Champions. (computer game) (Evaluation)
by David Sears
Long the most enjoyable set of superhero role-playing rules for paper-and-pencil gamers, Champions makes the transition to the PC with notable grace. The tried and true, logical gaming system provides the foundation for a virtual world where paranormal people fly, generate lightning, and hurl Volkswagens at one another. While this sounds like a 1970s Marvel comic, Hero Games delivers anything but straight silliness.
Assume for a moment that you could fly and that you have a personal, internally powered force field that's good against most attacks short of nuclear ones. Does that make you invicible? Hardly--you'll face your share of super villains and personal crises, and don't forget that even comic book heroes sometimes marry and max out their VISA cards.
Such annoyances will clamor for attention. In exchange for taking on these obligations or "hunteds" as they're known in Champions, your receive a certain number of points that you use to buy powers or to improve your personal statistics. You also gain points for successfully completing missions.
Progress is realistically slow but rewarding, and you'll spend hours poring over your character's statistics. Champions devotees have often argued that designing a character is more fun than combat, but thanks to myriad powers and special effects to choose from, neither aspect of the game suffers.
Combat takes place onscreen and the energy blasts fly with comic book flair, leaping from your chosen sources of power to strike your opponents. The special effects you see are those chosen during the design phase of play, and this detail engenders a feeling of control not common to most role-playing games.
Here, too, is where the computer version of the game really shines: no more tedious combat arbitration by a ponderous, fallible, and human game master. All the necessary charts come built into the software, and the machine handles the dice rolls. As a result, action takes place at high speed; you have only to choose your targets.
On top of the arcade sequences and the superb character design modules, you'll find a storyline that has you talking with police officers, clocking in at a day job, and patrolling the city looking for bad guys. Future modules will provide alternate scenarios to the first.
Champions has it all--character development, megavillain slug outs, and plenty of Day-Glo union suits to parade around in. Evildoers beware; this superpowered RPG hits the streets before Christmas.