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Titan Quest PC DVD-ROM

Published by THQ
Developed by Iron Lore Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £34.99

Titan Quest, an introduction.

Given the popularity of hack 'n' slash RPG titles it's rather surprising that we don't see more of them. In fact there haven't been that many of them since Diablo II which is now over six years old. We've had the Dungeon Siege games which certainly were popular and Divine Divinity (and its sequel) which again was quite a popular game but otherwise it's difficult to recall many others. The crazy thing is that these games can be really enjoyable when they are done well and Titan Quest certainly fits into that category.

What's the game about?

The Titans have escaped their eternal Prison that Zeus placed them in and now they are out to wreak havoc. In times such as these the world needs a hero to step forth. You'll have to travel through the ancient world, including Greece, Egypt and Asia, in order to uncover secrets needed to once again imprison the Titans. The game is essentially one huge collection of mythic monsters that you're going to have to battle in order to achieve your goal. Essentially then it's perfect material for a hack 'n' slash RPG. The game offers extensive replay value as a single-player game and you can even play though the game in Multiplayer mode.

What's good about the game?

Titan Quest is an epic hack 'n' slash RPG that's going to offer many hours of enjoyment to fans of the genre. It's not a game that really brings anything new to the genre but it's a polished product that is truly enjoyable to play. Everything you've enjoyed in previous hack 'n' slash RPGs is present and correct and as a result the game is highly enjoyable. You'll  begin the game in small Greek town against enemies who don't put up that much of a challenge. Before long though the enemies you'll face become very challenging and the need to level-up your character and employ hit and run tactics will increase. The game itself is a fairly linear affair but there are plenty of optional side quests and locations that you can visit and these are invaluable in helping to build up your character.

As well as levelling-up in the usual manner your characters have a choice of two masteries. A mastery contains a certain class of skills. There are eight masteries in the game (Spirit, Rogue, Hunting, Storm, Warfare, Nature, Defence, and Earth). You'll get to choose one mastery when you first level-up and another when you reach level eight. Each mastery has its own advantages and your choice of mastery really needs to fit in with your style of play in order to be effective. As you level-up you'll gain skill points that can be used to acquire skills in your chosen mastery (each mastery has 20 skills). Each skill has a maximum amount of skill points that can be attributed to it. Placing one skill point into a skill will allow you to use that skill but it's not until you've earned all of the skill points for that chosen skill does it become its most effective. You can also choose to put skill points into the mastery itself which gives your character multiple attribute bonuses that are critical to the mastery and it also unlocks new levels of skill for that mastery.

As we said earlier the game doesn't do anything wildly different from other titles in the genre but what it does it does really well. It's great to have two weapon configurations and to be able to change between them with the press of a button. The game includes extensive support for hotkeys which will allow quick access to anything. There are portals to instantly travel between major locations. There are hundreds of items of all descriptions in the game, some of which are difficult to obtain. With certain masteries you can summon creatures to fight alongside you which certainly helps with the more difficult enemies. Should you meet a painful end you won't be thrown to a game over screen but placed back at the last rebirth fountain you passed. The only penalty being that you will lose some experience for this (although you won't lose any levels you've obtained.  Once you've completed the single-player game (which is quite lengthy) you can replay it again with the same character, who retains all of his/her attributes and items, on the Epic difficulty setting which is much more challenging. Once you've completed  the Epic difficulty setting you can go back again and take on the Legendary difficulty mode which is about as difficult as it can get.

Whilst the single-player game is huge and the multiplayer game is certainly worth playing it's the customisation options that will keep the hardcore fans coming back for more. The game includes an editor, an art manager and a quest editor to truly allow the creative users out there the opportunity to create unique adventures. Whilst I'm not skilled in creating my own adventures I always appreciate seeing tools such as these in a game of this type because there are many gamers out there that create enjoyable episodes for the rest of us and it will be very interesting to see what user made campaigns the gaming community has to offer over the coming months.

What's not so good about the game?

For the most part I've been impressed with Titan Quest but there are some areas where the game could have been better. On beginning a new game you'll be disappointed that you can't customise your character in terms of their appearance. All you can do is to select whether your character is male or female, choose their name and pick a colour for their tunic. You can't customise any of their features and whilst this may seem a minor complaint, it's actually very disappointing. When playing the game another problem makes itself painfully obvious. Your inventory is very limited and you'll soon find yourself having to drop items in order to pick up newly found and more desirable items. There's no way to automatically sort your inventory which is a shame as that's been a standard feature for a few years now in other games. I suppose the biggest disappointment with Titan Quest, although it's hardly a problem, is that it doesn't really offer anything we haven't seen before in the genre.

How does it look?

Titan Quest looks great and is, without a doubt, the best looking hack 'n' slash RPG on the PC at the moment. With the graphical details all set to maximum you really do have a game that looks quite impressive, although it's a fair bet that you'll experience frame rate dips with these settings (although it's far from being a problem). Thankfully you can alter numerous graphical settings to suit your PC specifications so if, like us, you don't have the latest and greatest PC hardware you can still have the game looking good and performing nicely.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

For the most part Titan Quest is OK for deaf gamers although there are some omissions. The opening movie is unsubtitled. The voice that tells you that your inventory is full when attempting to pick up items is not subtitled (although this isn't too much of a problem as you'll see the item spin up in the air and land back on the ground, which will notify you that your inventory is full). Comments from shopkeepers, that occur whilst you're perusing their wares, are not subtitled but again this isn't much of a problem. All important dialogue is subtitled. Quests and conversations you initiate are all shown in text (inside a black dialogue box for maximum clarity). Quest info can be recalled at any time too. Tutorial messages are all shown in text and help ease you into the game. The game manual weighs in at just over 40 pages and is actually quite useful. A tech-tree pull-out has also been included to allow you to decide what masterys your character will choose.

Final thoughts.

Titan Quest isn’t a game that's going to radically alter the look and feel of hack 'n' slash RPGs but it is a game that's highly enjoyable and deserves to be ranked up there with the better titles in the genre. There are aspects to the game that we haven't mentioned because in all honesty you'd be looking at a review at least twice the size if we were to do so. Some aspects of the game could have been better such as the inventory but on the whole it's a great hack 'n' slash RPG that fans of the genre (or sub-genre if you prefer) will thoroughly enjoy.

Overall Game Rating: 8.8/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Titan Quest may not contain a wealth of innovations but it's one polished hack 'n' slash RPG that's very enjoyable and offers plenty of replay value.