Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chapter 6: Mr. Roper, Tear Down This Wall!

Ah, time for one of my all-time favorite quests: The Wall. Of course, when I mean favorite, I mean favorite for being such a disaster. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. First off I'd just like to take the time to talk a bit about enemy AI once again. Yes, it always seems that just once you think the enemies can't get any dumber, they up and surprise the heck out of you.

Considering himself unpopular with London survivors, Lord Sloranas was first reluctant to join the party he was invited to. Of course, once he arrived and found he was too fat to fit through the door, he became the source of many great party jokes as he stood outside crying.

I mean, I don't get it. Why even put enemies in an area in which you can just run into a building and they won't be able to get at you? What's even more is that these buildings seem to be much more frequent in the street levels, being found in the middle of the area so you can quickly run up the stairs and laugh at the enemies that can't get at you below. If I wanted to exploit the enemy, I'd use a trainer, not have it spoon-fed to me in gameplay mechanics.

And this is just one of the many experiences I had on my run to the helpless Fist. I mean, not only was it more of a joke that I killed a legendary enemy without him ever being able to touch him, but a rare gremlin trooper also happened to surprise me with his "tactics" in battle as well.

Someone didn't have their Wheaties this morning.

Though the picture might not translate what exactly is happening, I'll gladly elaborate. You see, this fellow here decided that it would be infinitely better if he walked the entire way in his line of attack. Now, I know my inhibitor bots don't stop enemies from charging at me, which is what gremlins are supposed to do, but apparently this guy didn't get the memo. What's more is that he's a rare enemy--one that should be a challenge to bring down because he's liable to drop some good loot. So either he's giving peace a chance or someone messed up in core game design. Hmm, I wonder what it might be!

Besides the AI however, I found myself taking a gander at the rag doll physics of dead enemies. Now small enemies really have no trouble at all at falling down and dying, especially with some of the zombies, who might've been gymnasts when they were still alive. However, the bigger the enemy gets, the more clumsy his rag doll physics seem to be once he dies. This becomes more apparent with bulky enemies, who just can't seem to figure out that gravity weighs things down. However, in some cases, to over come floating corpses, sometimes you just have to do the opposite and clip through the ground.

"Ugh, I am never partying with those London survivors again." "Yeah, you said it Jimmy, I meaAAHH! MY LEGS! I GOT NO LEGS! I GOT NO LEGS JIMMY! AHHHH!"

I ask, once again (at I'm sure many times in the future as well); what exactly is so hard about doing things that other people in the industry of video games have ZERO trouble of doing? Why am I still finding stuff that I was looking at in alpha/beta? But my biggest question definitely has to be as to why this sort of garbage is still happening? Then again, those are apparently the same questions the droves of disappointed fans have asked the developers since release. Funny how there hasn't been much of any sort of real response other than, "We're working on it."

Anyways, I finally found myself at good ol' Embankment Redoubt. Of course, not to my surprise, there still doesn't seem to be any sort of fortification to be found. Maybe the Fist, in their infinite idiocy to be helpless whelps, were in charge of building it? All the more reason as to why the "redoubt" seems to be a few chest-high barricades. Yeah, that's going to stop something. Maybe my grandmother. Considering they are retreating, however, something tells me granny is the least of their worries.

Like good ol' alpha/beta days, I decided the best method to go about the mission is to run pass the nitwits as per the car "blocking" your way out. Yes, I know that you're supposed to control the Fist and get them to a portal that just happens to be on the other side of town, but hey, I'm no idiot. Considering how every other thing has only went from bad to worse in my experience so far, something also tells me that the AI for the Fist are just going to be as idiotic as they were back in August. Of course, to my surprise, the way is actually blocked this time around, as I cannot magically clip through the van at the doorway any more. Bummer. And I enjoyed so much being able to beat this mission and getting the drops as well.

So I sigh, run up the stairs, and find our good and trust-worthy Hobbit friend Rob Someone. My, what an imaginative name! Still as inconspicuous, however, he doesn't bother to say a word to you. You, however, are to click on a magical rectangle thingy over-looking the Fist. Once you do you are transported to a static camera with a top down view centered around four Fist members. And, like good times, this is where things just get ridiculous.

The Fist AKA Why We're Losing this War

Yes, it's nice that Flagship Studios, in their infinite scrounging around to try and break the mold, try and add an aspect into an action RPG game that already has FPS elements by mixing some old fashioned RTS into the mix. However, if you're going to mix things up, you might actually want to get your priorities straight. Or, you know, maybe do this more than once to give the impression that it wasn't lost content on the floor that was picked up and scotch-taped to the game to add play time.

You see, not only are the four bumbling baboons you control adept at sucking at doing damage to enemies, but they are also adept at standing still and being sadomasochists while they get pummeled by enemies. To add more insult to injury, Flagship almost seemed to know this, so they added an AOE bomb that you could call in and the ability to heal all members magically. However, the real magic to this mission was to what exactly transpired. Usually the main big bad ten-times-too-big fellbore Beezlebub is the main source of the problem, as he's also adept to calling in AOE flame strikes (to which the Fist will not run out of unless you hold their hand and guide them to another direction). So what it ends up becoming is about a five minute battle of spamming air strikes and heals, all the while the Fist run around like a bunch of idiots, usually hitting walls and cars more often then the enemies you even tell them to shoot at. Of course, Beezlebub did eventually die, but not before spawning four kamikaze fellbores, to which I tried to single out in attack with the Fist, but, like the good guys they are, they just sat their like idiots shooting walls and barrels. Amazingly enough, however, as the four kamikaze fellbores rushed in, I quickly tapped the heal key after the first explosion. After things had subsided, only one Fist was left alive, hanging by about 40 health. That's also when the portal decided to open, at which point I immediately rushed the last man in through before he was over run by the enemies surrounding him.

