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Too Human


Sabreman
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You what?

Sigh and rolleyes. It's wonky as fuck but it's ace. The graphics are inconsistent, the sound levels are wrong, the frame rate suffers (even during cut scenes) and in the 'flashbacks' you're wearing what ever gear you have on in the 'present'. If you didn't like the demo, you're not going to like it. If you're a loot whoring button(stick)masher with a thing for cheap, hokey plotlines, overwrought dialogue and some cool character design like I am then it'll float you boat. And it floats mine very well indeed.

RE: Co-op. I ain't wading into that until the campaign is finished.

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Sigh and rolleyes. It's wonky as fuck but it's ace. The graphics are inconsistent, the sound levels are wrong, the frame rate suffers (even during cut scenes) and in the 'flashbacks' you're wearing what ever gear you have on in the 'present'. If you didn't like the demo, you're not going to like it. If you're a loot whoring button(stick)masher with a thing for cheap, hokey plotlines, overwrought dialogue and some cool character design like I am then it'll float you boat. And it floats mine very well indeed.

RE: Co-op. I ain't wading into that until the campaign is finished.

Cool :) Wasn't trying to be a dick, it's just inconsistent stuff like terrible sound, voice acting etc. usually makes me go mental, so I was curious as to why you love it.

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I've just finished the single-player campaign playing as a Commando. It's short for a start - a pip over 11 hours, and that was with me watching the cutscenes and doing a bit of general wandering and a lot of item management. The length of the single player isn't really an issue with this kind of game though, and I don't feel short-changed considering how long I'm likely to spend with the co-op.

The game has a number of issues, many of which are frustratingly elementary. The most obvious ones being a very wilful and sometimes wonky camera. For the most part it does its job fine, but I came across a few moments where it simply didn't seem to know what to do (mainly when moving into an area on the edge of the main course, or trying to explore smaller spaces). Also, hitting the bumper to re-centre the camera causes you to stop moving, which is so annoying I gave up on trying it. In PSO a quick flick of the trigger and you were squared up again no problem. I know this isn't PSO but it's my closest comparison in game style and control scheme. The controls do take a bit of adjusting to, but in full flow the right-stick combat system works incredibly well. The mapping could have been a little better thought out (I wish reload was somewhere other than the right-stick button) but overall the maligned-at-concept control scheme is much more preferable than hammering away at buttons for hours at a time.

Humourous glitches crop up here and there as ever. Your AI-controlled human support team get caught all over the scenery, camera angles in lesser cutscenes sometimes find themselves inside objects or characters. When you're out and about in the hub world and you stop to talk to someone, you remain in your idle animations. So you get the sight of Baldur breathing very heavily, flexing, hopping up and down, etc. while someone is dishing out dramatic exposition. Memories of The Witcher come flooding back. Sometimes cutscenes end abruptly before characters have finished talking. Not the set-piece ones, but the incidental ones. It is surprising and a little disappointing that these kind of things - very much visible on a single playthrough - didn't get ironed out, especially in a game so long in development.

The visuals are an odd mix of the rough and the smooth. There are moments where it looks very impressive indeed... huge environments stretching away as far as you can see, no pop-up at all. As far as variety goes, the game holds to a very specific design choice. Three of the four main areas are quite alike, albeit with different colour schemes. Stone and metal rules the day, and you could say it gets repetitive but I guess it's in keeping with the grim northern roots of the mythology. I didn't really expect a forest level, but a bit of respite would have been refreshing. You do get the cyberspace areas, but these are almost throwaway. It's chunky. Everything is larger than life, a bit overwrought. Maybe overdesigned. Where an elevator would suffice there are enormous armatures that lift entire sections of floor up. The rooms are huge, probably to accommodate multiplayer better. At one point a character remarked that a room was too big to be empty, which made me chuckle.

There are times where the framerate suffers - usually from atmospheric effects - and others where the screen is chock-full of action with no performance hit at all. The engine has a weird... I don't know quite how to describe it... a 'chalky' look to it. If Unreal Engine is a coat of gloss, this is a coat of matt. Completely superfluous point I know, but all the way through I had that in my head. I'm not saying it looks bad as such, but it definitely has a feel of the not quite finished.

