Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monday Night Combat, and Too Human...Doesn't Suck. An Open Apology.  

Games: So Monday Night Combat is out. If you haven't taken a look, check out the free demo available on Live.

Despite having one of the longest and most tiring days in recent memory, I was able to get a couple hours in before falling asleep. While I'm usually a solo player, this is definitely a game that benefits from having real teammates, and I was fortunate enough to jump into a group where almost everyone knew each other.

To be sure, the meat of the experience is had in the 6-on-6 Crossfire mode. Having live players to go up against while trying to take out the enemy's money ball was a great time, and although I tend to favor the Tank class, I was having quite a bit of fun with the Sniper. I hope to spend some more time with it this week, but based on my experience this evening, I would really only want to do it with people I knew. I can't imagine it would be half as fun with strangers.

Then again, that's pretty true for just about any game, isn't it?


Games: My review for BioShock 2 is in the can, look for it soon at GameCritics.


Games: In what is likely to be the biggest, most unexpected surprise of the year (for me, anyway) GameCritics podcast host @TimSpaeth finally convinced the rest of us to partake in a group play/discussion on 360’s Too Human for an upcoming episode.

What was the surprising part? I actually liked it.

If you've ever listened to the podcast, you've probably heard Tim talk about Too Human, or at least mention it. In fact, it gets brought up so often that it's basically a running gag on the show.

The rest of us have ribbed him about his love for the title dozens of times, and he's always taken it in good humor. However, I think that we all assumed he was slightly crazy. After all, Too Human took a serious critical beating when it was released, to the point that it was almost an industry punchline. A large part of that had to do with a general reaction to Silicon Knights’ head man Dennis Dyack on a personal level, but it's still common to ask people what they think of the game apart from Dyack and get a negative response. The words “garbage" or "worthless" are descriptors that come up a lot in conversations I've had.

To be perfectly honest, I was dreading having to play the game after hearing so much bad about it. I figured I'd put in a half an hour, vomit in a bucket, and then think up some more jokes at Tim's expense. However, that's not what happened. Not at all.

While the game is certainly unconventional in several ways, I have to say that it didn't have much difficulty grabbing my interest and I was actually quite fascinated with some of the choices on display -- things like the new take on a classic hack-and-slash control scheme, or the way the game has reinterpreted Norse myths into cyberspace metaphors. It's pretty clever, really.

Oh, and the loot? It falls like rain in a monsoon season.

Too Human's a perfect example of a concept that should appeal to a lot of players (Norse myths as cybertech -- in a hack-and-slash!!)  but I can understand how the final, gotta-chew-on-it expression of that concept would catch some people off guard. However, after putting three hours into it, I was actually wondering how so many people who reviewed it ended up being so negative. It's certainly different, but I haven't seen anything that was outright bad or wrong. So far, anyway.

After having said all that, I do feel as though I owe both Too Human and Tim an apology -- I'm definitely a believer in trying things before you talk and I’ve spent my review career giving underdogs the benefit of the doubt, but this is absolutely one time when I was too complacent. In Too Human's case, I was content to trust the consensus and go along with the crowd, and that was wrong. I'm certainly not proud.

Mea culpa.

What next?

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3 comments: to “ Monday Night Combat, and Too Human...Doesn't Suck. An Open Apology.


    Too Human was definitely underrated -- it had it's problems (for me, mostly the repetitive level design, devoid of any interesting features beyond creatures to kill) but it tried to accomplish something different, and mostly succeeded. I'd love to see a sequel with layers of refinement, while keeping the core game play unchanged.

    For some reason, I put TH in the same category as Shadowrun (the MP FPS) -- unfortunately, a lack of content and a gross art design doomed it, but on game play alone it deserved to challenge the most popular FPS' on the market.

    Hope to one day see sequels to both games. (Much more optimistic about TH.)


    I remember defending Too Human on the messageboards back when it was released, and I remember you were down on it then based mostly on the demo.

    Although Too Human has some serious problems, I liked it quite a lot in the end. It's no Bionic Commando, but it's obviously quite a bit better than people say. My main issues with it are user-interface stuff and certain needlessly opaque parts of the game system towards the middle of the game, but when the game comes together and "works" it is really something, making "one-on-many" combat feel more thrilling and different than it does in any game I've ever played.


    Ryan> You know, now that I'm a little further in the game, I see what you mean about it being repetitive. I'm in the second "world" and I found it to be ridiculously, punishingly long. As much as I enjoy the ideas and the story, if the rest of the levels in this game are as long as this one was, I don't know if I'll be able to get through it.

    Matt> I do remember playing the demo and I thought it was horrible at the time. Clearly, this is not a game that you can grok in five minutes. = )

    That stuff aside, I definitely agree with you that it's got a lot of good things, but as I said to Ryan above, the length of the levels and the lack of things happening in them apart from combat is a pretty serious downside. I'm still hanging in there, but I hope I'm over the hump...