Where El Diablo Dares…
After Diablo 2 I haven’t seen much in the way of good hack and slash RPGs. Games like Harbinger went the Diablo-like isometric way, while others like Severance: Blade of Darkness went 3D, only to fall flat due to gameplay issues. Then came Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, and my interest was piqued again although it was a very different game from the Diablo series.
Enter Hellgate—from Flagship Studios, formerly a part of Blizzard and knowing these guys we knew we were in for all the hacking, slashing, and spellcasting goodness of its spiritual predecessor.
In Hellgate you’ll choose from one of six different classes that are unique from ground up, heavy melee specialists: guardians (defence) and blademasters (offence); long range warriors: marksmen (snipers) and engineers (gadget maestros), and the magical cabalists:—evokers (energy manipulators) and summoners.
The beauty of the character development lies in the unique skill trees of each class and subclass, and unique weapons that each class wields and tactics that each class must employ.
For example as a guardian, you will have enemies surrounding you a lot. Most Guardian skills are actually more beneficial to you or devastating to enemies when you’re surrounded as the effects stack with each additional enemy! As a marksmen you need to nimbly avoid melee attacks while pumping the baddies full of lead (poison, fire, whatever!)—else you’ll find yourself on the wrong end of a horny tentacle!
Set in post apocalyptic, (and demon infested), London you are a Templar Knight, fighting warrior monks and engaging the enemy from hidden bases. Typically RPG-like, there is a main quest which you can follow, and a lot of side quests which will net you currency, weapons and armour, and most importantly, experience points. An interesting spin-off from Diablo is the weapon upgrades—you need to slot upgrades into weapons that are upgradeable, thereby increasing their power or giving them new damage types.
I spent a lot of time deciding which upgrade to use where, and which skill to choose when my character levelled up. Thankfully, you can get back all your items by deconstructing them from the weapon—so you needn’t worry about losing valuable items on older, less powerful weapons. Gameplay is quite balanced for all the character classes, though some classes like cabalists and engineers are weaker earlier on in the game. The great thing about skills in Hellgate is that you can actually use the abilities you uncover, and make use of every skill—unlike traditional RPGs, where skills are hidden behind numbers and die rolls.
Rating : 8/10
Developer : Flagship Studios
Publisher : EA Games
The developers have spent effort modelling the environs around London (obviously!) and it shows although environments do get a little repetitive after awhile. Infinite customisations to weapons and your skills, and plenty of baddies to crush make Hellgate one pleasant joyride! My only complaint is the action tends to get repetitive over a period of time—which is not a complaint against the game, but the overall genre of hack n slash RPGs in general.