Generally favorable reviews - based on 48 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 48
  2. Negative: 0 out of 48
Buy On
  1. 75
    Doesn't offer enough of these diversions, subjecting the bulk of the adventuring to an endless procession of serpentine dungeons, where killing some entrenched boss figures counts as variety.
  2. Novices, however, should start with simpler fare such as the Baldur's Gate games, which are easy budget pickups these days, or the excellent X-Men: Legends for that matter.
  3. Branching stories break the monotony of replaying the game.
  4. Cheat Code Central
    It's quite possible that Champions: Return to Arms is the best hack and slash game ever created. Unfortunately it has been built atop the foundation of "Champions of Norrath." So much so that fans of that game may feel somewhat betrayed that Return to Arms is so similar.
  5. A mediocre follow-up to the original Champions of Norrath. Good, but not $50 worth of good.
  6. May not be the most original game, but in the end, it’s a fun one. If you want to spend a weekend hacking and slashing alone or with online buddies, you can’t go wrong with this game.
  7. For those of you fans of the original wishing for better online support should definitely check out Return to Arms, because I think it just may have what you are looking for.
  8. But there's hardly anything new here. The plot is paper-thin, and lacks a driving sense of humor or drama to keep you interested. The game-play is just as basic as it's ever been, and frankly, if you've played any of its predecessors, you've slashed and spellcast just this way a million times before.
  9. Edge Magazine
    Ironically, it’s people who haven’t played Champions rather than veterans who could find the most to like, given that it’s a year’s worth of tweaks and polish on that game’s largely positive foundation. [Apr 2005, p.105]
  10. As I paraded through the areas killing similar tiny enemies over and over (even the "big" monsters don't intimidate), it took forever to find any exciting rare items to wield. Without those incentives, things got monotonous. [March 2005, p.123]
  11. In fairness to games out there that are sequels, and actually bring something new to the table, to call this game a sequel is to do those other games an injustice. Champions: Return to Arms is an expansion pack, if anything.
  12. 80
    Offers enough playability and action to satisfy any action RPG fan, but it lacks the intricate story and involving quests that would lure in traditional role-playing vets.
  13. A better game than the original, but only slightly. With new abilities for old classes, attempts at new classes, and a few new features such as improved online play and ‘side-quests’, this emerges as the spiritual descendent of "Diablo II."
  14. Game Informer
    Though everything is very well-done, it's difficult to shake the feeling that I've been playing this game since "Diablo" came out on PC in 1997. [March 2005, p.124]
  15. Yet, even with newly included character classes, new gameplay features and a cleaner online system, the fact still remains that Return To Arms is a title with relatively few advancements within the formula.
  16. New spells and powers don’t mean much once you hop into the game’s single-player campaign, as the action is still mash, mash, mash, mash. The level design is just as it has always been, meaning twisting labyrinth after twisting labyrinth filled with hordes of mindless enemies.
  17. 75
    A great game but the fact that everything it delivers has been seen and done before brings it down.
  18. A solid game, but largely derivative. Pick it up if you haven't played the first.
  19. 90
    As for controls, combat and inventory-sorting are quick and clean. Spellcasting can be frustrating, though, as aiming projectiles is often a trial-by-error process. [March 2005, p.90]
  20. This is definitely a genre that needs some serious reinventing.
  21. Hack and slash a-go-go. It’s a good game because the play is pretty much identical to an older good game.
  22. games(TM)
    The almost endless number of weapon, item and location combinations created by its randomly generated environments means you’ll never quite know what lies ahead, while the quest-led action and multiplayer functionality - particularly online - are compelling enough to keep you hooked for hours. [Apr 2005, p.108]
  23. There's a whole new story, working multiplayer, thousands of new items, new mini-games and sidequests, new classes to play, and the ability to play evil and good plot paths. On the other side of the coin is gameplay that most of us have seen before, following the same formula, and not taking any real chances in the process.
  24. The improvements that Champions: Return to Arms makes over its predecessors are modest, and after four years of roughly the same game, the fundamental formula is starting to feel a little tired.
  25. 70
    Comes up short in a number of ways. Would you really notice a big difference between playing the last game again on a higher difficulty and running through the new one with your eyes half-closed? That's the $50 question, and it's one that unfortunately must be answered in the negative.
  26. A solid dungeon hack, but after four years of the same, the formula is wearing a bit thin. Return to Arm’s biggest failure is that it feels too much like an expansion pack instead of a shiny, brand new game.
