Tech News on G4
'Too Human' too addictive
August 26, 2008
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
'Too Human' too addictive
The following is a game review for the new Xbox 360-exclusive action game 'Too Human'. It isn't a review of the development cycle of the game. It isn't a review of the developers who made the game at Silicon Knights, and it most certainly isn't a review of Silicon Knights' president and current whipping boy of gamers the world over, Denis Dyack.
Because at the end of the day, Too Human is a video game like any other. You sit down, put the disc in the tray, press buttons and move a joystick around, and hopefully get some enjoyment out of it in the process.
Is Too Human, in fact, enjoyable though? The answer is yes. In fact, it's another solid title that Silicon Knights can put on its resume. It's not as original as Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and not as good as Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, but it is a solid third-person action game that becomes downright addictive once its story really gets going.
That story revolves around Baldur, a cybernetically-enhanced member of the Aesir, a group of gods who exist to protect humanity from the Children of Ymir, a race of machines that want nothing more than to destroy every human in existence.
The plot takes Baldur across the Earth, in a future where a nuclear winter has forced the remaining human survivors to live in a safe haven known as Midgard. As such, much of the game takes place over barren, snow-covered wastelands as the Aesir hunt down the Children of Ymir.
The best way to describe Too Human in a few short words is as a dungeon crawler. There is more to it than that, but what much of the game comes down to is killing hordes of enemies, picking up a ton of loot, and constantly powering up your character as the enemies themselves become more powerful as well.
Controlling Baldur is dead simple. You move him with the left analog stick, use his melee weapon with the right analog stick, and shoot ranged weapons with the left and right triggers. A lot of current third-person action games use the right analog stick to control the camera, but it shouldn't take any gamer above the age of five more than a few minutes to make the correlation between 'right analog stick - melee weapon'.
Too Human incorporates a camera system that does most of the work for the gamer. For instance, if you're in the middle of a large battle and are hacking away up close with a melee weapon, the camera will zoom in tighter to your character. On the other hand, if you're shooting at distant enemies with a laser, the camera will automatically zoom out, giving you a look at what's far ahead of you. You can centre the camera behind your character at any time by hitting the left bumper, and you can change the overall camera style by pressing up or down on the d-pad (whether it be, near, far, or anything in between depending on your style of play). It takes a bit of getting used to, but for the most part, this new style of camera work is easy to play with and only ocassionally shows hiccups.
The combat itself is easy to learn and quite simply, a lot of fun. Considering how many enemies there are to take on, it rarely gets boring taking out wave after wave of bad guys. Most of the enemies are of course machines, but these machines range from your typical machine-gun/sword fodder, to hulking, armor-clad bohemoths. You'll constantly be powering up and unlocking new weapons and abilities, so there's a surprising amount of depth to the many of the battles as you try to take on more and more enemies at once, with many later battles involving several types of bad guys - a lot of which are much, much bigger than you are.
And it's this constant powering up that is another reason Too Human has such an addictive nature to it. Just about every other enemy you take down leaves something behind, whether it be a new piece of armor, a new set of guns, or just a stack of money. It's nearly impossible to keep track of everything you acquire (just stand near it, and it'll get sucked toward your character - nice!), but it's easy to tell when you get something really good because of the orchestral audio cues that sound, alerting you of your newfound wealth. Going into the menu to outfit your character and check his stats is thoroughly overwhelming at first, but after an hour of fooling around with things, you'll be poring over stats faster than a hockey fan at a fantasy draft.
Though every Too Human player's main character will have the same Baldur face, nearly every other part of their body will be customizable, from helmets and chestplates to boots and, of course, weapons. You can use items called runes to change the colour of everything (for those who just HAVE to have matching outfits!) and there are also items and abilities that can be upgraded, including a helpful little spider-bot that sits on your back and comes out to fry enemies with a powerful laser or blast them with a frozen blast.
If you're bored playing Too Human, you're doing something wrong.
Though most battle situations in the game have you fighting alongside some pretty useless soldiers, you can always hop on Xbox Live and join a friend for some co-op play. The co-op play itself is seamless, meaning players can jump in and out at a moment's notice - no need to play through an entire campaign with the same person, at the same time.
The main problems with Too Human involve the storyline. As with so many overambitious games these days, it becomes a little too bloated and confusing for its own good. Worst of all is the ending. Granted, this is the first part of a trilogy, but the Halo 2-esque ending didn't leave us wanting more - it left us feeling downright cheated. The replayability is questionable as well. When you finish the game, you can start back at the beginning again with the same character you finished the game with - same experience level, same weapons, same everything. It makes the beginning of the game too easy, and though there are a few sections of the game where you can take branching paths, it's still pretty much the same battles all over again.
Another weak point is the graphics. In game, it looks quite nice, especially in the later levels, but the cutscenes look downright horrible and nowhere close to the caliber of games currently out on the 360.
The sound, on the other hand, makes up for the visual shortcomings. The score moves from orchestral to heavy metal-like depending on the stage and situation, and the voice acting is quite good, despite some truly over-the-top dialogue that the voice actors have to deliver.
As a complete package, Too Human makes for an above-average summer game and a great primer for the next two titles in the series. It luckily doesn't try to be too many things at once, and what it does, it does quite well. It may not be a giant leap forward for Silicon Knights, but it definitely isn't a step backward either.
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