Review: Too Human is Too Average

I remember the days of Diablo 2. Those were good days. They were so good, in fact, that they spawned a range of clones, ports, and mostly failed attempts to use some of the better features. Too Human, sadly, is one of these attempts. I do give the developers props for an otherwise decent game, though there are issues.

Set in some sort of war-torn future, and to the story of the Norse mythos (Odin, Thor, Loki, Baldur, Fenrir, and others all make their requisite appearances in the cast), it takes an interesting twist on an old old plot, with you playing the god, Baldur. The frost giants are cast essentially as AI robotic foes to humanity (completely original. Not at all like The Matrix, Terminator, I Robot – or the Asimov series it’s founded on, or any of the other fictions that try this). But, if you have to use character commentary to point out that the robotic angel coming for the dead is a valkyrie – even to somebody with some knowledge of Norse mythology – then I think you’ve missed your mark. I’ve seen plenty of other representations of Valkyries. Robot angels, they are not.
Whereas the wolf was the valkyrie’s mount, the valkyrie herself appears to be akin to the raven, flying over the battlefield and “choosing” corpses. Thus, the packs of wolves and ravens that scavenged the aftermath of battles may have been seen as serving a higher purpose. – Wikipedia

The graphics and sound are about average for today’s games… they don’t detract from the game noticably, but they certainly don’t add anything, either. But, it’s an action game, so that can be forgiven. When I’m shooting down hoards of robotic… things, out for my blood, I tend not to notice the amazing particle effects, or the sudden up in the music’s tempo. I’m too busy running for my life or glorying in a blood bath for that.

The graphics aren’t horrible, but they certainly aren’t pushing any boundaries. They manage to set a dark, broody mood, which is always good for a main character out for some good, old fashioned revenge. But the characters’ lips aren’t always matching what they say – and they’re clearly supposed to be speaking English. If you set the spoken language to Japanese, it’s even worse – kind of like watching a badly dubbed foreign film. Or that sound effect guy from Police Academy.

The music. Well… I honestly don’t remember the music. If I’m not mistaken, that would be the definition of forgettable. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s certainly better to have unremarkable music, than to be remembered for sound that completely destroys an experience.

Where I really have a problem, though, is the game mechanics. Too Human is self-proclaimed as a blend of action/RPG, like so many others on the video game band wagon, these days. Take a game with basic action fare – kill kill kill, walk walk walk, kill kill kill, walk walk jump, kill some more – add in some random item drops and make the character improve as he kills hordes of bad guy, and voila Action/RPG (No, No, No, No!).

Their tack on the genre? Provide the player with five classes to choose from, two alignments, and randomly generated items of varying strength, a-la World of Warcraft (and all of its clones) – which in turn “stole” the idea from Diablo 2 (which did not originate it, but certainly made it popular). I put stole in quotes, because WoW & Diablo 2 are both made by Blizzard, but the development house behind Diablo 2 moved on to make Hellgate London… which is another Diablo remix, with its own truckload of issues, and a few great twists thrown into the mix (and much better than this time killer of a game).

Unoriginal maybe, but all great so far. Until you notice that the game is mostly single-player, which removes much of the trading aspect – making the random-items system less than enjoyable if you have no internet access. Two players still doesn’t allow for a real system to trade items between classes – so 90% of the stuff you find in the game may as well be money, saving you the hours you’re going to spend going through an inventory and salvaging the crap, anyway.

And speaking of the classes, five classes is great. Diablo 2 started with that many different classes. Notice I said different classes. Too Human, pay attention now. The guy with more health, the guy that’s a little faster, the guy that hits hard, and the guy who’s average does not constitute classes. Or different. Different classes means completely different play experiences, and styles. A correct implementation of a class system would include skill trees with actual skills… and not just stat bonuses. Two unique abilities per playthrough isn’t variety, especially when every character has the same combat options, weapons to choose from, basic moves, appearance, voice… am I forgetting anything?

A correct implementation of a class system would have a more distinct “token” move for each class, which sets them apart. The supposed gunner class? Give them some multishot move, or a sniper ability, where you can actually go first-person (Hellgate got this right). Don’t give everybody the ability to dash from foe to foe in melee so easily. That should definitely be for the speedy guy (though the defender is noticeably slower than the other classes)… and the tank? Give him stuff that flat out stuns enemies, or knocks them around. You can tell that the developers attempted to differentiate the classes… after playing 3 or 4 of them, for a few hours each, to get far enough into the trees. Who’s going to do that? Besides me, that is. It’s just not enough.

Make the different classes different GAMES. Different methods of play. Different strokes, different folks. If you’re gonna steal something from Blizzard, at least get it right, man.

The controls, I must say, are a pretty cool attempt. Left stick move, right stick attack/aim. This gives the ability to run one way, and fire another – even at two different targets, when using pistols. Of course… to turn and attack behind you, you need to see behind you, and even the farthest zoom only lets you see maybe 3 feet behind you. And what’s that? You want to run away? GODS DON’T RUN! Well, they don’t run any faster than monsters, anyway. Even the gunner is better off standing his ground and resorting to his crappy sword skills when the mobs manage to get close.

So yeah… Too Human is ok for killing some time. The plot is interesting at first, if a bit played… but it’s not enough to keep the game interesting all the way through. And the game play fails to pick up where the story leaves off. If you’re looking for a way to kill a few hours alone, sure, get this game. If you’re looking for some great online game, or a way to kill a weekend… get Diablo 2, Hellgate: London, or even World of Warcraft, if you’re looking to be a hermit. But I’m waiting to see how WAR turns out.

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