Microsoft is surely counting its blessings with two former Nintendo-centric developers showing at this years E3. Obviously, Silicon Knights' previous epic Eternal Darkness helped fill a void within the first year of the GameCube lineup, and SK is back again to provide a similar favour for Microsoft. Comparisons between these two games seem natural. Particle effects, colour schemes, and sweeping cinematic in-game camera are emphasised in both games, which creates an auteur atmosphere for players of Too Human and Eternal Darkness.
For most developers on the E3 floor this year, utilising the capabilities of the Xbox 360 seems to translate into creating large areas and fighting things in those areas. In Too Human, this idea is probably the most prevalent of any game here today, to unfortunate results. Wide corridors and sky-scraper ceilings leave us feeling small, and a camera so pulled back from the action makes for a lot of very small details crammed into a very large screen. While Eternal Darkness scared us with low resolution termites crawling across the tube, Too Human pulls our eyes to squinting at the detailed but distant action.
What sets off Too Human a bit from its peers is the colour scheme. Neon, neon everywhere, but not a drop to drink. Ramps are lit in red, enemies have blue or green lightpacks on their back, and your character changes weapons and lights that swirl and twist to create colourful tails. In other words, it's pretty. But for how pretty it is, it's equally barren. Seamlessly run from one area to the next, there'll be structures in all types of alien designs, but don't expect much interaction with those things. Players need just let the camera guide them to the next battle...
Which brings us to the combat. Gun toting and broadsword wielding, the main character is overly able to take out any baddie that comes across his path. Attacks of the melee kind are preformed with the right analog stick, which will target enemies nearest with a swift slash combination, enabling the player to easily navigate through the hordes with much ease. After a kill or a stun is preformed, the 'big guns' may be pulled out to finish any offender, and they automatically target enemies left in the immediate combat area. Unfortunately in this demo, enemies may be stunned, chillin' outside your melee reach (perhaps having a conversation with one another or mourning the loss of a comrade), and some will even be frozen in the air. Surely Silicon Knights will work out some of these kinks before too long.
While you can run away from conflict, the game encourages you to defeat the swarms by building up a power meter. Three types of moves are unlocked as you fight, and a slow motion sequence starts once the button is depressed. Flashy, neon, and progressively larger in range, the special attacks are cool looking, but as of yet, unnecessary to defeat any foe.
One can proceed through the gigantic areas with just the guns, or can choose to use only the melee attacks, but at this point enemies possess very little will to initiate an attack. The player must simply walk up to something and tap the joystick to get neutralise any ghoul. After one group is defeated, the trek begins to find the next bunch, and the next bunch… and the next... mind you all of the enemies, beside colour, attack in the same fashion. Cue the large boss and end scene.
This may be just an E3 demo, and the game may be only half completed, but what Silicon Knights has presented today doesn't add up to much more than a technical demonstration. At this point the game seems to be lifeless. Unfortunately it seems the most important and defining aspect of Too Human won't be shown on the floor today, and that's the story.
With a title which lends itself to expectations of dramatic humanist story telling, the removed and muted camera space was a little surprising. Alien groups spawning in large numbers and swarming towards your flailing sword give us a premise, and beautiful inscriptions that line the walls accompanied by bright, detailed environments give us the stage, but Silicon Knights had better advertise the script if it wants to set apart this game from the legions of other Xbox 360 games with the same game mechanics.