Giant Bomb Review

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Too Human Review

3
  • X360

Too Human has a unique setting and some compelling ideas, but it doesn't offer enough variety to stay fresh from start to finish.

Do you like loot? Then Too Human might be for you. If you have an insatiable lust for items with higher stats than the ones you're currently using, or if you get giddy at the mere thought of Diablo-style rare item naming conventions, you'll probably be able to look past the game's issues and have a good time. But even at its best, it's hard to ignore Too Human's monotonous combat and dated approach to cooperative play.

You play as Lord Baldur.
At least the setting is unique. The game is rooted in Norse mythology, yet it takes place in a futuristic sci-fi setting. So there are a bunch of cyber-Vikings running around. Rather than focusing on magic or sorcery, the game trades in cybernetic implants and cyberspace. You play as Baldur, one of Odin's sons. You're delivered right into the action at the beginning of the game, and flashbacks pepper the game's first area in an attempt to fill you in. They aren't terribly effective, though, as there's very little in place to set up the world itself, why it's being invaded by robots, and who is ultimately responsible. As it's a Norse tale, it doesn't take long before figures such as Thor, Heimdall, and Loki appear, and as it's tapping into the whole Viking thing, there are plenty of moments where important things like "Valhalla" and "mead" are discussed. It clashes with the game's sci-fi look here and there, but even though the events of the game are quite convoluted, it's still an interesting combination.

The game itself combines inspirations from a handful of different sources, as well. Too Human is an action RPG with similarities to Diablo. You'll run through combat areas, fighting off hordes of robots or zombies, hacking and slashing all the while. You'll collect scads of loot with different status effects and statistical bonuses and attempt to collect full sets of armor for an even greater protective bonus. The game's four worlds and overall structure, however, have more of a Phantasy Star Online feel to them. Each area has enemies that do a different type of damage, allowing you to prep a different set of armor for each area, if you wish. Also, like PSO, it seems to be the intent of the developers that you grind through each area multiple times in a quest for better gear. A straight single-player run through the game took me around 12 hours and left me at level 29. The maximum level, however, is 50. Lastly, the game's combat system attempts to bring in air combos, juggles, and a mixture of swords and firearms that gives it a few check marks in the Devil May Cry column.

That doesn't really mean that if you're a fan of all of Too Human's inspirations that you'll automatically love this, though. Despite attempts to work in some advanced combat options, the action in Too Human feels quite thin. There's a real lack of enemy variety, and your best viable option quickly becomes "shoot the enemies until they get close, switch to melee and start popping them up in the air with your attacks, then jump up after them to finish the job with an air combo." Regardless of the class you select, the same tactics still apply. The classes put focuses on different aspects of your character and give you a different skill tree to fill out as you gain levels. But other than the offense-focused berserker class feeling a little fragile when playing alone and the bio engineer's latent automatic healing ability, you're looking at basic shades of offensive or defensive specialization.

The streets of Too Human are paved with loot.
There's a lot of customization that can be done to both your character and your gear. First, there's the skill tree, which is different for every class. There's also a secondary skill tree that opens up later on. You can slot weapons and armor all over your character, and the game does a good job of making a lot of the wearables look different, so it's likely that no two Baldurs will look identical. Also, the weapons and armor come in different forms. So you might find a sword that has "of rooting" on the end, which has a special ability that makes your targets immobile when it activates. You may also find weapons with empty rune slots on them. You'll find runes along the way with different bonuses, such as Total Armor +5% or Soothing +10% and so on. Fitting these runes into slots on your weapons and armor lets you further beef up any area where you feel like you're lacking, but as a rule, adding to your total armor never seems to be a bad idea.

Runes also come into play with charms. Charms are items that you often find in cyberspace, and they act as little miniquests when equipped. Each charm will have a task that must be completed, such as "collect 10 blueprints" or "kill 200 undead." When you complete that task and feed the charm a specific set of runes, it activates and gives you a listed bonus, like a chance for your attacks to put enemies to sleep or the chance to add lightning to your strikes at random, and so on. While this ensures that you'll almost always have something to work on completing, even after you've finished the game numerous times, most of the charms aren't interesting enough to make repeated trips into the game's four areas much more entertaining. Also, the creatures scale up in level just as you do, so the level of challenge doesn't change much over the course of the game.

