Too Human: The Scratch for My Itch But I Wish it Was More.
I have a big confession to make (*Cue Audience Gasp*). I am a huge geek. To be honest, working in the Information Technology industry, being a geek or a nerd is a must. If you weren’t you would go batshit insane and try to wear someones head as you drove around the country.
I’m not a Star Trek geek, those guys are total losers (Ed note: Hey, I’m gay for old Kirk you bastard — X). I enjoyed Star Trek: The Next Generation just like every other person; I thought Patrick Stewart was great as the captain of the Enterprise. However, I am what you would call a cyberpunk geek, which is probably worse now that I think about it.
When I say I am a cyberpunk geek, let me define that. I have the regular and special editions of all three Matrix movies, and the Animatrix DVD. I’ve got Johnny Mnemonic on DVD, that sits next to my Hackers special edition along with about 30+ different types of cyberpunk-based Japanese anime such as Ghost in the Shell.
My hardcopy library is filled to the brim with books by William Gibson and old PC games like Deus Ex. I’ve got a copy of Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson that sits near my bed next to a couple of Robert A. Heinlein books and Frank Herbert’s Dune that looks like some dog chewed it up and shat it out. In other words, I am a huge Cyberpunk Geek.
I tell you this, not to scare you away by my geekiness but to let you know that I have a huge cyberpunk itch that rarely ever, EVER gets scratched by anything remotely resembling a video game. Let me tell you now, after playing Too Human for about 8 hours straight last night after picking it up at best buy with money from house sitting that Too Human most definitely scratched that itch.
The combat and Camera system that Silicon Knights setup, however, makes me want to scream and throw my controller.
Note, here’s your spoiler warning and all that.
To begin with, let me start out with the parts about Too Human that I found to be great. The game has two basic modes. Campaign and Co-Op. Campaign has you playing as Baldur who depending on what ‘class’ you choose at your character creation allows you to play with either a melee focus (Berserker and Defender), a balanced approach (Champion), or as support (Engineer/Explosives Class and Healer Class,not their actual names, I just forgot the names and was too lazy to look it up). A nice touch is that characters you create for Campaign mode are easily taken into online mode and everything you do in Co-Op translates over to Campaign and vice versa.
Each of the classes provides their own strengths and weaknesses to both campaign soloing and Co-op group efforts. Sadly though, what really ends up happening is that the front-line classes (Your Berserkers, Guardians and Champions) end up working very well with the storyline but the Support Classes are pretty much Co-Op only if you want to have any chance of surviving past the first level. Whats worse, the computer controlled wolf and bear infantry units which accompany throughout the game suck at what they were doing that having them along is about as usefull as having talking canon fodder. These guys are not the type of guys you want at your back in a firefight. The retardness factor is of epic proportions. Trying to play through campaign with the two support classes is almost impossible unless your character is beefed out. Which sort of defeats the purpose of playing Campaign with a support class i guess.
The storyline from what I have seen so far is fantastic. Silicon Knights has done a rather excellent job of blending the elements of cyberpunk and general cyber-fiction with Norse mythology. The story seemed at first to be a little disjointed however, i found that sitting through the opening cinema all the way to the end helped me to understand what was going on immensely. The music which at times reminds me very much of the music from 13th warrior (a very strong Horn presence in both the movie and the game) is epic. Not quite say from Gladiator or 300 quality but up there. The music changes when enemies appear going from slow melodic mood music to fast pace ‘oh-shit-enemies’ or ‘oh-shit-cutscene’ the changes can be somewhat abrupt but usually the transition works out really well from scene to scene.
Plot wise, The story is rather simplistic which is what you sort of expect from video games. There are two warring factions, The Aesir (who as far as I know having played up to the ice forest as both a berserker class and the engineer support class) are the good guys. The aesir represent the Norse Gods. Within the first hour or so you meet Baldur of course, plus Heimdal, Freya, Thor, Loki and a host of others. The bad guys are known as the Fallen. The Fallen are led by Hel, a somewhat disturbingly hot women despite all of her cybernetics showing (the Fallen have a slightly creepy tendency to not have a lot of flesh on their bodies so that their cybernetics show…a lot). The Aeisr fight the Fallen in order to protect humanity, blah blah blah, whackity smackity doo.
Up until the start of the game, The Fallen have kept Baldur (your character) locked up in some type of stasis, how long you were in that state isn’t quite given, but the dialogue between characters implies years. The story begins when one of the Aesir Gods rescues Baldur and returns with him to back to the Aesir capital, this breach of fallen territories, forces a dissolution of the non-aggression pact between the Fallen and the Aesir. This of course jump-starts the Fallen/Aesir war all over again.
