Old Review: Hellgate London
Enter Hellgate London, made by people who we're a part of the diablo team, you fight for against an infinite demon army taking over the world (well maybe just London, who knows).
You choose to play as one of six professions :
Blademaster, a melee warrior with high burst damage capabilities, but medium to low defense.
Guardsman, a melee warrior with extremely high defensive capabilities, decent healing abilities and the ability to taunt mobs.
Marksman, a ranged firearm specialist with high damage, good evasive skills and low defense.
Engineer, a ranged firearm specialist with medium damage, the ability to create and outfit "bots", also low defense.
Summoner, a spellslinger with the focus on creating minions to do most of the work for you, debuffer, extremely low defense.
Envoker, a spellslinger with the focus on casting, very high damage, very low defense.
The graphics in H:L are unfortunately 100% related to the power of your system, of course this is true of all computer games, but as we move into a new generation of game engines, physics, shaders, ect... having a low end system means your really not playing the same game.
On my three year old computer (p4 3.0 1gig ram, PCI ATI x1300/1500 512mb) the game runs in good frame rates mostly only on low settings with maybe one medium here or there, no AA, it also looks terrible and there a endless shader/lighting glitches that really distract from the environment.
On my new budget computer (Duo 2 2.66 2 gig, vista 64, 2x Nvidia 8600 GT 512) the game runs on high settings to a much better effect, playing on Very High or Extreme Modes (dx10 only) are possible but I receive bad frame rates, now this is my fault for my older - low to mid range graphics cards and while the game does look very nice at the high settings, it looks superb in DX10 Extreme-Very High settings. However graphical glitches again mostly shading and lighting abound.
Very much the strong suit of the game, you run and gun (or hack and slash) as most of the classes, even caster's spells are very high rate of fire and it does have a good "Action" feel to it with demons constantly swarming you.
Some monsters are just annoying while some are tough and some are extremely tough and some of course are bosses. Learning how to deal with the different monster types is a big part of the strategy of the game, some monsters have high armor, some high attack strength, some are shielded and so on.
Most classes as I've said really do run an gun their whole live through hellgate, Guardsman is the notable difference as many of his skills encourage (or require) standing still.
The basics: you use guns/spells/skills/swords to kill monsters for xp, loot and cash. As you gain levels you get attribute points towards the 4 stats Accuracy, Strength, Stamina, Willpower. Each of which is pretty self-explainitory but also in H:L your stats are required for equipment in example a new gun may require you be level 10 and have 30 accuracy to use, if you are lacking either, you cannot equip it. All equipment follows this pattern and at higher levels you may find yourself juggling equipment to get a good fit.
Also as you gain levels you get skill points (your first level 1 is chosen for you) each class has approx. 28 skills that can receive 7 to 10 points each, the level cap is 50 currently so you do need to make some good choices and try to put your skills where you need them as there is no undoing your choices.
Crafting is a good addition to the game, all loot can be broken down into materials, with quality of the materials received depending on the quality of the item you break down. Running out of space but not ready to head back to town? Sure you could summon a portal that saves your place in the dungeon (or just recall and not save your place) Or you could just clean away unwanted junk by breaking it town and letting it all stack up nice and neat. Later then in towns you can speak to crafter NPC's that randomly have items for creation, or use your pieces to upgrade your current equipment or sell it to NPC or player, what ever your style.
NPC merchants also are in each town selling nessecities like health and focus (mana) items item identifying tools and PRD personal relocation devices. Also the NPC's do sell items, all random all the time.
Probably the most notable aspect of H:L is the randomness, all items, all maps, all non story bosses are totally random. Loot and monsters come in Standard, Enhanced (well only loot is enhanced), Rare, Epic, Legendary. Maps reload with monsters and randomize every time you log out, ala diablo save and exit.
Wonderful, from eerie screams to rock and roll kill 'em all anthems, I dont think the sound could of been done any better, except for some weapon effects but thats just being picky.
The story in Hellgate is unfortunately very weak, weaker than diablo, weaker than... its just really weak. Your really only here to kick butt and collect sweet loot, but an excellent story would of made this into great game, instead of just a good game.
Online is a good way to play being able to group up with people makes the game tougher which is probably the number one complaint with the first 20 hours of game play, however I urge people to stick with it because once you beat the game your original character starts the game over at level with all monsters at level 30 and up and you can begin a new game at level 1 on the increased difficulty mode: Elite.
But dont get me wrong, offline is a great way to play too, this is not an mmorpg and does not play or feel like one. Offline players get more character slots than Online - Non Subscribers and still have access to things like Nightmare and Elite and Nightmare Elite.
At first elite was going to be subscription only (for 9.99 a month subscribers get more character slots, more bank slots, Hardcore mode, and any additional content still to be added) but now it is for everyone, and it is probably the right choice for most of those people calling the game boring or a snooze.
So in closing to this really long review that is probably still missing alot of good information: HellGate London is a good game, held back by graphical bugs, a weak story, and an all too easy first 20+ hours. Fix those things and this would be up there with Halo 3 and Bioshock, but its too late now. However once you get into things like Elite mode and Nightmare Difficulty, the true action begins, unfortunately those modes are only available after beating the game once.
So get out there Demonslaying, or go back to playing something else.