Microsoft Too Human
Almost 10 years in the making, Too Human has seen its fair share of development troubles.
- Absorbing mix of melee and gunplay, unbelievable depth to character and equipment customisation, online co-op, tons of gorgeous gear
- Senselessly long resurrection time, difficulty and balance issues, crappy automatic camera, uncooperative ballistics targeting, worthless cyberspace sequences
No, it's not perfect but it's still pretty damn fun.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
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 pummelled 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 Lamborghini 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.
I know I've painted a less than rosy picture of the game 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 customisation 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 armour, 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.
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 flaky targeting still drove me up the wall, but the unpredictable online alliances, the varied loot, and rewarding combat kept me going back for more.
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