The thing that's supposed to keep you coming back is the game's online cooperative play, which lets another player join you over Xbox Live. Players can trade items when connected and combining players from different classes can mix things up a little bit. For example, the bio engineer's healing abilities offset the berserker's utter lack of defense to some degree. While it may be tempting to jump right into co-op and forget that the single-player campaign even exists, you should know that none of the game's story is present when playing online. Also, all friendly AI-controlled characters don't appear at all. So you won't be fighting alongside chattery humans and you won't see them wandering around the game's town area having random conversations, either. No cutscenes, just raw combat. Considering that the game's story isn't so hot to begin with, maybe this is a decent trade-off, but this mostly makes the game feel dated--most modern story-driven co-op games have found a way to integrate some portion of the story into multiplayer play.

Baldur likes to stay a'head' of the competition. Sorry.
Too Human makes its four different combat areas look appropriately different, and things like up-close shots of the character models look just fine. But in action, the combat itself looks sort of bad. The game's animation feels completely canned, and there are plenty of cases where you're watching your weapons flail around, waiting for an animation to finish so you can get back in control. Little things, like the way the valkyries' legs clip through the ground when they come down to carry away dead players, or the way two-handed swords aren't actually attached to the player model when stored on your character's back make the whole game feel rough. The way the characters slide around to attack faraway targets also looks strange, as does the way air attacks let you hang in the air for a few seconds and repeatedly swing your weapon or execute a finisher, though there are at least gameplay reasons for those instances.

Too Human has a real lack of enemy variety, and the first three areas of the game pit you against what seems like two types of robots, a couple types of larger robots, and perhaps some robots that are colored a bit differently to denote a special ability. On top of all that, the game's frame rate gets unstable in spots. Too Human has its moments of visual splendor, but they're few and far between. The game uses dynamic music that picks up when combat starts and quickly fades away when there's nothing actively coming at you. But the moments of non-combat are very brief, resulting in dynamic music that always seems to be starting or stopping. When you get to hear more than eight bars of it in a row, the game's music is fine.

As the first part of a planned trilogy, Too Human doesn't do a particularly good job of setting things up. If anything meaningful happens in this game aside from establishing a villain, it was lost on me. The only way I got anything interesting out of it was to start searching for web pages devoted to Baldur's place in Norse mythology to see how many liberties Silicon Knights is taking with its fiction and to see what sorts of things could lie ahead in the next games. As a game, the action is a little too straightforward for its own good. The latent loot fiend in me had fun uncovering new items, slotting runes, and finding blueprints for new items--but even that stuff doesn't feel as fleshed out as you'd probably expect. In short, large parts of Too Human feel like they were designed to the standards of the last generation of consoles, not this one.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
182 Comments
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Posted by Ma7moud

Still going to buying it.

Posted by busted1der

First. Thanks for the advice.

Posted by Zergvasion

Sigh. I'm not convinced.
1UP beat this game to the ground for me.
Epic wins?

Posted by Snipes424

nice read, ty Jeff

Posted by JamesF

Wasn't gonna buy it anyway..

Posted by nail1080

meh Too Human too dull I'm out

Posted by Zergvasion

What is the lesson we learned here?
No game is worth waiting 10 years for.
(I'm looking at you, Duke Nukem)

Posted by mrhankey

Yeah, thats for the most part how i felt about the game...looks like my 360 is going to go unplayed for the most part....save GoW 2 and L4d which i'm going to get for both pc and 360....

Posted by Legend

I'll rent it, then.

Posted by pyromaniac

After 10 years...what a disappointment..*sigh* still gone buy it though

Posted by MB

Looks like a rental to me.  Sigh.

Moderator
Posted by Vinchenzo

This will probably be similar to Advent Rising in that a "trilogy is promised" but sales crash and burn. I sure hope so.

Posted by wefwefasdf

I got that impression basically from the demo.

Posted by Zergvasion

Hmm.
So people claim that $15 is "too much" for Braid...
I guess that means that $59.99 is a good price for this game?

