Review by Maxx Power

"A console RPG? Designed for the PC? That actually uses the PC's abilities to full use, and makes a good game? Surely not?"

Yes it does. Severance is one of those games, which comes out for the PC, looks like it should be on a PS2, let alone a PC, yet still manages to create a wonderfully superb, action RPG experience like no other.

What makes Severance stand out from all other games of its type is the part that most developers tend to leave out in this kind of game. The fighting.

Heralding back to the days of the side-on beat-em-up's on the mega drive and snes, the four characters in the game all come included with their own personal set of 'combo's'. By which I mean special maneuvers that make Olympic gymnasts look like old grannies, that can be linked together for utterly devastating effect. A large right hand chop can be coupled immediately after with a leg sweep, followed by a huge swing to the head. However, you might think that Rebel Act may decide to use that awful burden of action RPG's, the keyboard, and supply you with a thousand and one buttons to press, but no. In a move towards the laymen, every single attack, dodge, and block, can be done using only the two mouse buttons, the cursor keys, and a few other buttons around the keyboard. This method of working shows that, if you do it right, you can keep it simple.

Story? What Story? The game has something to do with El Shakara wanting to bring the destruction of Borgnar, or Chuncula, or some farfetched place with a meaningless apostrophe in the middle. Just pretend your Jean Claude Van Dam in ''Viking Warriors Part Deux'' and you'll do fine, thought minus the naked chicks.

Graphic wise, it has to be said this is a very realistic game. Its not because of any large, ornate buildings (though they are there), or any super detailed, bump mapped, models. It's because of, well, what's a sensitive way of putting this? The realistic blood and decapitation system. ''Excuse me?'' I hear you say. Well, if you go to chop someone's head off, that's exactly what you'll do. Then the head will roll around for a while, spreading blood across the walls, before finally coming to rest on a set of stairs, before a small trickle of blood begins to work its way down the steps. Then you can pick it up and use it as a weapon. This game is not for the faint of heart.

As mentioned before, the gameplay is truly fantastic. Every enemy is just as set out with devastating combos and attacks, and more than three enemies at a time will probably see you off. Right now is a good time to mention the AI, which is incredibly good, considering the age of this game (then again, those half-life grunts...). You pull off a move, they'll most likely dodge it, then run past, before swinging their offensive weapon towards your head, and by then your trying to attack again, but they've already countered it. I'm not sure whether it is a HELL of a lot of scripting, or whether it is true, combat based AI. Lets hope for the latter.

However, this game is not without fault, and there are some major ones. Firstly, although the levels are well set out, you can sometime be disorientated by where you are, not too sure where to go next, running around in circles to find something to fight, only to find that that hole you were avoiding falling down was the way to go. Also, it is worth pointing out that, although the AI is good, it's perhaps too good at times. A warning to you all, this game is NOT for newcomers.It can take weeks, as you reload a save for the hundredth time, trying desperately to kill off them few orcs. Plus the lack of plot or character development, means that you feel that there's no reason to go from one fight to the next, that you're simple killing these people for the sake of killing them, to level up and finally use that new combo you've been dying to use. Then there's the bugs, too many to mention here, but I'll say this. Beware the stairs

Despite this, Severance does what it's designed to do, and that's take the action part of action RPG, and make it so good you could see it as platinum. However, the term RPG shouldn't really be associated with this title. This game is about unmitigated violence on a grand scale, coupled with excellent battle moments that makes something like ''Nightmare Creatures'' look like ''The Tweenies in happy land''. Its also absolute bargain, with at least 60 hours of gameplay, that's for each character, along with hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of combos to master, this budget title is definitely something for the less fortunate out there.

Blood, gore, goblins, fighting, blokes in spandex, Arnold Schwartzanigger and severed limbs, that's this game in a nut shell. Buggy, very hard, and mindless, but hey, 79% of games players are guys, and this is a guy's game, so who's complaining?

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/30/01, Updated 12/30/01

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