52 Weeks of Canadian Gaming - Week 16
Release Date: August 19, 2008
Developer: Silicon Knights
ESRB Rating: Teen
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
I really enjoy Too Human, so if you were hoping that I was going to join the bandwagon and trash this game, as so many others have done in the past, then stop reading now for you will be dissapointed. Since I began my 52 Weeks of Canadian Gaming quest, this has been my first chance to return to Asgard. I do admit that I was looking forward to taking on the role of Baldur once more in this hack & slash/role playing game from the fine folks at Silicon Knights.
Too Human is a game based loosely on Norse mythology. The summarize the entire story in one simple line; the gamer, taking on the role Baldur (the good guy), must stop Loki (the bad guy). Now that we got the story out of the way, back to the game. In Too Human, the gamer can only play as Baldur. While the selection of characters is low, the style of character the play is plentiful. Gamers will have the option of choosing from 5 different character classed for Baldur. Early in the game, Baldur will be asked to make an alignment choice. This choice, along with the selection of the character class will greatly alter how the game is played and enjoyed. Gamers should experiment with each class type to find the one that suits their preferred playing style.
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The biggest complaints against Too Human was with its very complex controls. The controls are not really complex as they can be learnt in about an hour of gaming, but 50 hours later and gamers will still be learning new tricks and techniques to improve their fighting style. This is the basics of the controls for this game. The left and right triggers are used to perform range attacks, and the right analog stick is used to perform melee attacks (and not handle the camera as in most games). When using melee attacks, Baldur can “slide” from one enemy to the next delivering a series of powerful attacks while avoiding damage by using the left anolog stick. Effective use of the slide technique can quickly clear out a room full of enemies, but it will require plenty of practice to master. The real power of Baldur comes from his combo meter. All successful attacks will increase Baldur’s combo meter, special attacks will increase it quicker than regular attacks. As the combo meter fills, it will increase in level then start filling up the next level. The combo meters will affect most stats and skills such as increasing Baldur's attack range, damage delivered, accuracy, and speed among others. The combo meter can also be used to activate special abilities or invoke special “ruiner” attacks. Having a high combo meter is essential to Baldur's survival.
In Too Human gamers do not directly control the camera. The camera will mostly look in the general direction that Baldur is facing, but when in combat it will turn to the nearest enemy. In the case of a boss battle, when the fight can last several minutes, this lack of control can cause problems and become frustrating when trying to open containers to get much needed health power-ups. I found that the pain can be alleviated by changing the camera view to ISO (pressing down on the D-Pad), and remembering that the camera view can be quickly changed to behind Baldur with the simple press of the left bumper. I have never once died in the game by cause of the camera angle, but I did come close a few times.
Too Human, like most role-playing games, is a stat driven game. Baldur has base stats depending on his current level and character class, but these can be modified by weapons and armour. The various weapons can also be modified by runes and charms. New weapons and armour may be purchased from different NPC (as blueprints), but most of them will be found as item drops from fallen enemies. Every item in the game will vary in stats depending on rarity of the item. Common items will contain no stat modifiers, while rare items can contain several beneficial modifiers. Elite items, rarest drop in the game, are extremely powerful and can turn any warrior into an unstoppable killing machine. Mind you these items are extremely rare. I have played the game from start to finish over 3 times and only have four Elite items to show for it (three weapons and one helmet). Some weapons and armour will contain slots. These slots allow the gamer to insert runes to further enhance it’s attributes. Unused items can be salvaged for money to allow the creation of desired items.
As Baldur increases in levels (done by defeating enemies), he will be granted skill points that can be used to improve various skills, in turn which will modify his stats. Baldur has many skills to choose from varing on the character class choosen. The distribution of skill points should be based on the gamer's preferred gaming style. It would not make sense to add skill points to range weapons if your preferred game style is melee. The good news is that nothing is set in stone. Skill trees can be reset for a fee. Some skill are always enabled, while other will be activated by a button press.
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The graphics in Too Human are very nice. There was plenty of concern during the very public Silicon Knights vs. Epic drama that without the Unreal engine the visual appeal of the game would suffer. Do not fear, the game features plenty of eye candy. The only real issue with the graphics is some noticeable clipping. The valkyrie animation was the most glaring demonstration of this (maybe because I got to see her quite often). When the valkyrie descended to pick up Baldur lifeless body, she would sink ankle deep in whatever structure Baldur was laying on. More of a concern that the graphics of the clipping was the highly repetitive level design and lack of enemy variety. None of these are real game breaking issues, just annoyances that could have been prevented, or corrected since the game’s release.
One much criticized aspect of the game was they dying animation. Each time Baldur dies; a valkyrie will descend and carry his body to Valhalla, which will revive him (he is a god after all). The entire process takes about 20 seconds to complete. The real problem is that Baldur will die often so gamers can expect to see this animation over and over again with no way to skip it. To some this was a game breaker, to me, this was a breather allowing me time to figure out how to tackle whatever killed me.
The game is plenty fun to play as a single player, but an absolute blast when playing co-op with another gamer. Each player can bring his/her special abilities and skills to the table combining attacks to mow down enemies and cause massive destruction.
Since I first played and reviewed Too Human, my opinion of this game has not changed, it is an absolute joy to play. The game is not without problems but the shear fun of the game is undeniable and one that I will be enjoying for a long time to come. I just hope that the Too Human trilogy will see completion.