Gaming Today Reviews Hellgate: London
An exciting discovery was unearthed today. Archaeologists uncovered an entry from the journal of one of the survivors of Hellgate: London:
When the demons came they turned everything we loved into ash and dust. A small sect of religious fanatics, long ago relegated to myth and legends, became very real to all of us that survived. They called themselves Templars, inheritors of a sect of Christian knights, an order believed dead in the middle ages. The Templars took us in, got us organized and taught us how to fight back. Some took naturally to the sword, others began to manifest abilities that could only be described as magical. These magic wielding survivors came to be known as Cabalists, summoners and evokers who seemed disposed to wield the evil magics that the demon invaders brought with them through the Hellgate. A third group soon formed among the survivors as well, collectively known as Hunters they used technology and science to combat the arcane threat. I’m no good with a sword like the Templars, and have no innate magic talent like the Cabalists, but I can turn a pile of junk into a bot in no time flat. I’m a pretty good shot too, so I signed on with the Hunters as an Engineer.
Life in the mean streets of London is a trial by fire. My first training mission I hooked up with this fellow named Murmur and became further embroiled in the Templar organization than I had dreamed of. Since then, I’ve been taking the fight to the enemy. I’m dealing with mutated beasts, demons, specters and even necros, our own dead. We use the London underground stations as staging points and fight our very personal war against the demons in the dim hope that we can push them back through the portals that brought them to our world and destroyed our civilization.
The techs and the Cabalists working together found ways to enhance our weapons and armor. Ancient magics and cutting edge technology give us a fighting chance. We have swords and guns with poison, fire and electric capability. We can also use something the Cabalists call spectral damage. The techs are working on a way to incorporate new types of damage into our weapons, like cold that could stun or slow targets. The better weapons and shields have slots for upgrades to add new effects to them. We can switch out ammo, fuel, batteries, tech components and even magic relics to maximize damage to the different types of foes. Some of our expeditions beyond the safe zones are merely for the opportunity to gather these components and to gain better equipment from the husk of London to use against the dark enemy.
Sometimes I run alone, sometimes I backup my mates. Whatever my mission is, things are bound to get weird in demon infested areas. Sometimes things will disappear, like I can see the mods I integrated into my rocket launcher, and fire the thing, but I can’t see the gun itself. Techsmith 314 says this is a glitch with the modification process and promises he and the other techs are working on a fix but until it comes it’s more than a little disconcerting during combat.
Portals are another hazard. The further you are from a safe haven the worse it gets. When going out as a member of a team, sometimes my mate will disappear completely. I can’t even track them on my scope, but it’s easy enough to follow the trail of carnage he leaves behind. Sometimes it even causes bots to malfunction. I’ve had my bots materialize in the floor on the other side of portals. I’ve also had the bot disappear off my scope although I can see them clearly. However when that happens I can create new ones, but can’t control or repair them once they’re activated. I just have to stop to build a new one when it gets fragged. Techsmith 314 is also aware of these malfunctions and is working on a solution. He promises a software update in the near future.
Glitches aside, I have the best equipment and armor I could ask for. I’m certainly never bored as my prey changes every time I step through one of those portals.. Whether I’m with my mate or soloing I still can’t wait to get back out there and frag some demons. There are quirks and problems with our little war. The demons see us as food and fodder but we’re determined to fight back and maybe even discover what has happened to the world outside London.
Presentation (9) - Hellgate:London is a respectable spiritual successor to the Diablo series. It provides players with the wide variety of MOBs and random maps that Diablo fans have come to expect and added character customization as well. The multiplayer interface is also much improved. The opening movie does a great job of setting up the story and giving players a preview of each character archetype in action.
Graphics (8) - You get what you pay for with this game. The graphics are detailed with beautifully rendered textures if you have a graphics card that will do it justice. In more populated areas, players may notice NPCs and other PCs look hazy with less powerful graphics cards. I have three PCs with varying cards and there is an significant difference between low end or older cards and the new high end GPUs. I don’t have a system that runs Vista so I can’t vouch for DirectX 10.
Sound (9) - The voice acting for the English version is decent and varied, like the NPC designs, the voices are varied enough to give you the feel that London is populated by people, not clones. A lot of attention was obviously given to sound effects for weapons, foot falls and spells. The many types of creatures you’ll encounter have their own sounds as well. The background sounds are enough to build suspense without being intrusive. The score is decent, although for my taste, I would actually like to hear more of the combat music that seems to kick you into over drive when it does come on.
Gameplay (6) - The game runs smoothly even with systems that meet minimum requirements. Load times aren’t overly long either, allowing players to get into the action. The variety of monsters and the random encounters with rare and elite MOBS keep things fresh by requiring you so switch up tactics and damage types, instead of using the same tried and true formula ad nauseum.
The mulitplayer features are much improved. You never have problems with the up front fighter getting all the loot because each player has his or her own loot from drops as well as chests. Experience is also no longer an issue as everything is shared although this could potentially lead to problems with one team member sitting back and letting another do all the work.
However, at this time there are several notable bugs in the game, some of which like disappearing team members and weapons. I noticed problems with my player controlled bots but none with the Cabalist pet class, the Summoner. I was however extremely ticked off when I was killed 300 yards from the portal to a new safe area by a unique only to find I had to start over three portals back because the game lost my tombstone marker.
Replayability (9) – There are three archetypes and six different character classes to chose from, each different enough to give players plenty of incentive to try different styles of gameplay. The basic objectives of quests are the same, but since all but the boss levels are random, you can stand to play through them again to see how a different class plays. The game also features random level sets so on multiple play throughs you may have vastly different environments – which is a step up from Diablo II.
Overall (8.5) - Hellgate: London looks good, plays well and has something for everyone whether they’re looking for an RPG, an FPS, or enjoy the collecting and modifying of weapons and armor. The main storyline could use some fleshing out but there are enough side quests and individual NPCs to keep the game interesting. The multiplayer subscription looks like it will really pay off; with new story elements, quests, and damage types in the works. Once Flagship works out all the bugs, I believe Hellgate will be every bit as addicting as the Diablo series games.