A Great Action-MMO
When originally asked me to review Hellgate: Global, my mind went back to a very dark, murky place. Let’s go back to Halloween 2007. Hellgate: London was being released after years of development and was compelling to say the least. Originally built by at least part of the ex-Diablo team, it was a twisted and dark MMORPG based off the novel as well as comic books of the Hellgate London series. The teaser trailers were glorious. It is the only game, other than SWTOR, that I have ever pre-ordered.
My friends and I even went so far as to sit down to discuss whether the almost $200 lifetime subscription fee was worth it. We talked about our World of Warcraft days, thinking if someone had offered us this same deal we would have been fools not to take it. We’d be fools seeing the countless times over the past four years we had gone back to WoW like addicts. In the end, we decided to stay away from the lifetime subscription fee on the small off chance that it didn’t live up to our high hopes.
We know how that turned out.
The game was a train wreck. Graphically, it was okay which was about the only thing it had going for it. Load times were horrendous. It had then very high system requirements. The looting style was basically a Diablo grab-for-all, but each player at least had their own items to grab. The game lacked any type sandbox or real world to play in. Classes were severely unbalanced. Parties would split into different instances mid-combat. There lacked an economy and auction system worth any damn and the global communication between players was iffy at best.
However, everyone deserves a second chance and Hanbitsoft has taken advantage of this. In this review, we will focus on the mediocrity of an original game and its phoenix-like reincarnation from Hellgate: London to Hellgate: Global. HG:G has made much needed improvements turning it from a wannabe MMO into the real deal.
Aesthetics - 9
Hellgate London takes place in the aftermath of the Apocalypse. The gates of hell have opened up and humans have to flee to the subway system. You play through one of six classes in an effort to defeat all the demons and drive them back, and in this much the game is very story oriented. As is no surprise, it’s cast in a dark and crippled Earth. This planet has no sign of life and is adorned with fiery cracks from hell opening. The user interface is an amalgamation of Diablo and World of Warcraft: standard hotbar setup, while keeping some abilities mapped to the left and right-click. The music is annoying and combat sounds are intermittent and somewhat bothersome. Voice acting is on first click only: the NPCs say “hi” to you and nothing else. The UI is pretty decent, and keeps you informed of what’s going on in the game and around your character. In case you didn’t see the 20 foot tall flaming demon with bad breath casting a giant shadow over you, the game will tell you he spawned. Overall the aesthetics give the player a dark and bleak feeling as they explore a post-human Earth. On high, they really do shine.
Gameplay - 9
The combat is your somewhat standard third person view, so get ready to enjoy your character’s backside. Your have crosshairs and the game detects which NPC/player you are targeting, though hits are still done via dice-roll not straight FPS mechanics. Grouping is standard. There are raids for the super demons throughout the world. Combat may appear easy, however, much like Diablo there are three difficulty settings: Normal, Nightmare, and Hell. There are six classes to play: Evoker, Summoner, Blademaster, Guardian, Engineer, and Marksman. They give enough options to give players a match to their play-style. Do you want to carve through demons like a hot knife through butter? They have the class for you. Do you want to summon an army of demons to march through a battered and forgotten Tokyo? They’ve got you covered.
Crafting is unique in Hellgate. There are no skill points. You do not choose which profession you are. All you get are recipes and parts. Most gear can be broken down into its parts through right-clicking on it allowing you to turn useless gear into your new unique blade. Along the way you find recipes and once you find the parts you need for it, you put it together and have a new item. Recipes are randomly dropped. If you are up to your elbows in cash, then you can feel free to get it on the auction house.
There is a tutorial which gives you the basics. It is short, sweet, and gets you on the right track. Let’s be honest: pro gamers don’t need an introduction. Our l33tness will carry us all the way to the top. Right guys? Guys? Where’d you go?
