Posts Tagged Titan Quest
There’s few games that don’t need an introduction, but I feel it’s safe to say Blizzard‘s action-RPG Diablo II: Lord of Destruction is one of them. Played and loved by millions of gamers worldwide, its reputation is spotless. Even an astonishing 10 years (not to mention a dozen patches) after release, its servers are far from dead. A prime example of great game design. Probably one of the most frequently mentioned “favourite games of all time”. A monumental success.
No surprise it has spawned a wide variety of imitators. Some set in sci-fi, some in steampunk, some in fantasy scenarios. Some small-budget titles, some huge projects. Some trying something new, some blatantly copying the initial formula. They come in all different kinds of flavors. In fact, there’s only one thing they all have in common: They failed. Not one game has been able to recreate, not to mention improve the experience of Blizzard‘s evergreen. Their premise flawed. Their mechanics broken. Their balancing imperfect.
Brave Amateurs. They do their part Sorry, I’ll stop this now.
Did I say not one game was able to recreate the original experience? My bad. In fact, one game was. In 2006 Iron Lore Entertainment released Titan Quest, which not only happened to be the company’s first game, but also the first worthy succesor to Diablo II.
Titan Quest’s goal is simple: Travel through ancient Greece, Egypt and China and slaughter every mythological creature historians have ever heard of. That’s obviously not the real goal. There’s a story about the old Titans breaking free buried somewhere under the corpses of satyrs, gorgons, centaurs, minotaurs and all other forms of -taurs, but it’s about as thin and neglegible as in the original. Besides, judging an action-RPG by its story is a bit like judging a three-course meal by its language skills.
Much more important is the question of where Titan Quest stands compared to Diablo II in terms of game flow. Now then: Does Titan Quest equal Diablo II amazing game flow? Short answer: No. Long answer: No, but it’s only off by a minor, minor degree.
For lack of better words, its balancing is amazing. The character system and combat mechanics work flawlessly. And the urge to hunt for better equipment is definetely there. In its best moments, Titan Quest is more than able to compete with Diablo II. And even during its worst moments it is still a worthy match. That being said, there’s no denying that Titan Quest‘s flow is not quite as perfect as Diablo II‘s.
Its biggest problem (apart from the “unusual” scenario ) is not so much an inherent flaw, as the lack of a certain je ne sais quoi, one big innovation that would forever put it above its colossal opponent. Instead of this one big step ahead, Titan Quest features a variety of small novelties, that give it a more contemporate feel.
Like how the game compares new equipment to the one you’re wearing automatically. Or the healing potion cooldown, that keeps you from gulping down your entire stock in one panicky fit. Or the fact that you can create townportals, anywhere at any time (even directly warp to those of other players). Or the physics engine that makes enemies fly gaily through the air and equipment roll around on the floor. Or the fact that enemies that will drop unique items will also be using them. Or how it has absolutely no loading screens once in game. Or how grass will swing aside when you run through it (or fire spells at it). Or how it has a variety of melee animations instead of repeating one over and over again. Or that you can give your minions rudimentary orders. Or the fact that you can reskill your character, instead of having to start all over.
And then there’s various areas where gaming as a whole has made a lot of progress in the six years between the two games. First and most obvious being the visuals. Titan Quest is an incredibly pretty game. And it’s not just the great textures, dynamic lighting and effects (though they certainly help). It’s more of a group effort. The wonderful animationwork plays a huge role here. As does the physics engine.
Then there’s audio. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not talking about music here. Titan Quest‘s generic orchestral soundtrack, while nice, is no match for Diablo II‘s legendary guitar shredding. I’m talking sound effects here. Each combat action has a unique corresponding sound effect, whether you’re attacking skeletons with bow and arrow or using a sword against satyrs, making it an oddly immersive experience. There’s nothing more rewarding than the low thump of mace-on-skeleton action. You can almost feel the impact going up your arm as you send their ribcages flying through the room (literally). This may sound like a minor thing now, but this being an action-RPG, you will hear those effects thousands of times.
That being said, not all is well in the world of Titan Quest. One of the biggest problems being the scenario. I feel a bit strange criticizing the game for choosing a mythological background since I’m probably the biggest mythology geek ever, having a fascination for all things ancient and made up. But as much as I loved the first part of the game, meeting the who-is-who of ancient greece, it does seem as if the developers were running out of decent myths by the time they reached ancient china. Instead, they had to resort to obscure myths and had me square off with various flavours of lizard-like creatures with unutterable names, which I don’t think is making the most of it. But at least you also get to whack your way through the terracotta army (which happens to be well known and making nice shattering sounds).
Perhaps the most amazing thing about all this, is that the game I’m talking about was actually a debut feature of a new development studio. Had I not known, I would have never guessed. Rarely have I seen another game that featured so much production quality and polishment in all corners, ranging from the main menu to the interface, graphics and audio. Which is why I was especially sad to see Iron Lore collapse under the staggering sales for its big-budget title.
Bottom Line: Is Titan Quest worth your while? Absolutely. If you liked Diablo II then you’ll like Titan Quest as well. And if you don’t, then perhaps you don’t even like video games. Honestly though, if you really don’t like action-RPGs, you should already have figured out by now that this game isn’t right for you.