I won’t go into more plot details. This was only a brief summary of the opening movie that plays before you get to the main menu.
The art/character design for this game is fantastic. I once heard rumor that the guy who did some of the concept design work for the film Aliens (the one with all the marines) worked on Too Human. I don’t know if this is true, but the vehicle designs really show a strong influence from that movie. The aircraft with the roller coaster type seating, the fast moving ground vehicles which are set really low to the ground and are almost gliding, are what really gave me this impression. I would be actually surprised if the Concept Artist/Designer from Aliens wasn’t working with them.
Now that I’ve told you what I love, let me tell you what I hate…the control scheme and combat. It’s not like the ‘I-can’t-do-fucking-anything-god-dammit-this-sucks’ kind of suck, but more along the lines of ‘how-do-i-do-shit-wait-I-did-something-how-do-I-do-it-again?’ kind of suck. You’re basically told when you start that left and right triggers fire your guns, A jumps, and you move your right stick to swing your sword. that’s it.
Only one problem, they tell you this as your being jumped by 10 to 15 cybernetic goblins. Yeah.. I died a lot the first few times I played. It took me a bit to get the combat system down. After struggling through Two Worlds, I feel like I can handle just about any game with a sub par combat system. I believe i mentioned above about the crap AI teammates. Well let me tell you, The enemy? is just as bad except they target you. Nobody else. I could be standing at the back of the line and everything bee lines straight for me rather then my AI teammates.
Lets move onto the game’s camera system…
Jesus Jumping H Christ on a pogo-stick! How can you guys (i refer to Silicon Knights of course) get away with programming such a crappy camera? I mean, something this bad should have been a red flag on day one. The only Camera Control we are given is through the D-pad which depending on whether we press Up/Down or Left/Right (can not remember of the top of my head) the camera is cycled in and out through three or four viewing modes and lets not forget trusty Left Shoulder Button which centers the camera behind your character. That’s it, there’s absolutely no camera rotation what-so-ever! now you might be thinking, well its a hack and slash and your in open environments what can be so wrong? well if your in a open arena pit trying to run away from a giant Grendel while simultaneously trying to whirl around and fire your cannons alternate fire (grenade launcher for the win) because your low on health and don’t want to go Mano-El-Robotic-Monster. Only to have the cannon fire towards the camera therefor blocking your view as you run towards the camera away from monster-that-wants-to-eat-your-face.
When fighting with explosives and guns Silicon System built in a weird target system thats based on a locking on methodology. The locking on method means that a auto-lock kicks in whenever you start shooting at a monster. Which works great untill you killed the target and your still fireing. Your now killing a corpse. The game suggest you use the right stick early on to switch targets. However, pressing the Right Stick left or right cause your character to turn 90 degress to the left or right while firing or causes your character to melee to the left or the right if you let off the trigger. Took me an hour to figure out that you have to push up or down on the right stick to get auto target to target a new bad guy. Something not very handy when your firing at 4 or 5 guys at a time. However, to give them credit. having unlimitted ammo is a nice touch and relatively fast reloads. having a small ammo clip however is not a nice touch.
Another issue i have with the combat is the usage of the X and Y buttons. They are useless until a few hours into the game. That is of course you get enough skill points to open up the spider and battle-roar (I believe that what they are called) abilities. Also, it may seem trivial but I don’t like how Baldur walks, his arms stick out way too much. That last one is just a personal pet peeve, it’s okay if you guys want to disagree with me on that.
I will say this, most of the flaws in the game are minor next to the huge colossal fuck up that’s called this game’s camera system. lets hope for a nice big usability patch from silicon in the near future. something thats labeled “I’m-sorry-This-Is-Shit-We-Should-Have-Fixed-In-The-Beta-Testing”
Please forgive my apparent negativity, I still think this game rocks and really do enjoy the campaign and co-op modes. To anyone who’s a huge fan of Norse mythology or cyberpunk, this game is a real must-buy, or if you’re cheap go for a rental. But at least get it right away (Ed note: Before the other sites have you believe this game isn’t any good– X). The cyberpunk influences really start to shine through once you’re past the first few minutes of the game and you get to meet the Nords and then between the first and second levels when your in the city.
My opinion: If you like cyberpunk or Norse mythology, buy it! If not, at least rent it.