Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hell Fate - Hellgate Global Review

   Note: I never got around to the PvP aspect of Hellgate, so it will not be discussed in this review. Also, the class I mostly played for the purpose of review was Marksman, though I also played Guardian a bit.

   Hellgate Global is an MMORPG created by Flagship Studios and hosted by Hanbitsoft. For those unfamiliar with the name, Hellgate Global is really just Hellgate: London turned into a free-to-play title. This is great news for us free gamers, because Hellgate is actually a great game.

   As soon as you start the game, you're treated to a nicely animated intro movie that gets the ball rolling on the story. Hell has been taking over various worlds, swarming them with demons and covering them with endless darkness. Regardless, they will not take Earth. Because Earth is badass. Humans have been pushed underground, and it is up to you to cut a swath through the countless demons that roam the Earth and close the gates of Hell. It is a fairly interesting story, and the gameplay does not disappoint. Of course, it's not without it's problems, so let's get into the meat of the review.

   Gameplay: Impressive
   Hellgate is a very cool game to both play and watch. To start off, you can choose from six different classes, split between three different styles. There's the Guardian and Blademaster which use melee weapons, the Summoner and Evoker which use magic, and the Engineer and Marksman which use guns. The good news is that as long as you aren't using a melee class, you can play the game in either first-person or third-person, and both work equally well so you can play based on your personal preference.
   Not only that, but fighting includes aiming and shooting at your enemies instead of click-to-fight. Guns work similarly to how they do in normal shooters, and some weapons can even be dual-wielded. While cool, this also means that battle areas are instanced, so if you don't take a friend with you, you will be fighting alone. I suggest you bring a friend.

What even is this thing? Whatever, shoot it.
   When in battle, you will be constantly assailed by various demons, and the fights can get pretty big later in the game. Loot drops aren't shared between party members, so why go it alone?

   Difficulty: Just Right
   Hellgate features three different difficulty modes, called Normal, Nightmare, and Hell. A higher difficulty will result in more experience, more money, and better item drops, at the cost of enemies being almost disproportionately more difficult to fight and tougher enemies appearing more often. The benefit isn't too noticeable at lower levels, so when you start the game, it's best to just stay on Normal mode, bumping up to Nightmare if you want a challenge, or Hell if you just simply want to die. The game can be quite easy at the beginning, though this isn't really a problem since it allows more freedom to look at the game and try things out.

Sniper stance on a rocket launcher! Woo!
   Take note, the difficulty spikes upward noticeably on boss fights unless you have good gear on and spent your stat and skill points intelligently. This may not be a big deal if you're familiar with the game, but since I played with a friend and both of us died on the first major boss fight, I feel that fair warning is in order.

   Epicness: Grand
   Killing demons isn't hard. It's killing enough of them to matter. As you trek through the dark streets and sewers of a London occupied by Hell, you will fight quite a lot of beasts that are physically larger than you are, particularly because of a mechanic called "Hell Occupation". In every area, a mini-boss will appear every time you kill a set number of demons, dropping lots of treasure when killed. Needless to say, a lot of the excitement from fighting comes directly from taking these things down.

I would probably be scared if I wasn't heavily armored and toting a big gun.
   That picture isn't a great example of this, but particularly in later levels, you will find yourself fighting many monsters at once. If you aren't paying attention to the Hell Occupation meter (the purple ring around the mini-map at the top right of your HUD), you can potentially be in the middle of a tough fight and then a mini-boss appears, making things a bit more exciting. Without the Hell Occupation mechanic, you would be fighting smaller monsters for the entire game outside of boss fights, which would make Hellgate a much more bland experience. Simply put, I would like to see this mechanic in more games, since it makes the game more fun overall.

