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X3F Impressions - Too Human

Too Human is a strange beast. The futuristic Norse dungeon crawler is planned to have a massive story with trilogy spanning themes and complexities. In listening to Dennis Dyack talk at the event, he seemed genuinely enthusiastic as he discussed his favorite pop culture sci-fi and fantasy sagas (he's a big Battlestar Galactica fan).

While the game's potential quality without the vaunted four-player co-op is debatable, the underlying mechanics really aren't. Too Human's ability to feed the player with loot while keeping them engaged and responding to the battle conditions and leveling up is well-tuned and feels similar to the Dreamcast's Phantasy Star Online games.

The controls are simple and feel like a hybrid of Fight Night and a shooter. As an RPG it's important to be able to attack easily and repeatably without it becoming tedious and Too Human does it's best to address this by tasking all the melee attacking to the right analog stick. Simply point it in the direction that a selected enemy is and your character will launch toward them and attack.

Given that this is an RPG, certain character classes won't be able to do so well in melee combat and will have to hang back shooting guns and using powers and abilities. The guns offer some cool variety and the varying types offer many options for not only differing gameplay, but also loot.

Loot is the main draw to keep playing a game like this and the guys drop it left and right, allowing for a constant updating of your character. The build we played had skill point tweaks that would allow for massive character growth in a short time, so it might not be so fun when it takes longer, but we had great fun adding points to skills and seeing how they affected combat.

Now, if you're expecting complexity and nuance to the actual combat gameplay there isn't much there. It mostly consists of holding down the triggers for your guns or holding a direction on the analog stick. It's closest analog would be clicking the mouse button in Diablo. This isn't Ninja Gaiden. There is no specific timing required and blocking plays little part. It's an RPG. It's about your stats.

Like Mass Effect before it, Too Human suffers because it's graphical look and camera positioning make it out to be a different genre than it is. Once you get into the paradigm shift of the game though, it becomes especially enjoyable to run through an area with a buddy, shooting and stabbing enemies while collecting phat l00t.

Though this might just be a case of "co-op makes everything better," the balance of enemy difficulty and loot-dropping with player level isn't ever easy to pull off, and Too Human does it with ease. Fighting against hordes or enemies at once did feel a bit frantic and out of control, but we had just come off Ninja Gaiden 2 and might've just been subconsciously expecting the enemies behind us to rip us a new one.

Other than the collecting and level building, the other major draw for the game is the story. Planned to be told in three parts, the narrative retells Norse mythology in a way influenced by the line of thought that says the more advanced scene becomes the more it becomes indistinguishable from magic. There are some interesting ideas raised that we saw, but we're not ones to take a story at face value.

As was the case with Ninja Gaiden, we found the story to be far more intriguing and entertaining by reading it as commentary, but there are many who won't see things that way and Too Human hasn't forgotten them entirely. With voice acting somewhere between Mass Effect and Final Fantasy X, the dialog does have some "that is a video game line, no one would ever say it like that" moments. But if you're immersed by either of the aforementioned games you'll find something of value in the Too Human cut scenes and voice work.

If you're in the market for a slower paced action experience and enjoy (or don't mind) the leveling up and tweaking of your character then Too Human could be for you. It's sort of Mass Effect-lite plus Diablo, and RPG fans of all kinds western RPG fans should be ready to give it a shot.

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