I will start out with this: Clan of Champions should not be sold on PC as it is. While the game is fun, the PC version is very clearly a port of the console game with the controls slightly modified to use a mouse and keyboard.
With that out of the way, the game is actually fairly fun. For a couple hours, at least. But is it worth $40? Hell no.
Clan of Champions is a somewhat-typical beat-em-up game set in a medieval fantasy world. You get a glimpse of the details of the world and the kingdom you play around in through quest log entries before each mission, which you can do in single-player or online multi-player modes. The graphics are very mediocre, and they look like something out of the end of the last generation of console games, or close to the beginning of this generation. Definitely not a game with modern graphics by any stretch of the imagination. But before you get to playing, you need to make a character.
What surprised me when I made my first character is how much you can customize your character’s appearance. First, you choose whether you want to play a human, an elf, or an orc. Once you do that, you can customize everything from face to body size to skin color and hairstyle, so there is a lot of potential to make unique looking characters. It reminded me of the number of options you would have in a BioWare game (a bit closer to Dragon Age: Origins, though, considering the multiple races).
Figuring I’d be doing a lot of punching and strength would be good to have, I went with orc for my first character. Unfortunately, through this process you don’t get a really good description of what each stat directly translates to, so I don’t actually know how much health or damage I lost by playing an orc and putting a couple of extra points into strength over playing an elf and getting more mana.
With my character ready, I ventured into the game proper. There is a lengthy tutorial section which is well done, and does give a lot of advice on how to play the game.
Navigating the menus was a chore in itself, since the game doesn’t really tell you how to do it. Eventually I figured out that left click means okay in most but not all circumstances, right click means cancel/go back, and escape does pretty much nothing. A sign of the console origins of this game indeed.
There are three different ways to fight: unarmed, with one weapon and a shield, or with two weapons. There don’t seem to be any two-handed weapons, which seems like an omission, but I decided to go unarmed. Again, the game doesn’t really tell you how much damage you do, even though each weapon has a damage value. It took me a bit to figure out what each of the symbols next to the weapons and armor meant. Your total level is equal to the sum of all your fighting style levels, but each one grows separately by how much you use it. It’s very easy to switch from one style to another.
In addition to your weapons, you have special attacks specific to your weapon style that cost mana to use, and have a cooldown. These are what make the gameplay interesting and fun. There are a bunch of different options, and you can unlock more with in-game gold or by leveling up your fighting styles.
When you get into a fight, it’s you and your allies against a bunch of enemies. A minimap here would be something very useful, but it’s not present. Instead, you have to look around for enemies to fight. They’ll have big red health bars over their heads. Another useful feature which seems to have been omitted is something akin to crosshairs. While the game is a third-person perspective (and only third-person), it’s hard to tell exactly where you’re targeting due to the nature of the camera.
There are three kinds of normal attacks, high, middle, and low, each of which is keyed to a mouse button. This includes what is the worst control scheme I’ve ever seen in a game, the left click, right click, and MIDDLE CLICK. Yes, you have to click your scroll wheel if you want to do a middle attack, which is pretty much the most likely to hit. There’s a combo system in place if you really want to try and figure out different mix-up combos but the control scheme they put on the mouse essentially makes me just want to hit something with one attack until it dies. This is the most egregious sign of the game being a console port, with the buttons being directly mapped to mouse buttons.
As you fight, your armor may get damaged. The same goes for the people you fight. It’s generally a good idea to keep yourself well-protected and defend a lot so that this doesn’t happen, since you take a lot more damage without armor and healing takes a lot of mana. You get your armor back after the fight all repaired, so there’s no punishment for it breaking. The nice part of this system is that you can disarm your opponents and pick up their weapons in the middle of the fight, and after the fight you can either keep or sell them.
There is a system in place to upgrade weapons that you buy or find in battles. It starts out relatively cheap, but you need to combine two items to make a better one plus pay an upgrade fee. This can get expensive if you want the best equipment.
Each mission has one of four difficulty levels. The lowest is way too easy, and I was able to breeze through missions without a problem, and the highest seems impossible.
While decent enough, Clan of Champions is not worth its $39.99 price tag. If it were $15 or so, then if you are willing to tolerate the terrible controls, it’s worth it for a few hours of entertainment. The levels aren’t really any different from one another, so unless you want to keep experimenting with the different fighting styles (which all are pretty much “hit the enemy plus you have these special abilities too!”) the game really doesn’t provide more than a couple hours of enjoyment. Most of all, it seems that Clan of Champions would have been much more fitting for the times if it came out 6 years ago.Tags: Action, action rpg, NIS, NIS America, PC, Review, Steam