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Review: ‘Too Human’

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After spending nearly a decade in development, it’s no surprise that Silicon Knights’ action-RPG “Too Human” has managed to generate some rather high expecations. But now that the game has finally arrived, the question remains — was it worth the wait?

Though it will certainly leave some gamers disappointed, those who can check their preconceived notions at the door will find an enjoyable experience that is certainly worth checking out.

In “Too Human” gamers assume the role of Baldur, a cybernetically enhanced god whose purpose in life is to protect humanity. The story is steeped in Norse mythology and science fiction, with the end result feeling like a combination of “The Matrix” and “Beowulf.” Unfortunately, the narrative is poorly told and, at times, downright confusing due to a complete lack of backstory. The developers should have done a better job of filling in some of the key plot elements.

Thankfully the gameplay is entertaining enough to make you forget about the convoluted story.”Too Human” is, at its heart, a hack-n-slash dungeon crawler in the vein of “Diablo.” After choosing from one of five different character classes, you begin your quest and set forth dispatching hordes of robotic trolls, goblins and elves.

Combat is handled with the right analog stick, a formula that works well for melee attacks. Flicking the stick toward an enemy will initiate a strike — there are no tricky combo patterns to remember. However, ranged combat does not translate nearly as well. When a ranged weapon like a rifle or pistol is equipped, the right analog stick is used to aim while the left and right triggers fire. Aiming with the right analog stick is an exercise in frustration as there is no easy way to pick your target. Trying to target a particular foe in the heat of battle is useless. You’re better off running into a group of enemies headlong and inflicting as much damage as possible before you respawn.

That’s right, respawn. In a strange design decision, you never die in “Too Human,” at least not in the videogame sense. Instead, when your character exhausts all of his hit points, a Valkyrie comes down from the heavens and carries you to Valhalla. The game then resumes from the point you died and any damage you may have inflicted on an enemy remains intact. Some gamers are sure to judge this as a game-killing flaw, but considering the absurd odds you’re faced with and the staggering number of times you’ll die (the game actually awards you an Achievement for dying 100 times), I can see why the developers chose to go this route. My only problem with the respawn system is that you can’t skip the cutscene involving the Valkyrie. It only lasts 10 seconds or so, but considering how often you’ll see it, that time adds up.

The camera can also be problematic, though it’s certainly not a game-killer. “Too Human” also offers online coop play through Xbox Live, but you can’t play through the story with a buddy. Again, an odd design choice.

One area in which “Too Human” shines is its character customization. As you defeat enemies, you’ll gather loot like weapons or armor. And there is a seemingly endless amount of loot to be had. Toss in the ability to create custom gear from blueprints you find and you’ve got an incredibly deep customization system. Some of the most fun I had with “Too Human” was trying to find the coolest looking armor for my character.

Despite all of its problems, “Too Human” remains an absolute blast to play. It is the type of game that sucks you in and holds your attention for hours at a time. If collecting a ton of stuff and slaughtering thousands of bad guys sounds like your idea of a good time, “Too Human” is definitely for you. The wait for “Too Human” was long, but it was certainly worth it.

Score: 7.9/10