Imagine, if you will, the quaint city of London overrun with all manner of creature from zombies to skeletal fiends. A London where Hell has literally forced its way through the surface to wreak havoc on the human population above. This is the world of Flagship Studios’ Hellgate: London. Masterminded by Bill Roper, creator of Diablo and Diablo II, it is easy to see this influence in Hellgate’s quick gameplay.
Speaking of gameplay, I refer to it as ‘quick &amp; light’ as it plays as a first-person or third-person actioner and feels fast-paced and fun, similar to Serious Sam. You can choose from a variety of class types, each with their own abilities and play styles. These are taken from standard stereotype characters such as a dual-wielding swordsman, gun-toting marksman, shield and sword-toting guardian, etc. The game’s switching back and forth from ranged to melee combat is smooth and adds to the fun of the experience. Hellgate features a campaign that you take part in, however the player can always go back to previous areas and fight to gain experience as well. Characters level and gain experience much like they do in Diablo II which adds to the fps-light feel. Items can be upgraded a-la Diablo II and merchants are central to the game. By selling the loot you find you can buy health/power potions, new equipment, etc. Missions will lead you from the surface to subway lines, sewers, and even hell dimensions.
Graphically, Hellgate is nice. The game does not look like the latest &amp; greatest as even with DirectX 10 features enabled the game’s textures can be a bit bland. The post-apocalyptic landscape is done very well and is…depressing as it should be. Equipment looks sharp and weapon/spell effects do the job nicely. Exploding and destructible objects also add to the experience of tearing up the city even more than it already was.
Hellgate’s score is better than you’ll find in most Hollywood flicks out there and reminds me of the score to George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead somewhat. In fact, the score adds so much to the game that the fps-light feel goes away and anxiety goes up when it starts blaring. Sound design is equally good, with ambient sounds such as paper ruffling across the destroyed roads of Piccadilly Circus and the distant sounds of whaling zombies and screams of survivors.
Now to the part where Hellgate: London falls apart: BUGS! This game was released way too early with not enough QA testing done on enough rig types as so many games are these days. This is unfortunate as the bugs skew review scores on this game everywhere. This game would have been fun enough to survive a few months more testing before release. The game is virtually unplayable in DirectX 10 and freezes/crashes randomly in DirectX 9 mode. The problems don’t stem from the test rig we used either, sporting a high-end dual-core processor and 8800gtx video card, we should have been able to tear the game up like a hot knife through butter. Instead we end up with a buggy mess on our hands when we really want to love this game. We have lost our place on missions soo many times to the game’s inexplicable crashing…very annoying.
Overall, we would highly recommend Hellgate for a fun popcorn-game if it were not for the horrible bugs still plaguing it.
From E3 Demo: