Review: Too Human (360)
Hack and Slash/RPG
Silicon Knights’ Norse ‘Em Up is finally here after eight years in development hell.
Along with Too Human comes all the hype spouted by Denis Dyack which, unlike some, I didn’t really care about and did not let them influence my opinions on this game. Too Human’s story is basically a unique take on Norse mythology. You play as the god and Aesir, Baldur. A war has broken out between man and machine and it is your duty to protect the human race from eradication. That is pretty much all you need to know. There is the occasional cutscene here and there to set things straight but the story isn’t this game’s strong point.
Before you begin the game you have a choice of five characters â€“ Champion, BioEngineer, Berserker, Commando and Defender. I chose the Champion since he is the most well rounded due to being equally adept at melee and ranged combat.
Despite portraying itself as an action RPG, initially the gameplay is more akin to that of hack and slash games such as Devil May Cry. However, rather than using the tried-and-tested method of button combos, Too Human instead introduces the new system of using the right analogue stick to attack. It all seems rather complicated and unusual at first but is in fact very simple once you get used to it.
Tapping RS in the direction of an enemy causes you to slide towards an enemy for a melee attack â€“ in large crowds of enemies this can be strung together to build up your combo meter. Double-tapping RS towards an enemy launches them into the air allowing you to set up an aerial attack. As well as melee combat, firearms also play a big part. The right trigger (and left for dual-wielding pistols) is used for these. They come in three varieties â€“ pistol, rifle and canon. As well as the three gun types there is also slug, laser and plasma-type ammo â€“ the best of which being laser due to the fact that the enemy are unable to attack when you continuously use it.
The most hyped feature of this game is no doubt the loot. If you are a loot whore then you will feel right at home. The drops are pretty constant, perhaps too constant since you will be constantly opening up the inventory to check out your equipment. Items that you no longer want can be converted into bounty (cash) and used to buy new weapons, armour or runes. You will also pick up blueprints which can be converted into new items using your bounty. Repairing your weapons and armour will also be required occasionally.
Upgrading your weapons and armour is possible by adding runes, with effects varying from laser damage increase to blunt weapons resistance. Once these runes have been added they cannot be removed. Runic charms are also available. Basically, these contain mini-quests e.g. â€œkill 100 enemiesâ€ and completing these allows for more powerful abilities not available from normal runes.
Skills and abilities are gained by spending skill points received when you level up on the skill tree â€“ basically a series of branching icons. Here you can increase the damage dealt out from various attacks or unlock new abilities. Firstly is the spider attack which allows you to summon a small robot which either acts as a mine or automated machine gun. Battle cries offer a temporary increase in your offense or defence. Ruiners attacks vary for each character class but usually consist of radial attacks useful for taking on crowds of enemies. Finally, there is sentient power which creates a double of your weapon that systematically attacks nearby enemies. The skill tree can be reset and points re-assigned whenever you want.
I admit I’m no historian but I was under the impression that norse mythology was all about gods who threw lightening bolts, wielded hammers and looked after Vikings, I’m buggered if I know where the robots and cybernetics come into it.
But putting aside the rather dodgy historical accuracy of this game you are left with an above average dungeon crawler which is scuppered by some annoying problems. Being scaled down from a four player to a two player co-op now means many of the character classes are all but redundant, there’s also such an over reliance on new equipment and item drops that you soon tire of constantly checking your inventory.
Add to this some uninspired bosses and some pointlessly confusing cyberspace sections based in a forest and the game almost falls apart at the seams. However I found the game was redeemed by the unique and highly fluid take on combat with attacks being mapped to the right stick and a reliance on aerial juggles. Before you know it you’ll find yourself enjoying the game and getting lost in stringing together combos and throwing baddies into the air. Not the best game ever but it’s a great slice of mindless action with some great production values behind it.
Secondary Score: 7/10
Another notable feature of the game is the online co-op. Given the choice of character classes it is fairly obvious that, to begin with, Silicon Knights had four player co-ops in mind but for whatever reason this was scaled back to two players. It plays realatively the same as single player but minus the cutscenes and the number of enemies is increased. You can chose to begin at certain points in any level and since it is also possible to play the levels without any story moments in single player, drop-in/out co-op is possible. The level of the enemies scales up to the highest level character in the game, good thing since it allows the other character access to higher level loot and also level up quicker. You can also trade items with each other using the back button. Despite a glitch here and a bug there, the online portion of the game holds up very well and gives the game a decent amount of longevity.
Given that the game has apparently been in development for ten years, you would be forgiven for thinking that it hasn’t. In a lot of areas it doesn’t really show â€“ but there are a few exceptions. The facial animation is rather wooden and the overall character animation seems shoddy at times. The explosion effects are somewhat laughable and the lines of dialogue bleated by your allies are some of the cheesiest you will here. The voice acting from the main characters is decent enough though. One of the things I really like about this game is the amount of detail in the weapons and armour. Each looks different from the last with its neon glows and sci-fi styling’s. The level design is also very impressive, from the giant Norse statues littering the Hall of Heroes to the epic vistas in Helheim. It is certainly easy on the eyes.
When I bought this game I did so without any high expectations so not to be disappointed, and thankfully I wasn’t. It is a solid action RPG/adventure with a good story, depth and a decent online component. There are only four different levels but due to their size it should take you around fifteen hours or so to complete the entire game. Replayability is enhanced thanks to the different character classes and experimenting with different combinations in multiplayer. Too Human was conceived as being part of a trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope that we will eventually see the sequels – sooner rather than later – building on the foundations set first one.