an engaging story though because there’s even a bunch more text with the new missions you’ll unlock. Like I said before though, the bread and butter is the combat and upgrades which seems to be the focal point in the development of Clan of Champions.
Each level is comprised of two or three linked chambers and to be honest, you can probably get a bit mixed up considering the scenery is so similar from place to place. Keep in mind though, how much does the scenery actually matter in a game where all you have to do is kill your enemies any way possible? It really doesn’t but, for those who are all about the graphics and visuals, it may be an annoyance. The main premise is to kill all the enemies until there is nothing left around you. The problem I had with this is that you’re generally fighting the same enemies throughout the game without much variety so it becomes very repetitive.
There’s a bit of an odd menu interface that encourages players to upgrade their equipment in various ways before you accept your next mission. This is one of the strong points in Clan of Champions as it plays much like an RPG. Each character is allowed to equip eight different pieces of equipment which enemies can target once you enter the battlefield. Each piece can only withstand a certain amount of damage before it falls off your character. You can pick it back up if you get the chance to do so but, generally you’ll be too busy fending off the waves of attackers to worry about that. Obviously when you drop a piece of equipment, your character is left more vulnerable to attacks. Take to many hits to a exposed body part and things will end very abruptly for your character. The great thing is that you can also focus on the different pieces of equipment on enemy players giving them their own handicaps and allowing you to expose their weaknesses.
To attack a certain part of your opponent’s body, all that has to be done is to press the button that corresponds to each of the different types of strikes such as low blows and high swipes. You can attack with the standard sword and shield (my personal favourite) or you can equip iron knuckles to really get you melee on. There are also magic attacks for those that like more of a fantasy-type game, for me that wasn’t something I was really interested in. Your skills that you build up and master can be assigned to one of the many different slots available allowing for further customization with experience coming from moves performed in battle.
Individual battles due become a bit tiresome without much variety to set them apart which is the underlying problem in Clan of Champions. Boss fights are the one thing that actually does add some variety but, even then you’re just facing bigger and more aggressive enemies while performing the same tasks you did before. Missions do have some replay value because you can go back and find different weapons and gear as well as go up in the rankings but, otherwise there isn’t a whole ton of incentive to replaying any of the missions. The gear and weaponry that you do find can be used for scrap material when enhancing your gear at the Smith’s shop or sold for some currency.
Improved equipment is definitely necessary if you choose to play online or even on a higher difficulty. You can team up with a couple other players to play the campaign together or try your hand at 3 other human players in an all out brawl. If you have crappy armor and equipment going into a battler against other human players, you likely won’t last long, as is the case in most online brawlers. The game fills up with AI players if you can’t find enough humans which is good with a smaller title like Clan of Champions considering not that many people will be playing at one time. The AI players do tend to be a bit overpowered though which takes away from what could be a great experience. Another thing that takes away from the co-op experience online is the fact that you can only play through the campaign levels you’ve already beaten yourself so, you’re going to have to play single-player at some point no matter what even if you don’t want to.
Overall, Clan of Champions is a good brawler with a lot of upgrades but, falls short with a confusing storyline and lack of variety. Check this out if you are in the mood for some mindless brutality!
*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by NIS America for review purposes*