Monday, December 1, 2008

"Too Human" adds futuristic twist on a classic tale

You ever watch a movie or play a video game that ends abruptly - and you know the story wasn't quite baked to perfection? You aren't mad that it just ended - you are mad because the loose ends weren't tied, and you know it was just a setup to a sequel. Enters "Too Human," stage left.

The game, developed by Silicon Knights for several years, focuses on the main character, Baldur. It is a futurist retelling of a Norse tale. That's cool and I have no problem with that aspect. But, besides just ending sharply, there are some other warts in this game that make being a god not so cool.

First, the good. The game starts out with Baldur learning about his past and leading his commandos, the Wolves, into battles all over the universe. It's an RPG hybrid - it has some RPG elements, some real-time fights and the ability to slash your way out of some hairy situations. You have access to a ton of weapons, armor, augmentations and upgrade points for character development (You can choose to be a beserker, champion, bio engineer, defender and commando). The environs are easy on the eyes, and vast, but not quite open sandbox. Another plus? The tons of literary references in the games will make you want to dust off your old Macmillan English Lit book.

Now, the bad. The controls are a mess. You will have access to some cool heavy weapons later in the game, but to control them while keeping enemies at bay is a hassle. The controls DO WORK great when you have multiple enemies. Baldur will slide from enemy to enemy and earn some combo bonuses. That's good. Not being able to control him the way you want when he's not sliding around? Not so much.

The camera angles are confusing and really fail during some combat episodes. You can't rotate around Baldur - and that can be difficult when you have goblins and trolls (and these huge spiders), lighting you up like the White House Christmas tree. Plus, you have the ability to access an intranet and do things (think The Matrix) in the virtual world that will cause things in the real world to happen (like opening a door in the virtual world or destroying it opens it in the real world). Why can't I have the ability in the real world? I am a god - can't I use special abilities? Isn't that what makes a god a god?

There are a few missions where you have backup - Thor - but as much trash as he talks during cutscenes, you'd think he's Jason Bourne. Maybe Jason Stillborn. He is as worthless as a third leg. During missions with him, not only did I have to save him while keeping enemies off my back, he would say he's ready for a fight. Oh, I definitely laughed after a few goblins and their missiles opened up on him.

Another interesting feature? The ride of the valkyries. These mythical creatures descend after you are *killed* in battle. I saw a couple and tried to light into them. Nope. They carry the dead to another world - where? Ask Odin - and give you a fresh life anywhere. I actually earned an achievement for dying a lot of times. There's no real punishment for dying - you lose your finishing combos - but your enemy is still weakened to the point of your passing. And when you kill them, there's no resurrection for them.

The biggest disappointment for me? The moment when you check your stats, see you are near 100 percent finished and you realize this game is going to end without you completing the story. I was shocked - and wondered out loud if Silicon Knights are working on the sequel.

I do see a lot of good in this game. I have played through it twice and it does allow your upgrades to accumulate (much like "Mass Effect" allows you to play again with upgraded stats). While I had fun whipping goblins and trolls all over Odin's universe, and I know a lot of work was put into the game, but the disappointment may spoil your adventure as a god.

8.0 out of 10

No comments: