Hellgate: London

Review

posted 11/23/2007 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
Management of the inventory should be familiar to those that played Diablo 2. Your inventory is divided into a grid and each item takes up X amount of squares. It's been a few years now but I just found it a little annoying to have to go into my inventory when it's near full and having to maneuver items around so I can pick up a dropped item. It would've been nice to have it automatically shuffle the items in my inventory so I don't have to wait on clearing my surroundings of enemies so t hey don't whomp on me as I poke around my backpack and make room. Since there's a ton of items you'll come in contact with, there's a locker in every station where it essentially doubles the amount of items you can hold. Even with the spare inventory you'll spend a lot of your time deciding on what to keep, what to break down, and what to sell but really there's probably not an inventory large enough to really be enough as I encountered many items I wanted to save to either upgrade for later or to trade with a friend.

For those that played a lot of Diablo 2 mulitplayer, you probably played with someone that horded all the items that fell from an enemy. It really sucked if you were a range attacker since you were never near the body when the enemies died. Flagship Studios did a great job in installing a system where drops were specific for you. If you're playing with a few people and a monster dies, the drops you see will only be available to you and the same for other party members. There's no more hording now as you can slowly walk up to the fallen items and take them without having to worry someone will come by and gank it from you. The items dropped will have more of a chance to be usable by your class as well but you'll definitely get plenty of unusable items that can be used for trade, break down, or sold for money. I hope other games use this system as it's one of the nicest ways to handle multiple people and items that become available.

If you're adventuring with friends and find items while on a level that others can use, you have to go back to town to trade which is rather annoying. Why can't I just pull up an item and point to one of my party members to give to them? Instead I have to clog my inventory until we can all get back to town so that way we can initiate a trade. You can't drop items for others to pick up though which is something that seems a little backwards.

A nice little feature is that you can now break down items into various components. If you find items that are of lesser value than the one you are using or items that your class can't use, just break it down and you can use the parts to upgrade your other items. The parts can also be used to create brand new items through blueprints or asking a person in town to do it. Whereas in Diablo 2, you had to teleport back to town to sell it or drop the item altogether, Hellgate: London gives you the option of taking it apart and clearing room in your inventory on the spot. I really like this addition and it really helps that I don't have to horde everything and go to town all the time to get rid of it as the spare parts are also as valuable as the money you can get for them.

Just like ole Diablo, you'll be able to increase your weapon's abilities by plugging in different enhancements. The enhancements come in different categories from batteries to relics to ammo and will physically change the look of the weapon. Some of the changes are more dramatic than others but I do like that you're able to see the enhancement on your weapon. What I am curious about is why are weapons the only things that can be enhanced? No armor or shields are upgradable and that's odd considering that some of the enhancements seem to fit this mold such as increasing an attribute or adding a regeneration of power or health. You're left with just weapons which seems to be a little limiting and a step back. Since the game's patched constantly, I hope they add armor that can be enhanced in a later update.

One of the features that I really like about Hellgate: London is the ability to upgrade and downgrade items. By downgrade I mean for items that you augmented with relics, fuel or some augmentation you can use a machine to remove it for a price. Remember in Diablo where you'd put a gem into a sword and wish you had it back later on to use in another item? The de-augmenter lets you do this and it's a great feature of the game so you don't just sit there and hold an augmentation until the right item comes to you. Just use it and know you'll be able to reuse it later on. The two machines to upgrade your items can really add value to items you get early in the game. I like that they don't become worthless and you can increase the value and usefulness of various items with some money or spare parts.

A minor frustration though is the interface to upgrade your items with components. You're presented with two grids with the left grid being the place to put the item you want to upgrade and the right grid lets you put the components required for the upgrade. Four components are needed to upgrade the item and you're given the ones needed and the exact amounts when you place the item on the left grid. So, why doesn't game automatically put the items from your inventory into the right grid and upgrade it? You're forced to drag each component one by one and then press the upgrade button making it a little tedious.

Graphics range from the pretty good to the ok now that was average looking deal. The monsters for the most part are made up really well with some nice models and some good motions. Zombies trudge towards you, maggots squirm at you, and screechers flap their batty wings as their fly towards you. The monsters come in all shapes and sizes with some looming pretty large over you while you'll also find some small enemies on the other end of the spectrum. For the most part, I liked the variety of the monsters available. The effects generated by certain weapons are pretty impressive. I really like how fire is done in the game and how enemies burst into flames from certain weapons. Some of the nova or thorn effects where they radiate out from you or an enemy you hit seem pretty plain. They're just generic beams of light that aren't really that impressive. The customizability of your characters and the amount of different shapes of armor and weapons really add variety to the game though. The cut scenes are first rate though and they are certainly fun to watch. They exhibit the high quality that was also present in Diablo 2. For the most part, the game looks pretty good but it's not a game that's going to blow you away visually.
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