Highlander Preview
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Highlander box art
System: X360, PS3, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: WideScreen Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Eidos Interactive 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: TBA 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Pending 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

July 17, 2008 - Like most people of my generation, I have fond (yet tearful) memories of the original Highlander movie. Sure, the sequels were a hit or miss, but something about the original Highlander was truly unique and made it one of the most memorable movies of my lifetime. So, when I heard the news that a game based on the Highlander universe was in the works, I was more than a little nervous. But, so far Highlander looks like it may be shaping up rather well.

Highlander screenshot

The story involves a brand-new character, Owen MacLeod, who currently lives in New York City in the not-too-distant future. He has been alive for over 2000 years and is now in hot pursuit of an evil immortal named Kraken. Interestingly enough, the story has been penned by David Abramowitz, who was one of the writers of the Highlander television show. As such, there will be several elements from the TV show including the presence of Hunters and Watcher, who have been said to form a "pivotal" role in the game.

The scope of the game is very wide, and in addition to the modern timeframe, gamers will also be able to play through several of Owen's flashbacks that reach as far back as the Roman empire. The action will also take place at a variety of locales including Pompeii, Japan, and of course, the Scottish highlands.

But enough about story, what about the action? Highlander, at its core, is a franchise about eternal fighting, and of course, decapitation, and it looks like Highlander will feature plenty of rolling heads. However, if you're not careful, one of those heads could be yours. Since the only way to kill an immortal is to cut off its head, the health system works in a rather interesting way. Instead of measuring how much "life" your character has, the system will instead measure fatigue. As your character gets more and more fatigued, it will be easier for foes to take advantage of the situation and lop off your head.

Highlander screenshot

As far as battle is concerned, Highlander is going to feature some pretty standard brawling mechanics. Levels will feature multiple enemies, and you'll have your choice of swords for use in battle. There will also be special environmental attacks that will allow you to use things you find around you to your advantage when confronting an enemy.

And of course, as you progress in the game, you will be able to harness the power of the Quickening. The mystical Quickening power is garnered from defeating an immortal, so it will get stronger as you progress through the game. It will give you special powers that include a lightning summoning technique, referred to as channeling the source, as well as better weapon skills.

Highlander screenshot

In addition to the improving Quickening system, you can also advance your character's stats by gaining experience points. These points are separate from the Quickening and are gained by fighting enemies and exploring hidden parts of the game.

One very interesting facet of the title that is a little bit unexpected is the fact that there is no planned multiplayer. The game's developers have said that they want to focus strictly on the single-player aspect of the game, and there will be absolutely no co-op or online modes whatsoever. While this may turn some gamers off, and will probably decrease the replay value, it might not be all bad, as long as they can deliver a truly memorable single-player experience.

But for now, it seems the jury's still out on Highlander. While several of the elements of the movie and television show that are included in the game will surely please fans, the exclusive focus on the one-player experience may turn off some potential fans. But in any case, it will be quite a while until we can get our hands on this one, as it is planned for release sometime early next year.

By Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer

Game Features:

  • Four distinct environments and 18 missions: Play in NY (near future), Pompeii before the eruption, the Highlands in the medieval ages, and Japan during the Samurai era.
  • Three weapons to master: Katana, Claymore, and Double Sword.
  • Nine navigations features: Dagger climbing, Ropes, Dynamic ladders, Swan dive, Freefall, Traverse climbing, Cannonball, Beams, and Ziplines.
  • Quickening techniques: Resurrection, Chi balance (stamina), Weapon Mastery (Fireblade, Wind Fury, Stone Armor), and Channeling the Source (charge up for powerful attacks).
  • 77 characters: New main character (Owen Macleod) as well as familiar characters from series/movies (Methos).

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