Buy this game for the single-player mode, and cross your fingers the online mode gets fixed
Hellgate: London is an action-packed RPG in the tradition of the Diablo series. It feature both a lengthy single-player campaign and an online, co-op mode. At this point, I would only recommend buying this game for the single-player mode. It can last up to 40-plus hours. It’s a hell of a lot of fun. And if you want to play as different characters, it could last you months.
Unfortunately, the online, multiplayer mode suffers from a variety of technical glitches that include slowdown, latency, and even crashes. It’s not uncommon for a new game to go through such growing pains, and we are hoping that these situations will be remedied in the future. Perhaps if you take your time with the single-player mode, these online issues will eventually be addressed.
As the minions of Hell go about their business of ruling the planet, an organized resistance is formed, taking cover in the London underground. And we literally mean underground. Sewers, tunnels, subways, and other subterranean regions are connected through a maze of corridors in which these freedom fighters live and travel. Missions will have characters occasionally return to the Earth’s surface to perform various fetch quests and battle hordes of demons. The gameplay is streamlined for action. It’s fast-paced with plenty of combat, dungeon crawling, and leveling-up. It’s an RPG without the filler, like a Seinfeld episode without the commercials.
The resistance is comprised of three main groups: The Templar, the Cabal, and the highly trained military known as The Hunters. There are six different classes to choose from, two in each group. Each class has its own unique skills and attributes. The Marksman and the Engineer belong to the Hunters faction. They are skilled at ranged combat and exploit the latest technologies for their weapons, armor, and other gadgets. Weapons such as the sniper rifle will require the most skills to use effectively as there is no lock-on for aiming. If you’re a shooter fan, then the Marksman is the class for you. Other weapons, including magic spells, don’t require manual aiming. Most employ a lock-on system for targeting the most immediate threat, and other weapons such as bombs, electrical charges, and fire blasts will have a large destruction radius resulting in lots of collateral damage.
The Cabalist makes use of both science and magic. The Evoker and the Summoner use dark magic to conjure and control various demons and spells. These classes are best thought of as middle-of-the-road classes, and are definitely a good starting point for beginners. The Blademaster and the Guardian belong to the Templars. They are highly skilled at melee combat and will see the most intense action of all of the classes. The Blademaster is best used for offensive attacks. It’s the only character that can wield two weapons at the same time. If it’s hack and slash action that you’re looking for, the Blademaster is the cutting edge. The Guardian plays it safer with more a defensive approach, using armor and shields to protect against an enemy attack.
Hellgate: London is never the same game twice. The dungeons and other levels are all randomly generated, which has its good and bad points. On the plus side, it keeps the game from becoming too predictable. You never know what lies around the next corner. Loot is also randomly generated. You’ll find all kinds of goodies from armor to weapons that you can add to your inventory, which I should mention allows you to carry a generous portion of items. However, managing your inventory manually can be a huge chore. But while it can be fun to find these items, there is no real sense of reward for having earned them. It all seems to be the luck of the draw. The only real reward comes in the form of leveling-up after you’ve done battle with an enemy or completed a task.
There’s no disguising the repetitive nature of the gameplay. Even with the randomly generated levels and dungeons, after a few hours you are more than aware that things have been mixed up just for the sake of them being mixed up. You will still have to deal with the same enemies, just at different locations in the dungeons. Some of the orders of events seem to have no sense of context such as when you face the strongest enemy first when you have all your powers, only to face the weaker ones afterwards when you can’t possibly lose.
Monsters, demons, he-beasts, she-beasts, and other frightening anomalies such as hovering eyeballs will attempt to thwart your progress at every turn. They possess different attack patterns which will challenge your reflexes, even at ranged distances. These creatures will crawl, lunge, run, fly, float, and attempt to ambush you from the shadows using stealth techniques. Monsters that don’t personally attack will launch a multitude of projectiles. You can defend yourself with a shield or just dodge the incoming.
Eventually you will be able to discern the different demons’ patterns and initiate the various moves required to neutralize the threat. You will encounter many of the same creatures throughout the game. For the most part, they are well rendered and display convincing animation, although it’s difficult to debate the locomotive mechanics of a giant brain since we have no model to base a theory on. The character models are imaginative but perhaps a bit too diverse. There’s not much consistency with the demons. It seems as though Hell is not selective enough with its immigration policy. At the same time, the story does little to explain the origin of these horrendous species.
Boss battles are as challenging as they are refreshing. It’s nice to find a character that has different, and more deadly’ attack patterns. The melee characters fare better in boss battle because of the close proximity to its weaknesses. For my money, I enjoy the immediacy and instant gratification of melee combat with the Blademaster.
Environments are far too repetitive. You’ll see the same textures, tunnels, streets, corridors, and ruins over and over. In the multiplayer mode, you will meet with other players in the various connecting underground junctions. Here you will be able to meet and greet other players as well as swap and shop your loot. Once you enter into a co-op game, you’ll revisit the levels that you played in the single-player mode. The multiplayer component helps to lessen the feeling of deja vu, but the latency and slowdown can make it a really frustrating experience. A couple of recent patches helped with some of the glitches, but it’s still got a ways to go to make the multiplayer component a selling feature.
Hellgate: London is definitely worth the price of admission for the single-player mode, but it would be an incredible bargain if the online mode was of similar quality.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.3 Graphics
Excellent character models and animation. Too much texture and environment repetition. 3.8 Control
The single-player mode responds well, unfortunately the online mode suffers from slowdown and latency. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Good music. Sparse voiceovers, but good acting. 4.5 Play Value
Randomly generated levels keeps the gameplay from becoming too predictable. There is hope for the online mode. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.