Titan Quest Review
developer: Iron Lore Entertainment
PIV 1800, 512MB RAM, 5GB HDD, 64MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Jun 26, 06 (released)
|» All About Titan Quest on ActionTrip|
There is a ripple in the dreaded summer game industry lull. Going through the release gate a week or so before Prey is Titan Quest, the latest in the long line of action RPGs that enters the scene with hopes of causing some sort of acute index finger disability to players. (It has a pretty good shot at that mind you.)
"I fell into a burning ring of fire..."
Look at the abs on them. Eat your heart out, Janet Jackson.
I have been following the development of Titan Quest very closely ever since I first saw the game at the E3 in 2004. In fact, I have been very hungry for a good action RPG, and Titan Quest looked like it could deliver.
I know it's sort of counter-productive to give you pretty much the whole story in the first few sentences of the review, but I simply feel compelled to do so. Titan Quest is a beautiful game - your hero tracks through the countryside at night as the engine displays a stunning play of dynamic lights and shadows. The locations are intricately designed. Titan Quest has a decent quest system, and it is huge. The single-player campaign offers dozens of hours of playing time through many dungeons and landscapes. The gameplay is action-packed and flowing smoothly as you click your way through thousands of monsters. The background lore is potentially interesting, the voice-overs are good and so is the soundtrack. Everything "clicks" more or less... except... well, this game has it all and yet it misses one crucial component - one could call it imagination? Or maybe passion for fantasy?
Now allow me to clarify this.
I am not asking for originality. Innovation and imagination don't necessarily go hand in hand. In fact, they seldom do. World of Warcraft is a game that stirs one's imagination with tantalizing worlds, and yet hardly anyone can call it truly innovative. Dungeon Siege, another action RPG title - it too can hardly be called innovative, and yet the game world, the characters and the weapons were stimulating enough for me to immerse myself in the setting. Dungeon Siege 2 had its flaws, but was also very layered in terms of the narrative, offering glimpses into events long passed that talked about heroes and their mythical weapons. It had a bit of mystery to it. You could see some of the passion that went into the creation of the lore.
Titan Quest in many ways surpasses DS. The mechanics of action RPG gameplay have been meticulously worked on and the results clearly show. The design of the maps is fairly linear, but the main quest line does offer a doze of nonlinearity. In terms of how the plot develops and how you proceed through Ancient Greece and beyond, Titan Quest will likely capture the hearts of many action RPG fans. Technically, there are plenty of things that Iron Lore have done right.
Sadly, one rather glaring drawback remains: In my opinion, the dungeons and monsters, the game world in its entirety, lack more life and passion. So does our hero. The narrative and background stories of the characters take a long time to develop, but even when they do flesh out, they feel uninspiring. The action component of Titan Quest, the high-flying kicks and powerful attacks, as well as the highly detailed scenery, will dazzle you surely, but half way through the game, the whole thing loses steam. At least that's how it felt to me.
The character skill development is very typical - you have your primary and your secondary class abilities. I made a warrior/healer character - the best possible grinding class. I invested more into offensive than into defensive abilities and it paid off. I was able to deal away with monsters quite easily, dual wielding my weapons and using one or two special abilities. For the warrior class at least, I was expecting more spectacular high level abilities. Granted, this all can be quite different for you if you decide to pick up any of the other (caster) classes. Titan Quest is a huge game and the skill tree reflects that as well.
The same can be said about itemization. The most common enchanted items are colored yellow, while the better ones are colored green. The set items are blue while the top-of-the-line stuff is purple (oddly enough). There is a huge number of items in the game, and a huge number of relics you can add to those items. In terms of quantity, it's all there, but you could say that the loot distribution was off the mark. Often, hard bosses will leave behind average loot in their high-level chests. Quite anticlimactic considering how hard it was to kill them.
Can you bring that statue back to life?
It's sort of like a rave party.
As far as some of the game's more obvious and tangible drawbacks are concerned, one of the most annoying issues that I had with it, I just learned will be addressed in the patch that comes out tomorrow. "Improved auto-placement of inventory items." I constantly had to rearrange my inventory. In addition, it was a bitch trying to pick up loot from the ground as the mouse cursor is very inaccurate when you go over a specific item. This made picking up gold and stuff with my mouse a pain, although, granted, there are keyboard shortcuts that will solve this problem for you. Another issue (that sadly doesn't seem to be addressed in the patch) is the relative stupidity of the friendly NPCs. Bear in mind, however, that their role is limited, so this won't have any serious impact on the game.
Beautiful graphics, music, huge game with an expansive game world, fun combat;
Story and characters lack more depth and passion, game feels too generic in some regards, minor interface and AI issues, dual-core CPU issues.