I picked this little toy up over fall break and since I've been trying to force myself to do more reviewing of electronic media for awhile I decided to force myself.
Too Human for the XBox 360 Reviewed
This game, quite literally, is nearly as old as the mythology it presents. Having been conceptualized over a decade ago, it's taken three console generations, a lawsuit, and many tears to bring this game to us. Too Human is wacky sci-fi take on the classics of Norse Myth. We got gods, we got giants, and somehow they've all become very well armed, armored, and very mechanical.
In Too Human you play as Baldr, the Norse god of Light and Beauty. Baldr is a god, which in this game means he has been enhanced with Golden Apples (Cybernetics) to make him better, faster, stronger, and supposedly costing a million dollars. As this super powered machine-man of death and destruction you fight the machines which threaten to destroy the humans you protect.
If you think that sounds like a stupid idea, it is. If you think its an interesting idea, it is. Too Human really has a hit or miss story line. At times, the sacred cows that are Thor and Loki are so horrible, you wish there was a boss fight that allowed you to kill them. At other times, the game shies just short of story telling brilliance. The primary flaws in the games story, are the horrible characterization, the horrible placed cutscenes that just seem to be waiting to ruin what you doing at the moment, and the inaccuracies of some characters (somewhere along the line Freya became a slut, Baldr isn't dead like he should be... oh and Grendel has seemingly jumped ship from Anglo-Saxon to Norse myth).
Thankfully, you can skip most of the cut scenes will a press of B (Odin be praised!). I also feel the need to emphasize, that even though the story is bad, the environments and the general look of the game, is wonderful. It's like Lord of the Rings meets Halo, and there's no going wrong with that!
Now we get to the real dilemma. Honestly, the story doesn't really matter. Too Human, like Diablo, is all about the loot. You go into the dungeon, crawl around, destroy the mechanical versions of the Elves, Trolls, and Goblins, and collect the riches! How do you destroy them? You build your character, load him up with the heavily customizable weapons and armor that any RPG fan will love, and get too it. You level up, build your skills that range from elemental damage, offensive and defensive buffs, auto-turrets, mines, and healing and shielding skills, that make every class worth playing with and worth using.
You pick one of five classes, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The classes are pretty well balanced for the most part. There are three paths for each class that all offer you options depending on your play style, and then there are the alignment skill lines that can further boost your kill count potential. My only complaint is that only the Bio-engineer is able to heal himself (the other classes need to rely on the dumb luck of something they just killed dropping a health pick up). This, is annoying. It pretty much makes experiencing a unskippable and over-long death sequence a common and unavoidable occurrence for all the other classes for most of the game.
Why would the other classes die so much? Lets just say that the games combat, is truly hit or miss. You use the right control stick in melee to swing around and take out the badies; tossing them into the air for a devastating air strike, blowing through them with powerful slide attacks, simply bash in their skulls in violent barbarian fashion. In theory this works great, and in practice it shows. However, ever now and then, the system is going to screw you, and you'll die a very cheap and ludicrous death. This is especially true for enemies who upon death, explode, and can cause quite a bit of damage.
Not into melee? Cool, lets go ranged with dual pistols, rifles, and cannons of three different ammo types. There's only one problem; Aiming. Like your melee combat, the game relies of the right stick to pick a target. it's really not that bad, until there's a swarm of enemies coming at you, and one them is the kind that blows up upon death. Normally you don't want to rush sword first and cut them to ribbons, least the badie blow up and take you down moments later. Except you can't hit him! It's really a trial to aim for anything specific. When pointing in a specific direction, you really can only hope the gun targets the desired enemy, and if it doesn't the only option is too keep shooting and hope you can mow them all down.
The camera itself is beyond control. With the right stick and the buttons dedicated to combat and skills, only the left bumper controls the camera, and all it does is point it in the direction you character is looking in. Normally, this isn't a problem (almost never is it a problem really), but there are occasional times when the camera does something funky that can really throw you off your groove.
The gameplay certainly has advantages. With the right stick control and some practice, melee becomes fluid and fast paced, allowing you to hack through the machine hoards with ease too pick up the glorious spoils afterwards. Ranged combat can work well too, gunning down hoards with your rifle or mixing it into your melee to soften up targets before having at them with that fancy hammer of yours. When you get it going, its unbelievably fun! It has all the smooth crisp action of Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden, minus the risk of hacking away at the air or dashing right by a target and missing.
At other times, its a disaster. Sometimes the enemies come in so fast you can't shoot or hack fast enough to save yourself. Without the ability to heal or regenerate, poor and sometimes overly difficult crowd control is the big killer in this game (and the Bio-Engineer's combat skills are so weak he dies even with his regeneration). The combat flaws can be easily managed with experience, and if you can pick up on some subtle techniques, you can glide throw your foes like a war hammer and the human skeleton. Once your into it, its smooth, crisp, and easy as pie. The problem is how hard it is to get the hang of the system, and how at times, no matter what you do, a mass of enemies or a crazy camera are going to kill you.
There is however one other awesome side to the game. Co-Op. At times, it really feels like the game was made for playing with a Norse God loving buddy over Live. Mix character classes and styles together to build the ultimate team of monster slayers and collect all that precious loot together. Many of the classes have abilities that can compliment others. The Bio-engineer can heal allies, and it's regeneration power, being a group skill benefits your partner. The Defender's bait ability can drawn enemies too you, saving your partner if he's struggling, and the Beserker and Champions combat skills can mix with just about everyone to form a flurry of melee and bullets. Co-op just plain rocks, and none of the horrible badly placed story cut scenes are present in it (which is really a plus in my eye). Having a partner really opens up potential for Too Human, and gives it something you just don't get in single player.
It's hard to decide whether or not the game is truly bad. It's just that after 9 years of development, I was expecting more than a game with a horrible story, hit or miss combat, and that can be finished in ten hours. Luckily, it's massively replayable, and even though there are some major problems, they can be easily managed once you've gotten a hang of the controls and how to keep the enemies from overrunning you (Don't count on you're allies to help much/ Enemies always go for you first, and they tend to just stand there and shoot into the air). Is Too Human bad? No. Could it have been better? Much!
Despite all it's annoyances, I'm going to pack it with a 7 out of 10. You can probably find better games in this genre, but for co-op dungeon looting and furiously fast combat once you're into it, there aren't many options that are better. The Co-op really brings the game head on into glory. Let me warn you, single player is limiting. Many of the classes are built to have another player cover their weak points or enhance their strengths through passive abilities and battle cries. You can play the game by yourself and have a blast! But honestly, unless your a major fan of dungeon crawling loot collecting, and character building, rent the game before buying. Without co-op it's missing something special. If you're iffy, give it a rent and see how it goes.
Sound: 8 /10
Rent or Buy: Could go either way. I suggest a rent first to see how you like it. Give this baby a chance. You just might find a unstoppable amount of fun with it after surviving the first few frustrating hours.
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