The game itself is thankfully a blast to play. It's not for everyone, it's most definitely one for the loot whores out there. Kill stuff, pick up stuff that makes you look cooler and kill more stuff. If that was all there was to it I'm sure it would die a quick death, but the combat is actually very, very exciting and satisfying. It's wonderfully noisy as well, which just adds to the fun. Playing as a Commando I encountered the usual issues with a ranged character. Some areas simply don't allow you to move about and give yourself the space you need to be effective (once you're in the midst of mélee you're pretty much toast). The game does have an unfortunate habit of dropping you into such situations, especially during the second area. Gunplay can be a bit fiddly too, and you'll sometimes find yourself locked onto an enemy you've already dispatched while others are bearing down on you. Like the Ranger in PSO, Commando is all about careful choice of targets, a bit of crowd control, and running away. I think the Commando will come into his own in the multiplayer.

The weapon types, their strengths and weaknesses are a little cloudy too. There were times where I was lasering an enemy, merrily dropping its health down to a certain point before suddenly and inexplicably being unable to damage it further. Blast damage is frequent and annoying, as it seems to affect you way beyond its visual area of effect. The enemies do the age-old trick of beelining for you regardless of whoever else is around, but I guess your comrades are really only there to chip in with story bits and banter (and the banter does become extremely tiresome, especially in the case of Thor). On this play through I never really figured out any boss strategies, and it seemed to be the old job of constantly running away while trying to get a few shots in. Might just be a Commando issue, but essentially it's a case of when the boss wants to hit you, it jolly well will.

The loot is overwhelming, and in the early stages it's barely worth thinking about as it gets superceded constantly. Later on though, when you start getting into the crafting and start playing about with the runes and charms it becomes very compulsive. There's oodles of depth in there for tinkerers. The only thing that mars that aspect is the fact that everyone is playing as the same guy.

I liked the story. I'm an easy sell because I have a soft spot for mythology. Bang a bunch of old gods in something and I'll immediately be more interested than usual. It's not the ground-breaking, surprising masterpiece Denis Dyack managed to lead people to believe, but as videogame tales go it was fine. I cared about the characters and I wanted to know what would happen to them. That's enough for me. There's a lot of setup in here so I can only hope the follow-up games are forthcoming.

It doesn't have the charm, visual appeal or variety of PSO. The touted 'challenge areas' amount to little more than timed rooms and hidden areas (which seemed to thin out considerably after the first couple of levels, or I was just getting worse at spotting them). It does however have a raw, hugely satisfying action-heavy feel, one which can only be improved considerably by the multiplayer mode. It's a game to be played through and through. I'm happy with it, in the end.

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Proper review

Ah, thanks for that, Sabe. Looks like my 360 cold feet are thawing slightly.

Let us know how multiplayer turns out, eh? I guess people won't be playing it forever as I can't see it getting all the updates and 'new' content that PSO did, but I suppose you never know what's waiting on the disc to be unlocked.

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Sabre's impressions are right on the Meat. its a good game, nothing awe inspiring, but quite solid. I am on my third playthrough and the loot crafting charming is addicting.

in addition to Sabre's words i would classify it as Lego Star Wars mixed with titan quest set over 4 levels. Which isnt too much of a bad thing.

Hopefully the DLC isnt just 'horse armor' and we could get a level or two.

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I'm about 4 hours in, level 17 Champion. In the ice.

It's good. It has some massive issues, but it's still fun.

It's very much been built for 4-player co-op in my opinion, and then there's been an "Oh fuck...we can't actually manage 4 players!" - but they haven't changed much of the design.

Combat is actually becoming quite interesting - especially once you realise that B/roll makes you invulnerable (it's the only way to avoid some attacks...stupid spiders with shockwaves you can't jump over!).

The "typed" enemies are becoming annoying (how the hell are you meant to damage the ice ones? nothing, bar melee seems to work?). Getting Poisoned/Burnt is also a chore...as it most likely means you'll die with no way to heal (why can't I carry med packs) and no way to undo status effects (unless you're the relevant class...another "designed for 4" thing).

My sentient power (press RS/LS) - how do I recharge? I used it once and now it wont again?

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