The game keeps you informed of what is happening and what your quest progress is as you go in a way that is user friendly to any level of player. However, the map does not get marked for where to find things, which is either a plus or a negative depending on who you ask.
Now the part we all care about: Endgame. To be fair, this is my favorite part. You get to see the true power of a game in its end game: the true power of classes and min-maxing, the testicle-crushing difficulty the developer has created, and so much more. Fear not young Padawans, for Hellgate: Global has much to offer you. First and foremost, the game comes equipped with an economy. Unlike the original Hellgate: London, there is an auction at every (or almost every) station throughout the social hubs, allowing players to customize their gear. Most of the gear, as you level up, has options to socket or modify it with other items.
Secondly, what is more fun than tearing apart other players? Well, now Hellgate has a fully fledged PVP/arena system. Thirdly, there are new expansions with new dungeons, monsters, gear being added on a regular basis (about every six months) which gives new and difficult content to the player base. Some examples of this are where you must hunt down a powerful demon in the Abyssal tower instance. The newest expansion is where you follow the journey of an ancient warrior through the ruined city of Tokyo. Overall, the gameplay brings back the one against many combat players such as myself long for while creating brutally challenging scenarios for both the single player and multi-player adventures.
Innovation - 7
Frankly, Hellgate Global doesn’t do anything new. The majority of mechanics aren’t new. The idea of a futuristic demon world is definitely not common but is a new spin on an old idea. The game is doesn’t deviate too far from other hack and slash MMORPGs that we have come to expect from a large portion of the genre. Its biggest innovation is trying to blend the shooter with Diablo mechanics, and other games have done that better since.
Polish - 8
Hellgate Global has come a long way since its predecessor. The game has been finely polished from the rough gem it used to be. Load times are down while mechanics and targeting are far less buggy. The graphics aren’t as cutting edge as much of the player base would like to see, but still quite decent for a game getting on in years. Like it did before, Hellgate flows from one act to the next very well. My only real gripe is that I’d have liked to see more directed group content in place earlier on. Still, Hellgate of today is way more polished than Hellgate of yesterday.
Longevity - 9
There is plenty to keep players active constantly. With three difficulty settings, the gameplay lasts plenty long for even the most hardcore of players (assuming you are good enough to beat the hell difficulty setting). Each one of these opens up after the easier one is completed. It includes additional content such as the new Tokyo release, a Stonehenge zone, and a wide variety of interesting content all of which will keep players around. The game is story-driven so you will follow your characters progression throughout the narrative. At the end, there is a decent blend of endgame content as well as a PVP arena system to keep you matched against the player base. There is enough game content to keep you hooked and adequate new content to keep you playing. And of course there are the seasonal events and items to look forward to.
Social - 8
As far as social aspects go, Hellgate Global performs as well as expected. The chat system works well with an easy to use item-linking system. The auction system keeps players connected to the in-game economy. Players can purchase clan-creation tokens and create their own guild/clan. Although there is no guild house or player house, the social system allows players to stay connected to each other with an in game mail and friend system. There is even a group finder for various zones and encounters, a much needed addition. Most of all, the players are really helpful, and despite the odd duck here or there, the playerbase is friendly.
Value - 6
Hellgate Global, in this writer’s eyes, is a great value… at first. It runs on a Freemium model with an item mall. The item mall has both gear and items, including tickets to get you into the new zones. Without paying you cannot make it past act 2 (there are five acts plus additional content). The first two acts keep you interested thereby giving you an opportunity to explore the current content and letting you know whether or not you want to pay for the rest of the game. However, crippling players to not allow them additional content I found to be frustrating.
In conclusion, Hellgate Global creates a great sense of both horror and sci-fi. After its reincarnation, the developers have added all the extras that keep players both interested in the content and close knit as a player base. It’s a great Action-MMO, and right up there with the likes of Vindictus. If you are the type of player who finds themselves saying “I like those odds” and want a game that has testicle-crushing difficulty ™, this is the game for you.