Tobold's Blog
Friday, October 19, 2007
Hellgate London demo

The demo for Hellgate London is now available from pretty much anywhere. You can either play a blademaster (melee combat) or a marksman (ranged combat) until about level 4, at which point you'll find yourself at some dead end in a dungeon without being told that the demo is over. But at least you get to play a couple of quests, kill lots of zombies and even a few boss mobs, and get to know the game.

Me, I didn't like it. It's mouse look, even in 3rd person over-the-shoulder view I get video game sickness from it. And I don't think the game justifies the hype. It's a Diablo clone with a Sci-Fi theme. A good one, but far, far from being a MMORPG. As blademaster it plays similar to a fantasy action RPG, click, click, click, monster dead. As soon as you notice that you can put the skill which replenishes health on your left mouse button and it also slashes with your weapon when you do so and click the mouse, the game gets far too easy. Only the bosses remain a challenge. The marksman plays more like a shooter, and funnily has less problems with the bosses, but more problems with larger numbers of trash mobs. Throwing grenades is lots of fun, because you never know where they'll land.

You collect lots of loot, which you can either sell to buy better stuff, or you can disassemble it into parts, which you can use at a nanoforge to upgrade existing items to a higher level. Rarely you can also find mods, but the only one I found was a relic, which is used to improve blademaster items, only that I was playing the marksman at that time. Makes me wonder if in the final game you can pass items from one character to another, but I'd guess that would then only be avaible for subscribers.

If you like action RPGs, you should download the demo and have a look. Me, I've seen enough and will not buy it.
I knew it would be a fail.
The first 4 lvls of just about any game dont really justify success or failure.
Who said anything about comparing this game to an MMORPG? Nowhere do they make that claim and in fact it's categorized as an Action/RPG game. People who go in expecting it to be anything else will be disappointed.

I've been interested in seeing what the game is all about but told myself I wouldn't like it. I was accepted into beta (the NDA has been lifted btw) and I have to be honest and say I like what I've seen. I haven't tried the demo that was released but for what it's worth, I've heard others who have been in beta say that the demo was garbage.

While I don't see this being a WoW killer for me, it's definitely got my interest.
It's not a MMORPG, and I wish to god people would stop treating it like one.

It's an action RPG with the ability to also do online multiplayer. People see the OPTIONAL monthly subscription for bonus content and immediately assume its an MMORPG. Sigh.

It's an action RPG, and a fairly good one at that. If you liked Diablo 2 or Titan Quest, you'll probably like Hellgate: London. If you didn't, then you won't.

Doing the first 4 levels as a demo was a mistake. They should have dropped people in at level 10-15. Action RPGs are almost always boring and stupid for the first few levels - the mobs are easy because you have no skills yet, and gameplay is boring because, you guessed it, you have no skills yet. Diablo 2 was no different.

I can definately understand why Tobold wouldn't like the game, but for people who like this style of gameplay it will be a decent game (I played several characters to level 15+ in the beta).
I've liked playing a blademaster to around L12 in the beta at least.

Sure, it's not really a true MMORPG, but it's still pretty decent.
Tobold why do you insist on reviewing games of a genre you do not like? I don't like mini-vans, so I don't drive them. Stop playing action games unless you can review them at face value. You really aren't much of an authority to rate games from genres you hate.

As far is being a Diablo Clone...IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE. The creators of Diablo are trying to bring the pace and ease of play to the 3D world of today. The developers made it very clear they were searching for a way to make shooter style game play with ease of targetting from D2. "click click dead" is exactly what they were aiming for. That was the pace of D2 and it made for a fun, fast paced play style. If they managed to capture that in a 3D world, that's not a failure, it's a success.

If you were a fan of Diablo 2, play this game and write a review. If you are a fan of MMORPGs, go play them. This is not for you.
Isn't the purpose of a demo to decide whether you like the game? If so, then my opinion of the HGL demo isn't a positive one.

boring visuals (everything looks the same)
generic quest
horrible voice acting
repetitive combat

Maybe I'm being too harsh but I remember being so blown away by the COD2 demo, and this is a real let down compared to that.

