While it's not perfect, Too Human is an Xbox 360 action game with an RPG twist that will appeal to MMO fans. And Too Human has enough going for it to silence its many critics.

Almost 10 years in the making, Too Human has seen its fair share of development troubles.

First announced for the original Playstation, moved to the GameCube and ultimately finding a home on the Xbox 360, Too Human has been a lightening rod for criticism and controversy. But, as the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding, and while it's not perfect, Too Human definitely has enough going for it to silence its critics.

It may look like a straightforward action game with an RPG twist, but the truth about the opening chapter of Silicon Knight's planned trilogy is much stranger. Here's an Xbox 360 exclusive that proudly wears its lofty ambitions on its sleeves, and yet sometimes seems bent on self-sabotage. That it's so relentlessly addictive despite its aggravations is something of a minor miracle.

NEXT PAGE: gods and monsters

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While it's not perfect, Too Human is an Xbox 360 action game with an RPG twist that will appeal to MMO fans. And Too Human has enough going for it to silence its many critics.

Gods and monsters

Too Human takes the rich world of Norse mythology and catapults it into a distant future where bloodthirsty machines stalk humanity, and even cybernetically enhanced gods like the Aesir struggle to keep the ravenous flesh shredders at bay.

Why are the machines so intent on harvesting our meaty bits?

As the youngest and least augmented member of the clan, Baldur might seem like an odd choice to lead an expeditionary force to the ancient Hall of Heroes to investigate, but between his amnesia and the death of his wife, the guy's got a drive that self-important thugs like Thor lack.

Baldur maybe a little bland and walks around like he's got something pointy in his boots but put a crowd of enemies in front of him and he suddenly turns into an Olympic speed-skater. With simple rotations of the analoguesticks, you can send Baldur flying across the screen like an angry hornet, doling out punishment with bright sparks and the satisfying clank of metal on metal.

The combat system is pretty slick, letting you launch guys into the air and then juggle them with gunfire to rack up combo points for devastating "ruiner" attacks, or leap up to get out of the fray and bash them silly. I personally loved every minute of it. The targeting system is less helpful when using guns because it stubbornly "sticks" to one particular enemy when you're frantically trying to target another, but the action is intense and enjoyable nonetheless.

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While it's not perfect, Too Human is an Xbox 360 action game with an RPG twist that will appeal to MMO fans. And Too Human has enough going for it to silence its many critics.

Death penalties

It's just too bad Too Human's difficulty is so uneven. I got through the first mission just fine but a few minutes into the second mission, there was a sudden spike in difficulty and the game suddenly stopped offering me helpful guidance. The next thing I know, I'm being pummeled by rockets that rained down on me from afar while elemental enemies exploded in my face and froze me in place. Oh, and my enemies were suddenly invulnerable to particular kinds of damage.

Sure, learning to tailor your strategy to each enemy type is part of what gives Too Human a sense of staying power, but the game's insistence on suddenly raising the difficulty is sort of like letting someone test drive a Lamborgini and then throwing huge chunks of cement in their path every few miles. This was made even more frustrating by the absurd 20-second animation of a Valkyrie taking you to Valhalla every single time you die. And no, you can't skip it; you have to suffer through it after every single death.

Certain combat situations are also poorly weighted toward one class over another as well, and thus brutally punish solo players who customised their characters along a set path. For instance, my gun-crazed level 30 Commando could blast and carve his way through most hostile forces, but then he ran across four named Troll bosses who were all impervious to bullets. Of course, I'd invested heavily in my ballistics skills and ignored melee training, which rendered me completely helpless against the bulletproof baddies.

NEXT PAGE: divine intervention

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While it's not perfect, Too Human is an Xbox 360 action game with an RPG twist that will appeal to MMO fans. And Too Human has enough going for it to silence its many critics.

Divine intervention

I know I've painted a less than rosey picture of Too Human and you're probably going to be surprised to hear that I kept playing through the teeth-grinding bouts of frustration. Want to know why? For one simple reason: the incredibly rich customization system. This stuff will appeal more to MMO addicts than straight-up action fans, but the possibilities are deep, and they actively encourage players to pair up online.

Five classes range from hardcore specialists like the melee-obsessed Berserker to the well-rounded Champion. Each time you level, you get points to spend on branching class and alignment skills. Then there are the runes you can jam into an enormous library of beautifully designed weapons and armor, or plug into a hierarchy of charms that bestow yet more special abilities if you complete simple exploration, kill, and collect quests.

You'll even find blueprints that allow you to craft the most powerful equipment in the game, including epic sets that fit together for still more bonuses.

All these layers carry over into actual combat in wonderfully concrete ways, from the Defender's damage absorption and redirection to the Bio Engineer's healing. Online co-op only supports two players, while the classes seem designed with twice that in mind, but it nevertheless enables an astonishing variety of skill-set permutations.

NEXT PAGE: Too Human preview video

Visit PC Advisor's dedicated Games website to download hundreds of the latest titles, to read gaming news and reviews and to pick up tips and discuss your favourite games in the popular PC Advisor Games forum

While it's not perfect, Too Human is an Xbox 360 action game with an RPG twist that will appeal to MMO fans. And Too Human has enough going for it to silence its many critics.

Visit PC Advisor's dedicated Games website to download hundreds of the latest titles, to read gaming news and reviews and to pick up tips and discuss your favourite games in the popular PC Advisor Games forum

Too Human: Specs

  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox 360

OUR VERDICT

The environments boast secrets and forking paths, and random ambushes strive to make your umpteenth time through an area fresh, but it's ultimately the inspired intermingling of the disparate abilities bestowed on partnered players that makes Too Human worth playing. After logging more than two dozen hours on these battlefields, the long resurrection sequences and flakey targeting still drove me up the wall, but the unpredictable online alliances, the varied loot, and rewarding combat kept me going back for more. No, it's not perfect but it's still pretty damn fun.

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