My first experiences with Heckgate: London… not so scary, but still fun.

As many of you have read, my first experiences with installing the game were… vexing, to say the least. Unable to wait for EA to get it’s collective act together, I decided to try and find another way to play. After spending a bit of time with Mr. B. Tor Rent, I was able to get an ISO to install the game, because at that time the digital download problem was still not fixed. To repeat, I needed an ISO in order to use my legally purchased CD key for my digital version of the game. /boggle. As a side note, at the time of this writing, EA has allegedly fixed the digital download issue, but being unwilling to download another 6.8 gigs, I have chosen to stick with what I have. So, finally being able to get into the game, I logged into the multiplayer, created a Blademaster melee type character, and jumped in.

To date, I have probably spent about 10-12 hours in the game, all of that time on the Blademaster. My first impressions are: it plays a lot like Diablo II. it’s very hack and slash, but there are some nice upgrades from D2, such as the better vantage point of the camera, using the WASD keys solely for your movement versus the point and click interface, and being able to time your swings to intercept enemies as they are coming in, or to be able to dodge attacks. In that way it does feel a bit more twitchy, but I think it feels a lot more fun and immersive than D2 let me feel. Also, the voice acting is absolutely superb. Some of the stars of current day England make their appearance as NPC’s, such as “Beck”, and “Joanne”, a la David Beckham and J.K. Rowling. The quests are predictable, but the voice talent and quest script often times had me laughing out loud. Whoever plays the crazy man from act 3 honestly needs a job in movies, because he’s that damn good. The crafting system is relatively easy to learn, and there are very few components you need in order to create items, always a plus. Other MMO’s such as Auto Assault and EQ2 had way too many crafting items, requiring ridiculous amounts of storage space and making for very confusing crafting experiences.

The game has a few rough spots, as any MMO does. Regardless of whether you feel Heckgate: London is a MMO, the “unlimited replayability” is pretty limited. The maps do get reused quite often, it’s just a matter of what collection of rooms attached together do you get. When travelling between 2 stations, you almost invariably go through a tunnel instance, which leads into a huge room that has a second floor that you have to go up to get out. I think of the 6 times I’ve had to go through it so far, 5 of them have been on the 2’nd floor, and only once have I had to go all the way through. So it does get pretty predictable at times.

Items are pretty stock, with 4 levels of gear: gray, green, blue and orange. gray gets sold to vendors, green+ gets recycled into crafting materials unless you’re using it for your character. Also, the creatures aren’t particluarly bright. You’d think after being stuck for eternity in Hell, you’d at least get smarter, if for no other reason than to keep your sorry hellspawn ass out of there again for as long as possible. Sadly, the only method these enemies have to attack you is zerg rush, which leads in a quick demise. As a melee character, true to D2 form you’ll be sucking down healing items like water, costing you a small fortune. Fortunately there’s no repair bills like there are in D2, which is a blessing, because you will end up dying, a lot.

That’s one of the biggest peeves I have with the game, is how often and quickly you die. I don’t mind if a game is difficult… in fact it’s a good thing because it makes the game more than just a walkthrough. However I do hate it when the game’s mechanics make it very difficult to play the game the way it’s meant to be played. As an example, when you use a healing item, there is a 10 second cooldown where you cannot activate another health kit. So unlike D2, you cannot simply keep swigging potions in the middle of combat, it’s “drink one, and pray to God that it keeps me alive long enough to live to drink another one”. When you get surrounded by mobs, it’s pretty hard to run away, unlike in D2. If you use the sprint feature, and take any damage while sprinting, you immediately go back to a fast walk. There is something to be said for tactics, and not running in full steam ahead… but what the hell good is a melee character if you can’t stand in the thick of things, keeping the hordes off your buddies? I found that feature pretty irritating.

I will still keep playing this game, because regardless of its faults, it still is a lot of fun. It does bring me back to the glory days of hack and slash, with updated graphics and a storyline that is pretty well written. I think I can best equate it to the Dilbert character Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light, and Ruler of Heck. Ultimately not very scary, and often times very humorous, but he plods away, doing the best he can to punish people of the things that aren’t Hell-worthy offenses. I think he’d make an excellent GM for Heckgate:London.

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~ by trollonfire on November 7, 2007.

One Response to “My first experiences with Heckgate: London… not so scary, but still fun.”

  1. I’ve been playing HGL alot too and I agree the game is a blast! The environments like fantastic and the DX10 effects have to be seen to be believed. I think my biggest complaint is also the little variation in environments; I end up in what is supposed to be the Train Depot, and find myself in another office/steam tunnel. I know environments take a long time to create, but maybe a few changes here and there wouldn’t have been TOO difficult?
    All and all, the game is a riot, I am indeed hooked completely, and if they can fix the few party-disappearing bugs they have had lately, I think I found a new addiction! 🙂
    BTW, my character name is “Hollister”. I’ll have to look for you so we can kill some demons! 🙂

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