The bottom line is that the demo probably should not have been released, though my wallet is glad that it was.
Anselm, plenty of people who like this sort of game have had similar reactions to the demo and/or beta. As they say, don't blame the messenger.
I'm actually in love with this game... as an Action-RPG with a new twist. I can't get enough. But it's certainly no big-time MMORPG. It's just an action-rpg with a fairly deep online experience.

This and Mythos will keep the short-attention span part of me happy for a long long time.
If HGL flops, I wonder if it will influence the development of D3.
Tobold why do you insist on reviewing games of a genre you do not like? I don't like mini-vans, so I don't drive them. Stop playing action games unless you can review them at face value. You really aren't much of an authority to rate games from genres you hate.

Agreed on the authority part. But when I wrote about upcoming MMORPGs, several people said "Hey, you forgot to mention Hellgate London", thus I needed to test and review it. Actually there are action RPGs I like (see my recent review of Overlord).

Anyway, use your own brain. If I say that the game is causing me video game sickness because of mouse look control and I won't buy it because of that, that doesn't mean that HGL is unsuitable for the rest of the gaming world. My advice as always is to ignore all reviews and play the demo. Yeah, a demo can't be a perfect representation of a game, but if you already hated the demo, what are the chances that you'll love the real game?
A gig and a half? A gig and a goddamn half? I've got entire games that are smaller than that.
boring visuals (everything looks the same)
generic quest
horrible voice acting
repetitive combat

Geez when you put it like that suddenly I understand why everyone is saying its an MMO.
Played the demo. Find it quite ok, have to concur with the other opinions.

Gfx is too slow for the look (HL2 played smoother on my machine and looked better). I get suicidal tendencies when I walk through "just another" burned out, barren, deserted road or tunnel or cellar. Similar to Shadowmoon Valley in WoW by the way.

The quests are - bleh. Collect 3 foozletails or kill the boss for the leg. Stunning. No deep story, no NPC which I'd care about.

Just another action-item-collecting game like Diablo.

I like the shooter-feeling of the hunter though. Good for people with slower reflexes as myself.
Way to let a single player limited demo influence your judgment on the entire online multiplayer game. For someone who's covering MMOs and the like, this strikes me as awfully dismissive and flippant. I've been in the beta for a few months now and can honestly say that this game is a BLAST to play, even for its niggles and problems. The team is doing a great job getting updates out, and I'm looking forward to release day.
Frankly I'm stunned that they put this out as a demo. I would have bought the game based on its hype, and the amazing theatrical trailer alone.

Now? Well what here people said is true.

Repetitive and boring level design.
Boring monsters without any pace.
Not the best animation of the characters.
No story line to motivate anything really.

I spend most of my time looking for crates and barrels to smash up. Not exactly fun.

Diablo II was better frankly, because at least it had a story line and clear yet mysterious villains. It played faster. While the level design back when wasn't amazing it was kind of appropriate for its time.

HGL I basically played the demo to the end, waiting for something more interesting to happen. It really didn't. Diablo II was addictive from the get-go.

Maybe the game is better than the demo, but then why put out a demo that doesn't put the game in a good light?

Too bad, there haven't been many worthwhile games recently (BioShock was good but short). I really had high hopes for this one.
And Diablo had the coolest soundtrack, which was the first time I actually paid any attention to music in a game.
I was really looking forward to playing this game until I downloaded the demo.

I know it's been said before, but considering all the hype this game has seen, I will repeat it so that it might sink in:

The level design is linear and boring. It's a step back from Diablo II. Everything is a corridor, and there are no open spaces.

It's buggy as hell. The game breaks and you're forced to kill the process if you alt-tab, at least on my PC. Monsters randomly appear in the wrong places, then zip away randomly. Sometimes you kill something right next to you with your sword, and somehow its corpse appears 20 ft away from you. It reminds me of heavy lag in D2, only without a network.

The quests are stupid and remind me of poorly designed MMORPG quests. Diablo II's quests were much better.

There is no immersion. Everything feels fake, like an MMORPG.

The story sucks. The scripts suck. Their attempts at humor make the game itself seem more like a joke, though there were a few things that got a laugh out of me.

