Gods almighty

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 August, 2008, 12:00am

Combining science-fiction with Norse mythology, Too Human is the first instalment in the highly anticipated, third-person action role-playing game trilogy from Canadian developer Silicon Knights. The epic game, designed for the Xbox 360, will be released on Tuesday by publisher Microsoft Game Studios. That will end a series of fits and starts in development for Silicon Knights, which saw deals fall through for the game's release with Sony's PlayStation in 1999 and Nintendo's GameCube in 2000.

In Too Human, the gods of Norse mythology are portrayed as cybernetically enhanced human beings, who perform extraordinary feats with their robotic and natural biological parts. As Baldur, favoured son of chief deity Odin, players are thrust into the middle of a battle that threatens the existence of humankind. Baldur must face monstrous machines bent on destroying a world already ruined by centuries of war. The game's overall look is reminiscent of sets from 1997 films The Fifth Element and Starship Troopers.

It will take more than brawn and raw strength to defeat the machine hordes, so players must use a sophisticated mix of hi-tech weapons, cybernetic implants and skills, and elaborate combat manoeuvres to defeat the enemy. That results in a non-stop barrage of action, enhanced by the cinema-quality presentation on the Xbox 360 console. A sweeping orchestral score sets the mood for heartbreak, anger and blood lust within the immersive gaming environment.

Gameplay is easy to learn; the melee attacks are initiated with the console's right analogue stick while the trigger buttons are for the John Woo-style double gunplay action. The regular buttons on the controller enable the protagonist to do various jumps and rolls. 'Skill points' can be earned and used to upgrade vital combat techniques.

The game engines - which refer to the core software components that allow interaction between objects in a video game - used in Too Human include a proprietary one developed by Silicon Knights and Irish software firm Havok's namesake creation, Havok Physics.

The game can be played alone or online with a friend via a two-player co-operative mode through Xbox Live, which requires a Gold membership. First-time players will find the game is easier to learn with a friend watching your back.

Pros: Rich storyline, deep character development, amazing visuals and intense action.

Cons: What's not to like?