Clan of Champions Review

October 30, 2012

/ by Tin Salamunic

Developer(s): Acquire Corp.
Publisher(s): NIS America
Platform(s): PC (Steam), PSN, Xbox 360
Review Platform: PC
Release Date: October 30, 2012

Over the past few years, free-to-play games have shown us that you can get a fairly decent amount of entrainment for free. Even if you throw in some of the micro transactions, you really don’t need to spend too much money to compete with your friends in all sorts of online venues. So when a game does carry a price tag, it should also carry the responsibility of providing players with something beyond the rudimentary. Clan of Champions is an arena brawler that can be tackled solo or with friends in co-op and multiplayer. While the premise of a gladiator-style hack n’ slash with magic, orcs, and elves sounds promising, the end result is a broken, unplayable, and painful experience that’s sure to give you carpal tunnel and make your ears bleed.
  • Co-op and multiplayer arena-style battles
  • Using helmets as boxing gloves
  • Keyboard controls are counter intuitive
  • Groaning sounds are unbearable
  • Visuals are bland and repetitive
  • Zero diversity in gameplay
When was the last time you played a PC game that didn’t let you tweak your graphics and control settings? I honestly can’t remember, must have been in the early nineties. From the moment you’re presented with the main menu, you have two choices: “Game Start” and “Instructions.” The latter shows you a generic gamepad layout, but not a single option to assign commands. What’s worse is that you can’t even use a gamepad. The game doesn’t register anything besides the keyboard, so you’re left with the unintuitive keyboard/mouse combo.

Upon starting the game you’re given the option to create your warrior by choosing between human, orc, and elf races. The character creator is one of the most barren you’ll ever see. Choosing between three face/head types and a few haircuts/tattoos is all the customization the game offers. Sure, there are a few different voices to assign to your character, but their moans and growls all sound frighteningly painful. Lastly, you can distribute talent points and choose between dual-wield, close-combat, and sword-shield fighting styles, but in reality, none of these choices affect your combat very much.

You begin by selecting your “mission,” which is nothing more than a checklist of arenas that you go through one by one. There’s no presentation here. Each arena has some kind of backstory that’s told through a few lines of text and I never knew, or cared, why I was fighting…or who for that matter. It is immediately apparent that Clan of Champions is designed for consoles and I’m shocked that it's making its debut on PC. Attacks are dealt with the left, right, and middle mouse clicks and combining them performs various combos and special attacks. But it’s when you’re trying to roll and block that your fingers will spaz after extended play. Characters control as if on a pivot and maneuvering incoming attacks feels extremely clumsy. Rolling is cumbersome and animations are so weighty that you’re more inclined to button-mash than mix and match offensive/defensive techniques.

Of course upgrading your character results in higher stats and greater performance, but it never truly impacts gameplay in any way. For the sake of the review, I played an entire arena on the hardest setting and just tapped the left mouse button. No blocking, no dashing, just button mashing. Sure, it was a bit tougher walking away from attacks, but I was never challenged to try anything else. There are speckles of potential in the arenas, such as the ability to knock away enemy weapons and armor and re-equip them in any way you please. You can put helmets on your hands and use them as boxing gloves or you can fist fight your way through an entire mission. Unfortunately, it appears your warriors suffer from lower back arthritis and are very slow at picking up objects. What’s even worse is that you have three different buttons for picking things up. A button for your left hand, one for your head/helmet, and one for your right hand. It sounds easy enough, but when enemies surround you and there’s a pile of junk on the floor, it’s impossible to pick up the weapon you need.

If the gameplay hasn’t pushed you away by now, the presentation surely will. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this is a first generation PS2 game with a slightly higher resolution. Environments look like something I could put together with Google Sketchup in a few hours and there’s no sense of design or creativity. Arenas look identical to each other with repetitive textures plastered over barren walls. Some battlegrounds are short, linear passageways that lead to larger areas, but I couldn’t tell one place from another. Character models are treated the same way. There were instances when I was surrounded by three orc warriors…that looked exactly like me. Ouch.

But nothing comes even close to the suffering you’ll experience from the sound. Everyone grunts and moans in the most obnoxious manner imaginable. Poorly recorded, repetitive audio samples that run on a nonstop loop. It’s torturous. Some of the orchestral background music is “ok,” but you won’t notice it over the shrilling cries echoing in the arenas.

I would love to talk about the multiplayer, especially since it appears the game’s main draw, but there wasn’t a single person online and the network was constantly down. So while it seems unfair to dismiss that component from the review, it wouldn’t change the fundamental gameplay, even if there were twenty players battling it out on-screen. I’m no programmer, but I do know what a capable person can create if they’re passionate enough about their work. The recently released Dust was a masterpiece and it was created by a single individual. Clan of Champions is soulless, careless, and feels unfinished. Acquire is best known for their Tenchu series and I don’t understand how this game came from the same team. Maybe the console version will be an entirely different experience, but the PC release isn’t worth your time, even if it was free.

Final Score “Repetitive, Soulless, and Archaic” 3.5
The game looks like it was put together in a day. Repetitive environments, repetitive characters and textures, everything looks the same. There aren't even any graphics settings to adjust. What you see is what you get.
You can technically beat the entire game by tapping the left mouse button and walking away from most incoming attacks. There are upgradable moves here and there, but you're never challenged to mix up your combat. After a week of playing, my hands felt numb and stiff.
There's a decent amount of arenas, but there's not a single reason to play through them. Even when the multiplayer becomes accessible, the gameplay lacks any diversity and enjoyment. You'll have more fun peeling onions and drinking your tears than playing this game.
I've endured some of the worst video game audio throughout my lifetime of gaming and I never had to put a game on mute. That is until I played Clan of Champions. The painfully annoying grunts will haunt your dreams.

Review by Tin Salamunic

Tin Salamunic is the founder of The Game Scouts. He is a Video Game Journalist during the day and illustrator by night. He's been obsessed with video games since the early NES days, collecting every major system and game on the market. Video games are the reason he pursued the illustration career and he hopes to be creative director for a video game company one day. All Artciles by Tin. 

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