Review by ApochWeiss
"If I spent 10 years on this, I'd just be embarassed right now..."
Supposedly 10 years in the making, Silicon Knight's very small catalogue has been expanded once again with the inclusion of the XBox 360 exclusive title "Too Human". This proclaimed three part mini series has you taking on the role of Baldur, a god within the Aesir, who needs to save humanity from "freakin' huge" robots, dark elves, and other creatures that enjoy feasting on human blood.
Essentially, what you have here is a next generation dungeoun-based game. Many people proclaim this release to be on par with greats such as Diablo II, but the similarities are few and far between. This game was reveared as something that would possibly change gaming, hyped up beyond belief by press and loyal fans alike. At the 2008 E3 convention, Silicon Knights brought a playable demo to the table, lasting roughly an hour and a half. That demo was later released on the XBox 360 marketplace, and it quickly grabbed a lot of gamers attention. However, comparing the full length game to the actual demo, you will find that the demo was, infact, more enjoyable.
Too Human consists of four levels. Yes, you heard right, only four levels to explore, meaning, really, only four bosses for this chapter of the series. However, each level gets progressively harder, and substantially longer. The same can even be said about the boss fights, which essentially just seem to take forever just to even get anywhere in them.
However, Silicon Knights did bring some interesting ideas to the table with this game. One has to admit that the ability to use the right stick on the controller to swing your sword in the respected direction just sounds fun, which it can be when you are not getting your butt handed to you by swarms of creatures, trolls, snipers, etc., all at once. However, that is where the co-op aspect comes into play. The difficulty is roughly the same, but having the second Baldur definitely helps clear the stage faster. But there in lies a paradox: Can there truly be two baldurs at the same time? Since there was an inclusion of co-op mode, wouldn't it have been a brilliant idea to include some kind of character customization outside of the armor? The option to make Baldur a girl, or change skin tones (since the cast of the game happens to have no variations at all). You can, however, buy runes to stick in your armor and weaponry to change the entire weapon's color, or a very small strip on it.
Really, there aren't many redeeming qualities for this game. Ok, so the game play can be fun if you're not dying within one or two shots from broken armor, as well as slaying these abominations with buddy in hand, especially if he's a wise cracking stereotypical kind of guy. Then the random remarks you once thought to be rather off color will seem hysterical and help break up the monotony. But there are other aspects that gamers take very seriously, and many of them prove to be a problem.
While unsatisfied consumers sit and wait for a patch to address some of these issues, these individuals are stuck with rather irritating common sense mistakes, as well as poor programming and direction. First off all, the camera work in this game is borderline atrocious. You have a few settings for it such as "back" (which puts the camera in a supposedly steady position behind Baldur) and "far" (which moves the camera back even further). However, often the camera will just suddenly turn when you happen to move. Or, worse yet, won't move at all and stay in a static position away from the direction you are looking, causing you to hit RB to center the camera, and ultimately be jumped by enemies. There are also times, such as roughly half way through the Hall Of Heros, where the camera will simply go atop of Baldur and make you feel as though you loaded a PlayStation 2 sequel to the gaming series Loaded.
The poor camera also doesn't help with the controls at all. Since you are battling practically hordes of enemies at once, it was perhaps the best idea to have the camera move during the battle, and have the controls shift along with the camera. That way, your attacks do not hit the enemy, and you take more damage. Brilliant! There are also times during the game where, even though the tutorial states that holding down RB and using the right stick you can look around, you simply cannot look around using the described method, let alone the fact that often, when you press RB, the camera will not center behind you.
Graphically, Too Human is ok. There are some frame rate issues, and sometimes when characters move, they walk in a rather choppy manner. However, some of the finer things stand out and simply look astounding, such as the glasses on your fellow gods that can read computer code, certain characters random color shifting eyes, and the blue electronics that adorn Baldur's battle scarred head, all of these during the cut scenes. The actual game play graphics, however, look as though this is a PlayStation 2 or XBox game ported to the 360 and just upconverted to HD. Especially the equipment interface, which is a total failure all it's own.
The equipment interface that can be access through the pause menu is basically the 360's worst nightmare. It looks like something that was developed for the first PlayStation console, updated for possible use with another Silicon Knights game, then just upgraded to HD for this 360 release. It's unresponsive, and even with one item, can take anywhere between five seconds to five minutes for the screen to load, and this is not an overexaggeration. Well, ok, maybe three minutes, the point remains! Granted the character model has to adorn the armor or weapons, but when you are looking at the Rune interface, and you have only one or two, it shouldn't take three minutes to load, and then not allow you to switch between the runes for a moment if more then one. Plus, the character model itself, along with armor and weaponry, simply look like it was designed for the PlayStation 1.
And anyone who happens to live in an apartment, keep the remote control handy. Not only will the audio make you pull your hair out, but it will also aggrivate the neighbors. After hearing this through many HD television sets without a fancy surround sound system, it became clear that something was wrong. The audio during cut scenes is rather low, and the battle sound effects (if still at the volume level from the cut scene) is obnoxiously loud, and enough to wake anyone up near by. But you might as well just keep the volume down since most, if not all the voice acting in this game is sub par. The best voice acting, however, had to be during the scene when Thor happens to fall while on a bridge (don't worry, it's not a spoiler, but what happens next will more then likely aggrivate you more then the one character who is nothing more then a talking head), and the voice actor begins to do the lamest "I dont' want to die" voice acting ever recorded.
One other problem that seems to occur would be random death, whether it be because of an enemy strike you are nowhere near, or just by standing still all alone for a few seconds, there's a risk that you'll just suddenly die. We're talking without being hit by polarity enemies here. This was tested on more then one copy of the game, so it's not as though it was just some sort of defect on the single disc.
All in all, the game has so great ideas. The story line blends in norse mythology with some science fiction/fantasy of today as far as literature goes, even if it detours from the original lore. The ability to swing a sword, staff or hammer with the right stick is definitely an entertaining way to fight, and the runes/charms system definitely beats finding random accessories. The levels are long, which at times could be a good thing if you just wish to run a co-op match, or relax and game, with one map to clear it out. Even those hellbent on getting 1000/1000 will be happy to know that it will just take time to obtain all the achievements, and not a lot of hardcore gaming skill.
However there are way too many faults to look past, including the fact that this simply looks and often operates like it was a last generation game ported to a current generation console, which often will frustrate the gamer to the point of balding. If the demo left you craving the game, definitely grab Too Human as a rental first, and feel it from there, since you will complete the story line of this chapter within two days, depending on how much of a life you have outside of video gaming.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 09/02/08
Game Release: Too Human (US, 08/19/08)
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