   Graphics: Old
   I said Hellgate is great, not pretty. The special effects and characters don't look too bad until you actually start fighting. Most guns have absolutely no kick to them (the sole exception being sniper rifles, which slightly overdo the kick), look awkward in both first and third-person views, and the sound effects for a lot of the automatic rifles don't sync up with the gun's actual effect (the actual firing rate of the gun doesn't match the sound it makes).
   If you happen to go with a melee class and bring a sword into battle, you will be stuck in third-person to watch as your character-... I'm not quite sure. The slashing animations are a bit stiff, and if you hold a direction while slashing, your character will slide in that direction to allow better mobility. Though, honestly, it looks a bit like they're dancing.

Note: Smiley face is not actually in the game.
   Try this: Play a male melee character, walk forward a couple steps, and then move right and slash at the same time. Your templar, who is fighting unholy demons with a broadsword to combat the forces of hell, will do a twirl. I'm pretty sure that's not an actual sword technique.

   RPG: Not Action-RPG
   Hellgate is an RPG first before anything else, and the whole thing about bad graphics leads directly into this. As you progress through the game, a lot of the locations start to look very similar to each other, and the game starts to get a bit repetitive. There isn't a whole lot of room for exploration because of the linearity of the battle fields and the nature of instances. Since you will be getting most of your equipment from boss drops and Hell Occupations, and the player levels up at a respectable rate (meaning you won't be grinding for experience), you may find yourself falling into a rut where you start playing the game only to fight the bosses and mini-bosses for better gear, potentially making the gameplay a bit shallow.
   I can't really say this is a serious problem, since different people will enjoy the game differently, and there isn't much anyone can do to give the game more life. There is a PvP mode, but there really needs to be more for the player to do other that just fighting.

   Final Score: 3.9 out of 5

   The entire time while playing Hellgate, I kept thinking, "This is so epic, why am I not having fun?" I used to think that graphics didn't really have any effect on my enjoyment as long as the gameplay was good. However, personally, the bad animations really dulled the effect of almost everything that happened in this game. It is not at all a bad game, though, and if you aren't deterred by silly awkward visuals, there's no reason not to try this game out. It should run perfectly on most computers, and I found no bugs or glitches while playing it. Give it a try, I guarantee that the first hour of playing will be one of the best experiences you have had in a free-to-play MMORPG.

Bonus screenshot of a bunch of demons waiting to die to grenade-spam.
   Extra Things to Know
   - Almost everything you find out in the field will be "Unidentified", and you will need to use  Analyzers to be able to use them. Make sure to stock up!
   - There is a "Mini Game" to be "played"! The three symbols at the bottom right denote special objectives. If you complete them, you get loot!
   - Be prepared to spend a lot of time in your inventory. Bosses and mini games drop a lot of loot and most of it is junk. You will be dismantling most of it, so have your right mouse button ready.
   - The cash shop sells items that can make the game extremely easy, with various buffs and even additional skill points.
   - You may find yourself restarting your character at the beginning from messing up skill builds. There aren't many chances to reset skill points outside of cash.
   - You can set any skill to your left or right mouse buttons in place of normal firing.
   - You get a "Nerd" title for doing the tutorial!
   - If you want, you can skip the side quests and just do the story quests, if you're just interested in the main storyline. Just make sure to kill every monster you see, and you won't be much worse off.


  1. Nice review son. But the killing bosses just for new gear mechanic is kinda what they were going for I'd say. Back in 2007 when the game was first released where you had to buy it, it was kinda totted as a 3d first person Diablo. And let's face it, all you did in Diablo was run dungeons and grind for better gear XD

    1. True enough. I did play Diablo II with my brother, but I never finished it for the same reason. I just wish there was something else there. Like collections, or pets or something. I considered just taking out that whole last topic, just because it sounds really stupid when I try to write it out loud.

  2. A little tip: Playing through the optional quests actually does have great advantages:

    - You earn a few million Palladium by completing them all
    - You earn a ton of stat points by completing them all
    - You earn lots of Legendary equipment and mods, which are useful when leveling and can be sold/dismantled

    An important thing to note here is that, often, quests need to be completed in order to unlock new ones. This is a quest tree that spans from the start to lvl 30. Using this knowledge, try to choose the most efficient path. Generally, this means taking the path on which there are the most quests, even if there isn't a main quest there.