*Head hits desk*

Posted by Ontheocho

Fair and balanced review.  Now you must go into hiding as Denis prepares his army of Norwegean Goblin men to ransack the offices of Neogaf and any site that messes with his Metacritic.

Posted by Whisperkill

I have to greatly disagree with this review

Posted by zityz

I tried the demo, and the controls and the blandness that it was put me off of it.

Posted by Bulldog19892

I played the demo, and I already knew I wasn't going to buy the game (or play the demo ever again). The controls were clunky, the sound was lame, the graphics weren't much to speak of. Everything ranged from bad to mediocre, so I didn't even need a review.

Posted by MeatSim

I thought the demo was fun enough and it's the first decent game to be released in what seems like forever because of the slow summer months so I'm still gonna pick this up

Posted by Neopezz

Well I do like loot.

Posted by John

wow, talk about getting a fast review up and running. anyway, I think this game should be worth a try for people that are into rpgs.

Posted by HeLives

J-Gerst,
I like the review.  I really liked the demo myself.  I could see where Dyack and SK were headed with this title.  Is it good enough to warrant $60, ehh?  I'm not so sure Fable will fare any better.  Man, I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by Berkie

 Like most here, I also found the demo to be lack-luster.  In particular I hated the lack of variety of enemys. The same damn robots over, and over.

Posted by ericdrum

I like loot. I'm still getting it. Reviews are nice to read, but scores mean nothing to me. Most of the big sites gave Crackdown average scores and I like that game a whole hell of a lot. Btw, am I the only one who thinks that this game controls a million times better than walking, running and shooting in GTA4? No matter how much a person could explain it to me, I'll never understand how that game got it's scores.

Posted by cirion

Mmm how i wish games were only $60 where i live AUS we pay more than what most games are worth imo. (i am sure we are not alone on this either) This game is $100AUD which is $86US so for me it can stay on the shelf.

Posted by AnEternalEnigma

I think idiots who do the "First" garbage like our local retard, busted1der, should have their posting priviledges revoked. Bonus account termination for when you post "First" and you're NOT first.

Posted by chandlerr_360

I'm going to be getting it, the demo sold me.

But seriously...how is this game getting such bad reviews from everyone?! GTA4 got a 10, yes, thats a TEN from IGN AND Gamespot, and this TH's demo is twice as good as the entire game of GTA4 alone.

Posted by XAMS

Haha, Gamespot gave this game a 5.5, its not even worth renting!

This game took 10 years just to flop. What a disaster.

Posted by CodeMunki

From the review, it sounds like the demo accurately represents the full game.  It's still in my GameFly Q, but only because there isn't much new to play for a couple of weeks or so.

Posted by Blazer74

Dennis will whine that the reviewers don't know they were talking about and they should be censored or it could ruin the industry. The real truth is people like Dennis would ruin the industry if they had thier way. In his vision opinions that disagree with his should be hidden. Of course he ould be the one to trust seeing as how its his game and wants to make money on it, sure Dennis. Lol.
Anyway I was a little iffy on this before I played the demo. The story sounded terrible. The played the demo and hated the controls and that pretty much sealed the deal for me. Not really shocked it didn't score higher at all.

Posted by FiestaUnicorn

According to the review the demo for Too Human was a great indicator for the final product.  Three years ago I really wanted to like this.

Posted by GiantEnemyCrab

I didn't like the demo all that much. I just couldn't handle attacking with the control stick. I want a button to mash if it's a button masher..

And it was very easy to play, considering if you died you didn't really lose anything, and if you were fighting a boss it wouldn't reset its hp.

Posted by TheFrostedGamer

All those years in development and all they could come up with is monotonous combat and loot gathering. And the main character looks like the Walmart brand of Kratos. These guys were the ones ragecrying over the unreal engine even though tons of developers made WAY better games using said engine, right? *smiles and shakes his head*

Note to Jeff: I love your reviews, but I don't think genre-mixing (Norse Meets sci-fi) counts as a unique setting. Other than that, carry on good sir.

