Too Human Preview - The Next Level

Game Profile

System:
Xbox 360
Release date:
TBA 2006
Publisher:
Microsoft Game Studios
Developer:
Silicon Knights
Players:
1
Genre:
Action
ESRB:
RP

Too Human

Oh the humanity! Hands-on with the long overdue latest from Silicon Knights.

Preview by Travis Fahs (Email)
May 24th 2006
 

The Basics: Shuffled around in and out of development for the better part of a decade now, Too Human returned to E3 this year for the first time since 1999 when it premiered on Sony's first PlayStation. A futuristic take on Norse mythology, Silicon Knights' brainchild tells the story of a cybernetic God, still criticized by his peers as "too human." Boasting next-gen visuals powered by the oh-so-popular third generation Unreal engine, Too Human aims to blend action, adventure, and RPG into a seamless experience. Lofty ambitions indeed.

What we think: Obviously the scope of a show floor demo isn't going to show off the finer aspects of story and exploration in a game such as this, and what we were left with was a fairly straightforward action title in the vein of Devil May Cry. We certainly hope that this will not be the primary draw of the game, since what we played still has a long way to go.

I don't know why, but it seems that the vast majority of games using Unreal Engine 3 (Gears of War, Huxley, Unreal Tournament 2007…)seem to have similar art styles. Burly square-jawed men abound sporting large, clunky metallic armor that makes their heads look too small for their bodies. Too Human doesn't buck convention any here with its designs, and while it's an attractive looking game, I'm quickly becoming numb to this new sci-fi generica. At least the story line is a fresh take on the sci-fi genre, and the mythological themes are in intriguing. The action is portrayed in third person with a scripted camera system. It felt a bit weird not to be able to manipulate the camera, and I found myself wanting to be able to see what was down some paths before wasting my time traipsing down them, but it at least managed to show the action clearly, so to this effect it was quite functional.

The first thing that struck me was the unusual control scheme. Too Human maps its attacks to the right analog stick. Don't expect sweeping movements on the analog to result in similar swings of on screen, though. Instead pressing the stick up, down, left, or right will result in different attacks. These attacks aren't even analog, so this is simply a clumsier set of buttons; not an ideal scenario for frenetic melee combat. There seems to be no payoff either, except that Silicon Knights wanted to indicate available super attacks with on-screen colors that correspond to the four colored face buttons. Pressing these attacks in different sequences will result in some flashy combos, although none of these requite much in the way of timing —good thing, too, since the unwieldy stick configuration wouldn't be well suited to a more complex combo system— rendering Too Human something of a button masher (or a stick masher as the case may be). Some auto-aiming guns are also at your demigod's disposal, and their implementation is simple and easy to use. This is balanced out by making them quite weak, which doesn't make them much fun to use, but they came in useful for those cautious moments when I was low on health.

Overall, I found myself underwhelmed by the E3 demonstration. It was a slice of mediocre, repetitive action game, with a visual style eerily similar to a number of other games at the show. That said, I know that the concept of Too Human is broader than just fighting, and that there is much more left to see. Stripping the title down to its base action elements is probably not doing it justice, and I remain optimistic that the parts will add up to a worthy whole. Given the strong track record of the developer and the sheer amount of time they've had to think this one through, I'll still keep the faith.


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