Overall Rating: 1.5/5 Stars
Sometimes, a video game is engineered with perfect precision, each of its various elements given meticulous care to render in highest quality by the most qualified professionals after a significant time investment; yet, in the end, these great-looking, slick-playing games still fail to capture the collective imaginations of gamers because the storyline is too bland, the characters too unimaginative, and no plot points are presents to make players truly care.
Other times, production quality meets visionary creativity in a sublime blending of both mechanical and whimsical components, where both dream-like ideas and proud craftsmanship are put together to release an outstanding video game. Such examples may include, among many others, the original Super Mario Brothers platformer, Final Fantasy VII, Earthworm Jim, and the legendary Halo franchise.
But, in yet other instances, a team of human beings with the same innovative concept are passionate about their ethereal epiphany; yet, after much effort, fail to produce a product with a play quality that matches the vividness of their mind’s eyes. One such example is Too Human, a title released for the Xbox 360 by Microsoft in 2008.
The player follows the god Baldur in a setting apparently loosely based in Norse mythology. In this version of the myth, the Norse gods indulge themselves in cybernetic implants and enhancements that serve to, through technology, further expand and magnify their powers.
Baldur, however, is resistant to try these technological techniques. This reluctance, in addition to his compassion for the human beings of Earth, earns him a pariah-like status among the other gods of the Norse pantheon, who refer to him as “too human,” thus the game’s title.
So, Baldur sets off on a human-sympathetic quest during which he fights numerous robots and other malicious machinations, while facing the ethical choices of whether to give in to the temptation for cybernetic enhancements, or endure the more human-like discipline of improvement through natural practice and strengthening. With sword in hand, he enters the long battle ahead.
This game looks alright. Graphically, it is nothing impressive, and fairly standard. Perhaps at its initial release it appeared a little better, but in time has not shown any standing testaments to its image quality. Some of the possibilities are there, such as hordes of advanced robot menaces, but never fully meet their potential for menacing countenance.
The sound of this game is sub-par. The most prominent noise is the effect of Baldur’s constant sword-swinging. In addition, some soldiers or other NPCs occasionally make remarks intended as comic relief, but come off as stale and eye-rollingly dull. Baldur’s own voice fails to be distinctive, which is not only a red flag for making a character dear to its controller, but can also actually cause confusion in scenes where multiple characters are speaking.
Creativity and Innovation
The basis of the story, the Norse pantheon engaging in cybernetic indulgences to enhance their deified powers, is possibly very interesting. But in the end, the “powerful guy who is sympathetic to puny humans” angle is far from original, and the overall game experience even perhaps pays homage a little too closely to the popular God of War franchise.
The gameplay is also somewhat flawed; departing from some of the usual norms and strictures of play control, this title actually elects to use a control stick for attacking. Thus, rather than press a button, the player is relentless shoving the joystick around, in an attempt to slay surrounding foes. This presents a more difficult task for accuracy, and in areas where the somewhat-fixed camera angle is unfavorable (another flaw), can be aggravating.
In the end, Too Human is Too Average, with even its original plotline failing to make up for its basic specifications and mediocre design, flaws and all. This one earns one and a half stars out of five.