Posted by ericdrum

Do you even know their complaints in the lawsuit? No you don't. *smiles and shakes his head*

Posted by expensivelove

First day buy. Loved the demo, sorry. I'm a bad, BAD person.

Posted by ThePhenomenal1

i enjoyed the demo. i'd probably enjoy the full game but, if its really not that long and not very polished, then i'd better save my money for future games.

but i am totally a dennis dyack supporter. hes seems like a good guy who really has had the shit end of the stick since hes been working on this game. i hope the sequals improve and make it the too human that he invisioned it to be.

Posted by zakaweb

I didn't like the demo too much, but I decided to play it again and enjoyed it. The way the game handles death is a bit annoying and there are some legitamate issues being stated in various reviews but I'm getting because I believe I will enjoy it.

Posted by SubTact

Thank you Jeff for writing the first constructive Too Human review I've read so far.  Though I shouldn't expect any less, as I've always found, that regardless of the times where I disagree with your overall opinion, you always make good points that are well supported in your reviews.

That 1up review was complete trash, especially the specific point about air combat being too difficult.  Most of the people that have played through the demo a few times, know that successful air combat takes the most minimal of timing (it's almost like a magnet that just draws you in) to successfully pull off.  After three hours with the Champion in the demo, I was pulling off air juggle finishers pretty much at will.

Speaking of bad reviews, if that 5.5 score on Gamespot (though it appeared that the review wasn't posted when I clicked on the link) is the score, I can't wait to read the BS Kevin Van Ord put into the review.  No offense to him as a person, but he seems unexperienced writing reviews, and he writes about game elements he seems to know very little about (like how he praised the AI of MGS4, the game may have very well been a 10/10, but there was nothing extraordinary about the AI) .

I'm glad in this apparent era of rookie game reviewers, that giantbomb.com exists to give educated and fleshed out opinions on games.  Seriously, there are a whole heap of game reviewers that need to learn to be more informative in their writing, or possibly be more clever when they feel the need to absolutely pan a game. 

Posted by dexterslu

so, say this game were an original xbox game or a gamecube game would it be fantastic?

Posted by chandlerr_360

When is the video review going to be up?

Posted by TheDon02

Too bad. I was really looking forward to this game and now it turns out like crap.

Posted by ImperiousRix

I played the demo and was not impressed by the story-telling, graphical quality, or gameplay.  I might rent this on a boring weekend, but my impressions and the reviews so far have pretty much sealed this game's place in my "don't care" file.

Posted by Clean

knew the game was never something great

Posted by Rcwpong

If it's destined to be a niche game then so be it.  I still loved the demo and everything the game is trying to be.  A dungeon crawler with combat inbetween action and a diablo clickfest.  I hope it does well enough that MS lets them do part 2 and 3.

Posted by Blitzer

I wanted this game to be good as well. But 5 minutes into the demo I was already disappointed.

Posted by HitNRun

"So people claim that $15 is "too much" for Braid...
I guess that means that $59.99 is a good price for this game?"

This construct is a week old and it's already jumped the shark.

Posted by TrackZero

Thanks for a proper review Jeff (better than that mess 1UP posted).  I'm still planning to go ahead with my purchase tomorrow, as I know I'll get my money's worth out of it at least (for what I'm looking for).

Posted by Zergvasion

Lol why was the 1up Review "messed up"?
They both played the same game, they had basically the same opinions.
C- is around the same as a 3 stars. It was disappointing, but not terrible.

People who bash reviewers need to spend more time on their beloved Star Trek forums.

Posted by EPGPX

I guess gamers are forgetting that three stars still means its a good game. Go out and buy it and try it.

Posted by TrackZero

Zerg, because it's not about the score, that's not a "review".  It's about the content, the games good and bad, what to expect, to see if it's the right fit for you.  1UP's "review" was a joke, hell, they had more written up for GeoWars 2.  You hit the end of the page and think "Where's the next page button?" and realize that's all they wrote.  They didn't even cover the music, narrative, the rune/equipment system in any depth whatsoever.  The reviewer may as well have typed "Meh.  C-" and walked away.

People who don't know what a review is shouldn't post on this site.

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