  27. With branching paths that can lead to good or evil and a multiplayer mode that kicks major tail Return to Arms is more hack-and-slash action worth checking out.
  28. It's totally fun and addicting to play.
  29. Multiplayer is THE way to play this game and Champions: Return to Arms adds a few twists to the series.
  30. It’s unfortunate that this sequel has the blender feel to it, as the original game was a blast to play.
  31. 76
    Those who have played the other games like this could very well be scratching their heads at why they're playing the same game as before. The old thrills are still here and it's possible to get right back into it as before, but the same rush and level of addiction is harder to attain this time around.
  32. Doesn’t deviate much from Champions of Norrath—not nearly enough to be convincing as a true sequel. It carries the torch from the first game and is still just as fun as the original. Players expecting new advances in gameplay may be disappointed but don’t let that detract you.
  33. Over 100 hours of game play through 50 levels of sword-swinging, spell-casting combat, thousands of new weapons and equipment, and two new characters (the fighting furry Vah Shir and the lizardman Iksar) will keep you huffing at trucker speed through the wee hours.
  34. If you liked the Diablo series or the Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance series, then you will not be disappointed with Champions: Return to Arms.
  35. netjak
    It is better than its predecessor, but it hurts itself by trying to employ too many platforming elements.
  36. Solid game, just not that much different than the first.
  37. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    The limits to which the team has managed to stretch the PS2's capacity are pretty amazing - it's hard to believe this is the same graphics engine that was used in the first game. [March 2005, p.98]
  38. 65
    An improvement over Champions of Norrath, but just doesn't do enough to separate itself from the other games which have preceded it.
  39. Pelit (Finland)
    The sequel to Champions of Norrath offers a neat and entertaining package of addictive hack 'n' slash action - but is it really that difficult to implement a proper story? [Mar. 05]
  40. Play Magazine
    Give Return to Arms credit for maintaining a good level of strategy and balance to the action. [March 2005, p.54]
  41. PSM Magazine
    It's pretty - really, really pretty, with smooth animations, dynamic lighting, and remarkably detailed, solid-looking textures... [But] the story execution falls a bit short. [Feb 2005, p.70]
  42. Personally, I had fun with Return to Arms, despite its flaws… until the end. I won’t spoil anything, but after 20 hours, one would expect more than the anticlimax at the end of the journey.
  43. An absolute blast to play, especially with friends online or off. If you love action RPG's then I can't imagine you'd find a better one than this.
  44. The number of times I got ripped apart by wild dogs made me regret ever wanting to be a lizard. Didn’t stop me coming back for more, though.
  45. The whole experience is beautifully rendered in high resolution, which makes for some sumptuous details in the graphics.
  46. 73
    An entertaining little dungeon-romp, if you aren’t a wizened Snowblind gamer.
  47. The only real weakness of the combat engine at all is the lack of any sort of auto-targeting system, which makes using ranged weaponry frustrating.
  48. 70
    The players who'll get the most out of Return to Arms are those who didn't play the last game, and perhaps even gamers who haven't touched a hack-and-slash since "Gauntlet."

Awards & Rankings

#62 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2005
#38 Most Shared PS2 Game of 2005
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 49 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. JoshB.
    May 11, 2005
    Best rpg game ever!
  2. IvanF.
    Feb 24, 2005
    Yeah, its basically the same game, but it is fun to play. The side quests and the option to return to planes that have been completed are a Yeah, its basically the same game, but it is fun to play. The side quests and the option to return to planes that have been completed are a welcome addition. Return to Arms would have received a 9 if there were not an annoying bug in the very last boss fight. I simply could not rotate the camera without the game being stuck. Other than that, I am very satisfied that Sony and Snowblind have enhanced one of my favorite games. I am about to beat the Return to Arms for the second time to raise my character's level to 80. Full Review »
  3. Dec 27, 2012
    Absolutely love this game! The story is a little weak but the game play beats any hack and slash dungeon crawler ever made. It looksAbsolutely love this game! The story is a little weak but the game play beats any hack and slash dungeon crawler ever made. It looks beautiful and moves quick enough that it's impossible to get bored and put down the controller I wish developers would make more games like this one. Plus there is nothing more fun than having a friend over or 3 for some excellent co-op action. A PC port or remake would be nice with controller support. This game made be buy a PS2 again just for this game. Full Review »