Friday, January 2, 2009

Xbox 360 - Too Human

Too Human

Vikings, Norse mythology, Valhalla, Helle... that's what Too Human is about. This game reminds me a little of the game Viking: Battle for Aasgard (Gamezelot reviewed this game in April 2008) in some ways. This game is basically a third person shooter with a leveling up system similar to Knights of the Old Republic.


You're an Aesirian (not quite human) who is tasked to rid the Aesirian world of evil robots (and those who run them) and save the humans. Your name is Baldur the Aesirian. The story combines elements from a lot of different shooters, like Halo 3, Viking and Knights of the Old Republic into this tale. It combines all of these elements into a reasonably cohesive whole. The reasonably frequent cinematics endcap all quests so you know when they have both begun and ended.


The game designers decided to take a slightly different tack with this game's controls. Instead of using the buttons to fire, they opted to use both analog sticks in this process. The left stick controls the direction you are facing, the right stick controls the motion to the weapon or the direction of fire (depending on the currently brandished weapon). You have several different styles of weaponry to choose, such as pistols, swords, hammers (reminiscent of Thor), staves and rifles.

Just as FYI, I'm not overly fond of the double analog stick control system. It works, but I would have preferred buttons. The reason is simple. They use combos to get stronger attacks. It's next to impossible to perform proper combos using the analog stick. It's much more definitive to use buttons when creating combos.


This is one of those kinds of games where every enemy focuses on your character even when there are other team members. There are two very annoying things about this style of gaming. First, the supplemental team member characters stand around and don't fire (even though they have a weapon and are supposed to). Second, your player character is completely barraged with enemies. Enemies after enemies. I understand they want to make it challenging, but hey where's the teamwork here? If it's supposed to be a team, then make it a team effort. Have the enemies focus in on the character that is closest to them instead of focusing on, chasing after and aiming at my character 100% of the time. There is no challenge in this, it's just stupid and lazy design.

Character Improvements

The character improvement screen is actually quite impressive. The leveling up system they have designed is quite extensive. There is quite a lot that can be done in these screens. In fact, there is so much to this that it's really overkill for this style of game. Basically, this level of third person shooter really doesn't need this depth of character-customizing sophistication. If the gameplay had expanded to a full out RPG, then this leveling system would have been much more useful.

It appears to me that the developers spent way too much time building out the character improvement area without much thought to how the game itself and the story of the game could be improved by such a system. Was is it wasted effort? I'm not sure, but I think a better questing system could have dramatically improved the quality of this title. I could easily see this character improvement system being sold off as an engine in itself to other game developers. It's really quite an achievement. Too bad the rest of the shooter didn't match up to that level.

Leveling up

As you progress through the game, you gain experience points by defeating enemies. At certain points you level up and gain skill points. Skill points are then allotted to a skill or class tree. These two trees expand your character's abilities.

The problem I have with leveling up, though, is that no matter how much you level up, you really gain no strength. The enemies are still far stronger than you. So, your weapons really do no more damage after leveling up than before. This is one of the main sore spots of this game.


The controls over the character is average to sub-standard. The main character controls are very stilted and old-style. There was really not as much effort put into the 3D character control system as there was in the quite impressive character leveling system. You can definitely tell where most of the development effort went (and it didn't go into the 3D character control system).


Every once in a while, a game comes along that can't figure out how to work the camera. Too Human is one of those games. The camera in this game tends to be all over the place. Sometimes it faces the direction of the character, sometimes it faces in some random direction or to the side of the character. So, at key times when you're trying to focus on an enemy, the camera decides to readjust to the side or the front of the character and focus away from the enemy. So, instead of seeing the enemy, you're watching your character run.

These camera problems really should be a thing of the past by this point, but here we are. I wish game developers could get a clue regarding the camera. This point is soured even more by analog stick control system. Instead of using one of the sticks to manage the camera, they used the LS for movement and RS for weapon control. This left no way to easily control the camera. So, it ends up uncontrollable. The only thing you can do (and it only works at certain times) is press the left bumper button to reset the camera forward. Even still, the camera can very quickly change. When the camera moves, it's not a smooth flowing action. Instead, it moves in a quick cut. Because of this abrupt cut, you get briefly disoriented which requires determining where you are once again. This easily kills valuable time when you're in a battle.

Save Points

This game allows you to save anywhere, but only saves a single checkpoint. This means, if you want to load and restart from that checkpoint, you usually start over at the beginning of the level. It does not start you exactly where you saved. So, expect to have to redo a bunch of things to get back to where you actually wanted to start.

Character deaths

This is THE most annoying part of this game. When your character 'dies', an 'angelic' character comes down from the sky and picks you up and carts you off. This animation is not skippable. Instead, you have to wait through this torturously long scene each and every time you die. Other cinematics are skippable, this one is not. Whoever made this decision in the game should have their head examined.

Also, there is no point to dying as each and every time your character is 'reincarnated' with full health. Meaning, once you wait through the torturously long death scene, your character is reset and placed a distance away. The enemies you have done damage to remain damaged so you can finish the battle. They might as well have just given infinite health and skipped the death scene altogether.


The graphics behind this game are good in places and poor in others. The cinematics look good, but are a bit long in places. It's good that they fully explain the story, but there are so many cinematics in this game that it really gets a bit old after a while. For me, cinematics should really be used only to move the story along in a major way. They should not be used for small story elements. The textures are reasonably high res, but the characters end up too small on the screen.


The music and effects worked, but didn't stand out. It wasn't exceptionally cinematic. The voice acting worked but would not win any awards. Some of the dialog is stilted and unnatural.


This game is somewhat enjoyable for a third person shooter. I found it to be more fun than Dead Space (which came out right around the same time as Too Human). For a leveling up system, though, BioShock still far exceeds this system for a third person shooter. If you're really wanting a quality third person shooter with an excellent leveling system, play BioShock. If you're looking for an RPG, I'd recommend either Oblivion or Knights of the Old Republic.

  • Sound: 8/10 (best part of this game, keeps the suspense up)
  • Graphics: 8/10 (textures and figures are well done)
  • Bugginess: ?/10 (unrated)
  • Controls: 5/10 (LS bad choice for weapon control, no camera control)
  • Bang-To-Buck: 1/10 (rent or buy it used, don't pay full price)
  • Play Value: $25
  • Overall: 6.5/10 (serviceable, fun in places, controls are a drag, long death sequences)
Note: Play Value is the dollar amount this game is actually worth based on quality, play time and overall fun derived. It is not what a store will charge you.

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