Friday, October 10, 2008

Too Human Impressions.

I hesitate to call anything a review, and hate giving anything a quantifiable score. The only time I'll give a score is if it's really vague, such as the star system used heavily to rate movies. The reason for this hesitation is because I don't think it's right or even possible to score a work of art. Video games are the 8th form and everyone is going to have a different experience with every game. Scoring is fundamentally flawed.

I've been excited about Too Human (by Silicon Knights) for a few years now. I could be labeled a Transhumanist and I'll gravitate towards any work that uses that as a theme. Building those themes around the framework of epic Norse mythology also intrigued me as a Pluralist. Needless to say I ate up any piece of info I could find on the game, pre-ordered it and eagerly awaited its release.

After many weeks of playing it through over and over, lending it to friends and checking out online opinion, I've come up with my own full impression of the game.

It's alright.

You want more? OK, well... the general consensus of gamers seem to agree on a few things. The story is good but hard to interpret if you're not familiar with Norse myth, the designs are amazing but the graphics engine is only decent, and the soundtrack is powerful but limited in scope, controls are easy but the camera sucks, and there are balancing issues with experience gathering and classes.

I won't say the game is short because it's only the first part in a trilogy. I won't harsh SK for the graphics engine because for everything but the last few months everything was build around Unreal Engine 3, but when SK and Epic came to legal blows over certain issues, SK had to build a whole new engine in a very short amount of time. Range-based combat is difficult at best and will off-put many gamers. This issue is due to not being able to quickly target the right enemy and flow easily from one target to another. So later in the second and third parts we can hopefully expect remedies to many of the problems I outlined. These issues stand as the general thoughts of the gaming community, so SK had an obligation to listen and learn.

There are some issues however that are systemic within the concept of the game. One is obviously the camera, though looking at the controls I'm not sure if we'll ever be given control, though the camera could be a little more intuitive. When I heard about SK bringing a psychologist on board for this game, I was excited about the emotions the game would evoke. Unfortunately, even though the voice acting was top-notch there was very little in the way of jerked tears or other emotional evoking being done. SK really needs to demand more from this psychologist. Doing this will help with portraying the story in a less abrasive way and hopefully convince those in charge that a larger soundtrack is necessary. The charms quest system was confusing and seemed needless, so replacing it or giving it a serious overhaul is definitely a must. and Lastly, expecting a player to play through the game four times just to begin to access top-level equipment is far too much, even when multiplayer is involved. Adding multiplayer specific side-quests or allowing you to have multiplayer-only character choices like Thor, Tyr or Freya would be a way of spicing things up.

Do I have hope for this series? Yes. I plan on pre-ordering the second and third game. But I'm worried about the rest of the community. I'm seeing a lot of returned copies of the game at the local EB. SK has to work HARD to get the community back. I'd love to see an artbook, but instead of putting it on the page only, have a book for concepts and DVD-ROM for super-high-rez models of all the models (armour, weapons, enemies, etc...) as well as a full primer to Norse myth, backstory and themes like posthuman gods. Added cinematics NOT using the in-game engine would also be a plus. Have these in a special edition for the final installment and have the case built to hold the first two games as well.


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