Review: Too Human -- Part II of II

Filed under: , by: Grundy the Man

And thus, the Too Human review draws to a close...

Any successful role playing game hinges on the depth of customization. Each player needs to get the feeling that they have designed a character that is one-of-a-kind. This is an area where Too Human thrives. As mentioned in Part I of the review, each character class has its own unique skill tree. The skill tree can be defined however the player sees fit. Most likely these characteristics have been customized to best compliment techniques that the player uses most frequently. When nodes of the skill tree are maxed out, special moves, enhancements and modifications are unlocked.

Further contributing to the personalization of the main character, there are countless different armors, weapons, and power-ups that are unlocked throughout the process of completing the game. Early on Baldur has a very generic look and feel, but as soon as the first mission is completed, the customization of armors and special powers become a large priority. Through this mechanic, players can become more invested in seeing their character through to the end of the game. In this regard, Too Human is unquestionably successful.

Returning to the gameplay, interspersed throughout each battlefield are wells that give you access to cyberspace. In Too Human, cyberspace is an alternate reality, where manipulations that you perform, are reflected in the real world. For example, if the player where to pick up a rock and throw it through a closed door in cyberspace, a door would be opened in the real world. Like most of the game's mechanics, cyberspace powers are increased as the story goes along, giving the player more options for interacting with the environment.

The cyberspace wells don't really make a lot of sense to the flow of the game. This may have been an instance where the designer just wanted to break the monotony of battle, testing the player with a puzzle. If this is in fact the justification, the designers have failed miserably. Not only do the puzzles fail to be challenging, they lack the thought and direction necessary to make the alternate reality even remotely interesting.

A second gigantic flaw in the game design is the liberal use of the invisible walls. It makes no sense to have an artist take the time to draw and render out a part of the map that is inaccessible to the player. There is nothing worse then following what most would assume to be the correct path, only to end up having forward progression stopped by a seemingly magical, invisible force field. This is the new console generation and apparently Silicon Knights missed the whole, if you can see it, you should be able to go there memo.

Though the combat system is a refreshing innovation, worthy of being applauded, the battles fail to impress. Each level consists of the same four enemies numbly running towards you in wave after wave, like a never-ending hive of mindless bumblebees. Fighting off these creatures may seem fun at first, but after a while it becomes an arduous process that weighs heavily on the patience.

Frustrations are further magnified when Baldur's health is depleted and he dies. On the positive side, there is no real consequence for perishing, except for being respawned at the last save point. This normally leads to a boring race forward to meet up with the rest of the action. But that pales in comparison to the irritation that is derived from watching the following cutscene, each and every time you die:

What is not shown in this video is the Valkyrie entering from the top of the screen, flying down and picking up Baldur using the above animation, and then flying back up and off of the screen. When it is all said and done, fifteen precious seconds of your gaming life have ticked away, never to be seen again. Once this happens twice over the span of a minute or so, obscenities will surely be uttered.

Perhaps the biggest snag of the entire game rests on the supposedly, "intelligent camera." The only way this could be considered intelligent was if it were being compared to a freshly laid cow pie. While in battle, the camera is constantly bobbing and weaving, leaving the directional controls in constant limbo and forcing the player to stop fighting enemies to fight with the camera angle. The most significant camera issues are encountered when either climbing up or down stairs. On several occasions, while descending a flight of steps, the camera zoomed out so far, that it became impossible to distinguish between friends and enemies. The game may have been better served with a fixed third person camera along the same lines as Gears of War or Mass Effect.

For all of its ambitions, Too Human was a title that was too ingrained in the roots of the original game design. Problems like lengthy death sequences, a bad camera and invisible walls illustrate poor design, while using archaic design mechanics that were discarded by most developers years ago. I can not in good conscience recommend this game, however I can look to the future and hope for a sequel that fixes these numerous problems. Too Human had potential for success, it just needed to be brought into the next generation of game design.

Now that final judgment has been served, check out Zero Punctuation's review of Two Human: