Hellgate is failure

November 19, 2007

So Hellgate is here, after years of hype and hope from all of us aging, decrepit Diablo fans praying for Roper’s new studio to truly recapture that same recipe of addictive hack ‘n slash. HG:L seemed to promise everything, on paper: the same gameplay, a hawt 3d engine, randomized levels, and a Blizzard-quality experience considering they’re all ex-Blizzard. And I mean everyone knows that if you came from Blizzard, you can do no wrong! It’s about the people, not the company? Amirite?

pewpew laserguns. old meme, for an already dated game.

Except no, that last part is wrong. Horribly, terribly wrong. Let’s take NCSoft’s Guild Wars. Before I’m crucified by the GW players, I’ll state GW has many redeeming features. But it’s not WoW. Not even maybe. It’s doesn’t come close to providing the same quality and quantity of content and gameplay that WoW does. It’s popular becuase it’s free to play. That’s it. Does anyone honestly think that if Guild Wars was subscription based pay to play, that it would have the playerbase it has now? No. At this point, very few competing against WoW can support a subscription based system, because no-one can approach the same level of polish and class. Flagship’s other game, the upcoming Mythos (an MMO – supposedly), for eg, is(or rather will be) free to download and play and will probably make it’s money with micropayments. Microtransactions are not better. They’re simply the only damn way to make money when fighting the 800-pound gorilla that is WoW. Unless you have the resources and capital to create a WoW killer.

Why do 9.3 million (and counting) people pay the equivalent of one entire budget title, per month, to play a game like WoW? Because that level of content is simply growing rarer by the day. It’s something that only a company dedicated to quality first and foremost, can deliver, and the hell with deadlines. ‘When it’s done’ works, and this is something that no matter of ex-Blizzard employees or studios seem to realize. Especially if they get picked up by a publisher like “In time for Christmas” EA.

Hellgate is borderline awful, as a result. The high point, so far, has been the intro, which is great, yes. But it all goes downhill so very quickly after that. The very first thing you’ll notice is that graphically, it’s very dissapointing. This game looks nothing like the screenshots we were fed during the marketing hype. The engine is crud, with flat, boxed levels that don’t seem very random at all. And the design is boring. The very first object I encountered, was a crate. Old Man Murray would be spinning in his grave, if he were dead. And enemies are boring and not identifiable as menacing. The first enemy you encounter? A zombie. Gosh. Any more dull and generic and it would have been a giant rat.

Sound effects range from passable to simply shit. Animation is pretty stiff, and the game suffers from the same feel of ‘gliding’ that Guild Wars, for example, does. It’s a difficult to design element, ‘solidity’, but one that I feel is absolutely critical. Few studios manage it. Blizzard is one, Bioware the other. Flagship.. is not.

Beyond the technical uninspiring genericness of this game, is it’s virulent bug infestation. And not the occisional niggle here and there, we’re talking showstoppers. To merely get this title running I had to install a Vista update to ‘correct’ some virtual graphic memory addressing issue. Excuse me? Why? Call of Duty 4 runs just fine on my Vista box the way it is, and it looks about a hundred times better. So did Overlord. And of course WoW. And basically every other game I’ve thrown at it. You can’t blame MS/Vista for this one. Then there’s the texture tearing and corruption, and memory leak issues which seem to lead to uncermonious and frequent crashes to desktop. Fun times.

Then there’s the story… which doesn’t really exist. The great voice-acting.. which also doesn’t exist. The riveting branching dialogue… which doesn’t exist (click next lol), and the dark, gothic atmosphere… which, thanks to someone’s design decision to make NPC interaction humorous, doesn’t exist.

You know what, this game doesn’t exist.

The real barefaced cheek here is that Flagship expects you to pay a subscription fee to unlock all the content within this zombie aberration of a game. Excuse me? You foist off an incomplete, ugly, buggy piece of beta code at full retail price, then expect people to pay extra to get the actual full game?

You fuckers should be paying me to beta test this horrible example of gaming suckdom!

Hellgates only redeeming feature is that it can be kinda fun wacking zombies and demons, but hack ‘n slash for the sake of hacking and slashing alone defeats the point. People loved Diablo because the package was superlative. With Hellgate, that package simply doesn’t exist. There is no Blizzard polish. I’ve come to realize that just because some people jump ship from a great developer, does not necessarily mean they take the magic with them.

Avoid this one unless you’re some kind of gaming masochist, or have both money and time to burn waiting for patches to hopefully fix this heap of failure.

70% average reviews index? Hells no. Hellgate London gets two Fail2 thumbs down.

One comment

  1. […] blows Long: Hellgate is failure « the square root of fail Short: **** graphics, buggy, boring levels and enemies, retarded npc interaction. goonsquad […]

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