Monday, September 1, 2008
Good: Massive amounts of customization and item drops, graphics
Bad: Repetitive combat, control scheme not for everyone
Favorite Enemy Name: Groin Ripper
For the last decade or so, Too Human (along with Duke Nukem Forever) has been the Chinese Democracy of the videogame industry. It started in development for the original Playstation, then moved onto the Gamecube for a bit before finally finding its way onto the Xbox 360. During the course of production, a heavy amount of hype started forming around the game. Much of this was dissipated with its poor showing at E3 2006. I remember playing it there and thinking they shouldn't have put out such an unpolished, incomplete demo, and that they'd surely make many improvements before its release.
Over two years later, it still feels quite a bit like that E3 demo. Many gamers will be initially turned off by the odd control scheme, but it's easy to get used to after an hour or so of gameplay. Problem is, there's a difference between getting used to the controls and the controls actually being good. Combat doesn't grow too tiresome in the early battles, but you'll quickly learn that you'll be thrust into battle after battle after battle with virtually no change in controls whatsoever. You merely tilt the right analog stick in the direction of the enemy and hold it there until the enemy is dead. There are a couple non-standard attacks you can perform, such as juggles, the "finisher" moves and an area attack that can be pulled off after filling a combo meter. Other than those, it's pretty much just holding a stick towards an enemy, sometimes holding the right trigger when you want to switch to guns. Parts of the game almost feel like a less-interactive version of Dynasty Warriors.
Too Human does shine in spots, however. Most notably, the sheer amount of customization and various weapon/armor drops is staggering. It's almost overwhelming how many items you pick up on a regular basis. Swords, staffs, pistols, rifles, helms, runes, charms, blueprints:you'll get them all on an extremely frequent basis. I have a feeling they must have used some sort of random name generator for the item names, because some of them are downright ridiculous (you try writing a review of this game without making an immature joke about your Strongplated Staff of Pounding). It's this constant stream of new items that will keep some gamers playing long after they've tired of the repetitive combat. As much as it felt like a chore slashing through thousands of enemies, it was always nice at the end of the battle to go through the menus and compare all my new items with the ones I had equipped.
If you're unfamiliar with Norse mythology (and even if you aren't), the story of Too Human may leave you a bit confused. There's no real backstory or explanation of the concept of the game, but it basically portrays mythological gods as cybernetically enhanced humans in some futuristic alternate reality. You play as the god Baldur, and can choose whether he takes a human or cybernetic approach to improving himself. The story is nothing special, and it doesn't justify the frequent cutscenes. A couple of big reveals are thrown at you at the end of the game, but I doubt many people will be waiting with bated breath for the story's continuation.
It's a shame that Too Human's combat is so repetitive, because it's certainly a very ambitious project. The vast amount of weapons and customizations is fantastic, but it can't save the actual gameplay. A more thought-out sequel would be great, because it has potential to be a vastly improved experience if they just added a better combat engine.
First Play: 8.5
Replay Value: 7.5
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