Overall, if you're expecting something to live up to the hype, you'll be disappointed. If you're expecting something to live up to D2's legacy, you'll really be disappointed. If you're looking for an MMORPG, you'll be disappointed. BUT if you have no expectations at all, you might be able to enjoy it for what it is.

As a demo, HGL sucks. The full game may be different.
But to be fair, there were a lot of cool features to. I hate to list only the negatives simply because they obliterated any chance for me, personally, to enjoy playing the game.

At first I didn't really like the mouse-movement system. I like being able to use the mouse while I'm playing, and this system made it impossible; however, after spending some time with it, I realized it wasn't that bad. My only gripe, now, is having to be within a certain range of things like chests (not too close, not too far) in order to open them, since you can only move your character's focus so far up or down.

The controls are generally responsive and fairly intuitive.

I like being able to break down parts into components, but what I really found interesting was the way the components could be used. There's a "nano forge" in town where you can use different components to upgrade your items. I haven't had a chance to mess with it much, but I think it's a great way to make junk items worth picking up and give players something to strive for at the same time.

You can also find design schematics for building new items. I found one for some sort of modified rifle, but I didn't have anywhere near the necessary components to make it. I found the schematics on a random drop, and I think that's actually pretty cool.

The way you customize your character is pretty nice. It's not as customizable as games like oblivion, but IMO that's a good thing. I don't want to spend 45 minutes creating a character that doesn't look like a disfigured serial killer from a bad horror movie.

When you hold your mouse over an item in your inventory, it shows you that item's stats and description as well as the stats/description of whatever you're currently wearing in the slot the item uses. It's a really cool feature, but it pissed me off at first because there's no label telling you which one is which. I only figured it out because the one you're looking at is SLIGHTLY (and I mean VERY slightly) highlighted, and it's the closest to your cursor. It's confusing when you hover over a sword and see three sword listings on the screen, with no obvious indicator for which one is which.

The graphics are pretty nice compared to most MMOs, but they're glitchy and sometimes it's obvious they took shortcuts to make the engine look like it had a feature it really doesn't. Like reflections on the windows... I went inside of an alleyway and looked at a window on one of the walls. In the reflection, I saw an open street with fire hydrants and such. Then I went out to the main street and looked in the mirrors, and I realized there weren't any reflections at all, just some generic map they're using for every reflection in the level.

And I was actually starting to get into the demo, but they way they finished it killed any interest I had. See, they don't tell you when the demo is over. Your quests all complete, and you wind up with two extra areas to explore. You explore them, find dead ends, and find yourself wondering what the hell you're supposed to be doing. Did you complete your quest? Is the demo bugged? Are there any more quests? Is the demo over? Were the creators on crack?

It was a bad experience, but it did have a few positives.
Well positives:

*) The hand grapple thing is pretty cool and fun.
*) The facial textures are amazingly realistic.
*) It's strange, also the train wrecks stuck against walls have flair.
*) The alien space ship is very cool.
*) Controls were sensibly good I thought.

Funny wasn't there discussion that releases getting pushed back? I think this one could have used another half year to liven up the level design and art-work (that every house is exactly the same is dead boring really.) And in terms of gameplay/population so that it's more than running from rare mob to rare mob. There is literally no danger of being overwhelmed by anything.

In Diablo II even the first little cave you enter is littered with mobs.

Again, could be the demo.
In all fairness the full game, especially in multiplayer, might be more fun than the demo. Maybe the "dungeons" get more varied, and with more abilities the gameplay gets more tactical. But then why did they put out a demo that doesn't show the game in the best light?

I just cancelled my preorder for Hellgate London. The main reason for that is that the mouselook controls cause me video game motion sickness. And that won't change in the full game. The other reasons are personal preference, I didn't like the scenario much. It is a strange mix of SciFi, demons, zombies, and aliens, that in my opinion doesn't go together well.

But I'd still say that you should download and play the demo for yourself to see whether you like the game or not. All reviews are subjective, and the mix of raving reviews from some fanbois and negative reviews from old MMO cynics like me isn't going to help you to decide.
Speaking of Fanbois, I just put up my review... :)

Bildo's Review
There are demons zombies and aliens in WoW. Does that not go well there either? :)
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