Loki PC

It’s been a while since I had a chance to play a console game, never mind a PC game. But never fear for I am here. After building up your confidence with such an awe inspiring introduction, I fear I may have to coax you into having a sense of comfort in the words I have so meticulously used for the purpose of the following preview.

The subject at matter dropped through my letter box around two weeks ago, since then I have been battling with the game to not only just play it, but also make it work… I’m sure your wondering how epic indeed the battle with the game and its mechanics actually were? No? Ok then fine, well I shall begin.

I received the preview version of the new hack and slash/RPG game developed by Cyanide, previous work from these guys that you may have heard of… Chaos League (a very good and often under-rated game) and also its Cycling Manager games, this shows a step away from its regular formula. Upon installing, which takes a surprisingly long amount of time, as a guide almost as long as the C&C Decade pack with all the games installed.

So what’s the story this time?

Seth the God of Evil has managed to break free from the seal cast upon him by his vengeful brother Osiris, determined to take his revenge and vent all his pent up anger on the world, Seth takes up arms by teaming up with Gods from not just one mythology but FOUR! The game is named after the Norse trickster God Loki, the North European counterpart of Seth. The basic storyline takes place as each of the four heroes in each of the mythologies battle against the allies of Seth, during the course of the game you will play the parts of two female and two male characters as is seen as the standard archetypes when playing hack and slash role playing games.

How she look?

Upon initial loading, I found out that the main menu does not let you adjust any of the graphics, other than the resolution of the screen which for some reason decided my monitor was not capable of the resolution I chose. Cut the hate though as this is a preview version with niggles that needed to be ironed out. Finally I manage to get into the main game. The game reminds me of Guild Wars with its HUD menu, actually every hack and slash game on the pc I have ever played is similar, that’s not such a bad thing though.

The game itself has obviously taken its cues from the hack ‘n slash games of old. Criticised in other previews I have seen for its over-use of browns, low poly models and the grass (which I have to agree with doesn’t look stellar), also this has an effect on you being able to see the dropped loot which again I would hope is dealt with during the rest of the development time. I think the game manages to look good in sections, without making the eyes bleed with its excellence. Since this is the first game in maybe a series? I think Cyanide made a good move with concentrating on the Gameplay and its storyline rather than the looks and implementation of whichever graphics shader everyone seems to be obsessed with right now. The game is not too graphic intensive although I do admit at times it did slow my trusty old graphics card down. The fact it worked on my card though was indeed a glimmer of hope for me that I don’t have to upgrade too desperately in the near future as it was playable, but not spectacular. However I should also point out in the version I played there were also lighting bugs, this doesn’t help with the automatic (and unchangeable) brightness settings, this however should be rectified by the time the game is released.

Story… blah, Gameplay Rarr!!

In the preview version you play the Norse Warrior, a big brutish character of similar build to Arnie in Conan the Barbarian (also featuring in his own game in the coming 12 months). Being such a big character, it’s quite obvious his biggest attributes would be his strength and his power, speed is not his forte.

As I stated previously the HUD is very old school influenced so it would make sense that the control system did the same right? Well this is indeed the case, I found myself naturally becoming accustomed to the controls without even so much as a second glance at the control system.

Taking its cue from the hack ‘n slash games of old, the battles are simple, requiring only a mouse click on whatever you wish to subject the enemy to, whether that be a brutish smash from your hammer or, as in the earlier stages, utilising your fists (Hurting bombs I calls them just like in Rocky) and vicious swipes. Each hit results in the amount of damage showing up over the victim’s head with each attack.

Typical male aren’t I? Straight into the battle sequence, gushing instead of talking about the grace of the movement or the levelling up sequencing. Well I shall rectify that, movement of your character is effected by a click of the mouse in which ever direction you would like to walk to, or at least try to walk to as not all of the scenery is mountable.

Levelling up your skills is varied and customisable and as players progress through combat they are rewarded with two different measures. The first reward is in simple skill points and attribute points which are earned when players level up, the second increases the power-up bar in the bottom centre. When this yellow bar is filled, you are rewarded with newer abilities such as faster movement and other bonuses like faster health regeneration, this works out well as only so many potions can be used at any one time.

As you level up through the game, so do the enemies, so you will find that if you enter a new area and you are worried that the balancing is not there… fear not! The developers have cleverly implemented a system where the enemy is never ridiculously over-powered regardless of your level of ability. I can see how this will be fun for speed runs, but it is also a god send for those who hate running around level grinding for hours to move onto a separate area.

Its only a preview you know, summarise!!

Well, how to summarise in a healthy manner without going off on a tangent? I actually enjoyed the preview and from what I have seen so far, Cyanide and Ascaron have a game that looks… not the most graphically compelling, but plays very well and has an intriguing concept behind it all.

In the full and final finished game you will be able to play as four characters, in the preview this was limited to just the one so expect a different take on the adventure from each of the other characters. The controls are simple and not convoluted or complicated, preferring to embrace the old school without alienating the new breed of PC gamers. The soundtrack whilst not award winning, doesn’t infringe on the game too much and prefers to play away in the background which is always good, you therefore tend to only pick out the random cries of the dying and the clash of weapons/spells over the music. There is not much time now between the final development stages and the actual release for the game is Q3 2007, so don’t expect a massive overhaul in the graphics engine which is functional but not as dire as some game sites’ previews would have had you believe. I am actually looking forward to seeing how the game plays out, but I would advise those with an interest maybe to invest in a GeForce 7000+ series gfx card (or the ATI equivalent) to be able to run the game at a good rate so it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment. Hack ‘n Slash fans, give me your swords!

Release Date: August 2007