Platform: Xbox 360
Developer – Silicon Knights
Publisher - Microsoft
Online Co-op: 2
The story of Too Human is based off of the ancient Norse mythologies of Odin, Thor, Loki, Freya and the rest of the Pantheon of Gods. Silicon Knights have taken some creative liberty with this and put their own spin on the myths. The game’s main story focuses on the idea that the magic that the gods were believed to posses was not magic at all, but instead was advanced technology that was at their disposal. It is with the god Baldur, the second son of Odin and the Champion of the Humans, that we explore the worlds of the Aesir in which the game is set.
Playing through the game I did not find the graphics to be horrible, however they were definitely not of the same caliber as I have come to expect from Xbox 360 titles, especially those being released at this point in its life cycle. On a positive note, it may be as a result of these less than perfect graphics that the game did not slowdown during battle scenes in which there could be fifty or more monsters on the screen at once. The game also sported quick loading times between levels and cut scenes. Speaking of cut scenes, they looked as though they utilized the same engine that powers the game, and not pre-rendered CGI. These were hit and miss given that in some instances they looked really good, while other instances they looked somewhat unfinished as the feet of characters did not look like they were even on the ground (e.g. floaty) or that the animation was not as fluid as it could have been. During my gameplay experience I also found that there was very little clipping. Don’t get me wrong, it did rear its ugly head now and then, but overall it was not as problematic at I thought it might be.
I was a little disappointed with the enemies in Too Human as they were cookie cutter versions of themselves with only a few variations to distinguish them. Personally, I would have liked to have seen more variety in this area instead of the game trying to distinguish them by either making out their name, colour or ability.
The weapons and armour that Baldur collects and uses were all well designed and looked fantastic on him once equipped. I found that the attention to colors and the little details on the armor and weapons made everything mesh together and was visually pleasing. Should you wish to personalize these items you do have the ability to buy ‘color runes’, which when applied to each item it colors certain areas providing a bit of personalization. I know that our Editor-in-Chief sure liked to use a green very similar to the Xbox 360 shade.
The music is well selected and really sets the mood and atmosphere as you explore the levels of Too Human. It managed to match the on-screen action quite well, which in turn added to the experience of the game. As for the voice acting, it too is quite solid and the voice of Baldur is exceptional. Silicon Knights even focused on the small details in this area as I found that there was voice acting when you were exploring the Hall of Heroes (home planet) as various characters would be talking about events in the game as you walked by them. It was a nice little touch and added to the atmosphere of the game in front of me.
On a bit of a negative side, the soldiers that accompany Baldur throughout the game repeat the same phrases over and over and it can get on your nerves after while. Their witty repartee you hear at first makes you chuckle but with repeated exposure it gets old. In the end, I began having daydreams of shooting them instead of the hordes of enemy running at you with a vengeance.
One thing I would have added to the game is the option for in-game subtitles. It was often difficult to hear the voices of the characters during play because the volume setting for both was not always consistent. While playing I ended up missing some portions of the storyline as I found myself reaching for the remote control to turn the volume back up after having turned it down during a battle.
As for the rest of the sound effects, I would have to say that they were pretty well done. From the sounds of your bladed weapon cutting through hoards of enemies to the explosions of ballistics, each and every sound really added to the battle that you were engaged in. I also have to add that if you have a surround sound system, it will get a workout as the Dolby Digital encoding is really strong. Another staffer who played the game noted that his subwoofer in his media room really fired out some low bass during his time playing.
In Too Human you have the choice of five different character classes. These are Champion, Commando, Defender, Bioengineer and Berserker. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Champion is well balanced, and can use both missile and melee weapons fairly well. On the other hand, the Commando is adapt with missile weapons, weak with melee weapons and has lower armor while the Berserker is strong with melee weapons, weak with missile weapons and his armor is stronger. It is really up to your style of gameplay that will determine which character class you want to play as. During the story you are also asked to choose an alignment you wish to side with, Human or Cybernetics. This adds even more choice for your character.
I am torn between my like and dislike of the character controls of Too Human. On one hand, the melee controls are unique from most other games in this genre in the sense that you use the right analog stick to control your melee weapons. On the other hand, it can be a bit of a task at times to get them to do exactly what you want them to. During gameplay, I sometimes felt that mindless motion of the right analog stick in random directions would be more successful and much less frustrating than focusing on actual tactics. The game offers a wide variety of melee weapons from swords, which are the fastest, to hammers and staves. You are also able to ‘juggle’ your enemies in the air too which can be quite rewarding.
I found an effective tactic in fighting the large mobs of monsters was to attack and lure the creatures from a distance. Along with the melee weapons, you also have a wide variety of missile weapons to assist you in your adventure. You can choose between pistols, rifles and cannons if you choose to follow the cybernetic alignment. Each weapon type has their advantages, but I preferred the cannons because of their long range capability and the extensive damage they did. However, the cannons limit your range of movements and can slow your character down significantly. The pistols are quick and can be dual wielded and the rifles are overall a decent weapon and even come equipped with a grenade launcher. As with the melee weapons, you can put an enemy in the air and keep him up there with sustained fire of your weapon.
In addition to the weapon selection available, Baldur also has several other abilities, items and moves at his disposal which can provide an edge in battle when you need it most. As you progress through the levels, Baldur will eventually acquire a robotic spider loaded with different abilities depending on your class and the skill tree you select. This can range anywhere from turrets, land mines, bombs, and shields. The turrets are fun to position throughout a level in order to distract the enemy. You can also choose to drop mines and watch creatures explode as they fly through the air which I found quite amusing. Baldur also posses his Battle Cries which will boost your damage inflicted during combat.
By far, some of the coolest abilities Baldur has are Ruiners. These are special attacks that are best used when you are surrounded by enemies. These enemies will suffer damage as the radius of your Ruiner affects all within it. To obtain the best damage rate for these moves it is best to build up your combo meter as high as you can. The combo meter is dependent on your how many successive hits you get and how much damage you put out during your fight. Bottomline, the higher your combo meter, the bigger the boom. Ruiners are also dependant on the class you have selected. For example, with the Cybernetic alignment your Ruiner will be based on the weapons you are using and with the Human Alignment your Ruiner will be a spiritual based.
Too Human has thousands of pieces of equipment that you can find through blueprints, obelisks, and enemy drops once they are vanquished. Blueprints are designs for weapons and armour that are rarer than the other pieces of equipment you may find throughout a level. You must pay to have these ‘crafted’ but some are definitely worth it. You can use these blueprints to create weapons and armour either in the Hall of Heroes or while in the field of battle. If a piece of weapon, armor or charm has an empty rune slot, you can enhance that item with runes. The runes vary greatly in enhancement features and it is best to choose runes that will benefit your item by matching up the runes with the specific types of equipment they are best suited for. You can increase your health, your armor, your weapon strength, your dodging ability and even your mood to name a few things.
A notable issue I had with the game was how long it took to equip new items, check blueprints, apply runes, and sell off the items you didn’t need. Often I would spend up to 20 minutes going through all the new items I had acquired and equipping them multiple times within a level to ensure Baldur always had the best of the best. This issue could have been easily resolved with an Optimal Equip button; significantly reducing the time it took to go through the items to find the best equipment for Baldur. This is not a deal breaker, just something you’ll need to endure quite a few times through gameplay.
Too Human also offers a two-player cooperative mode that can be played online. Here the host can choose from levels that he/she has opened during single play and how enemy drops are distributed between the players. When you play online the game is slightly different in a couple of ways. The first is that there will be areas within the open levels that you did not see or play in when going solo. The second is that enemies are different on the level and you will find the challenge a little tougher. These two differences are a nice touch as it adds a bit more variety to the game then just going through he exact same levels that you did in single player.
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