And the worst thing is is that this isn't really gameplay at all. It's more like torture. Whereas we were once given the option to make the run and clear the way for the retarded Fist, we are now stuck playing commander while being heavily handicapped. It's like being a casual gamer and trying to play Microsoft Flight Simulator. You're going to crash and burn because the learning curve is higher than Mt. Everest. And that's how it is with this little section of gameplay. You aren't actually told how to play or what to do, and you also aren't told that you're going to be leading idiots who can't tie their own shoelaces to fight an overwhelming number of enemies that the air strike command will be doing most of the killing. I mean, if I wanted to stab myself in the eye, I should at least be given the option to. With Flagship Studios, however, they just shake your hand, jam the knife in their selves, and pat you on the back like nothing ever happened.

Flagship Studios offers a friendly reminder that you could be playing a better game for free.

Chapter 5: One Step at a Time

I was just going on my merry way to Millennium Battle when I suddenly realized, after trying to find the tube to the next area, that as far as the music goes for this game, it doesn't actually "go" any where. For one, I've heard maybe, what, four or five different tracks? And it's not like an act has its specific tracks. What I find more interesting is the "random" appeal to how frequently a track may play, and, more so, what sort of track would play.

I had some lovely ooshin'-dooshin' techno boss soundtrack blaring into my headphones suddenly when all I was doing was taking a nice, quiet stroll.

Of course, what even makes me shake my head even more is that with the numerous complaints that people did make in alpha/beta, the music was one of the few in which a developer actually responded like a human being to. "Yeah, we plan on getting a lot more music to you guys." So when do you guys plan on doing that? 2009? 2010? Next expansion?

But rather remain dreary of the same old random music, I decided to turn it off and make the best of it. So I alt + tab'ed and tried to imagine music that would fit into the genre that is Hellgate. Of course, the Quake 2 soundtrack was the first thing that came to mind, and it certainly fit in perfectly well. So that's the music I'm now listening to when I play the game. Not only does it fit in better then what the game has to offer, but it's also a constant play through of music that will get your adrenaline pumping.

Speaking of things developers touch-based on in changing in games happened to be some of the quest objective items that were given to you with side quests in which you had to activate items in an area. I'll just dig up an old alpha photo to show you what I mean:

Of course, people figured this sort of stuff would've disappeared in the finished content. I mean, items like this would have a more convenient and sensible location, right? Wrong.

Hmm...Two random computer terminal stations in the middle of a ravaged world, and yet they remained untouched. Of course, there's still the question of how in the hell did those things get there in the first place, but asking such a question would require a train of thought--something we're none too keen on in Hellgate.

All I ask is: Why? I mean, why in the hell would you just bend over, let what ever comes out from your bum plop right down, and then use that in the game as "finished content?" I'm still more befuddled at how Flagship Studios has tried to remain oblivious to what has transpired with their game. I mean, sure, if they publicly admit how unfinished their game is subscribers would drop like flies, but at least you would have some dignity. Instead they seem to be much more adept to breaking promises.

Speaking of which, let's go back to the basics, shall we? I can remember quite fondly of how enemies always had the knack to clip through solid objects, alive or dead, and can also remember the many pleas of defense of, "It's only alpha/beta." Then again, I guess I really shouldn't be all that surprised when I come across the same experience three months later.

Contrary to popular belief, the laws of gravity do not apply in the Hellgate world. Ever.

So I just shrugged and went on my merry way, as I've always been trying to do so far in this game without saying, "I quit." Nope, I'm not going to let continuous buggy and shoddy content turn me away from finishing this game, because I'd rather have mounting field work explain first hand of what the many complaints in this game actually look like first-hand. So I just completed the quest I needed to do out there and, lo and behold, some luck came across to me with some very nice pants. So I recall myself back to the station and identify the pants, only to find that they are infinitely better then the ones I'm wearing now, but the only problem is that they require my character level to be one level higher. No biggie. I'll just drop the item in my stash and wait it out in the grind. Of course there's nothing more frustrating then trying to look at yourself at your stash/at the shop merchant when there's a throng of people in the way. Oh well, hopefully it's not as crowded in the later levels.

Mmf! Rrf! Oof! Hey, no shovin'! Oi, what's that feelin' against me leg!?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chapter 4: Redundant, Redundant

As I said earlier before, I am, in fact, completing all quests that are available to me. Now since I'm still in the mode of just trying to get past Act 3, because that's all we were limited to in alpha/beta, I decided to take my time while turning in a quest to see the rewards being offered. When I actually took a good look, I was surprised.

Oh, you mean of the three items you can offer me, all I can take is the rifle? Hmm, well, ok. Oh, how about that. It's infinitely inferior to the one I have now. Well, you don't leave me with much choice. I'll just take the palladium. Wait, you're only giving me 120 palladium? Oh...ok...Do you have any more equally rewarding quests you want to offer me? You do? Splendid!

Yeah, apparently the majority of the rewards I've been getting on these side quests (which you're always stuck with only one item because the other two are for the other two factions, which you can't use as they aren't class compatible) have actually been completely worthless. To add insult to injury, the palladium they offer as a reward wasn't even half of what I recovered when I embarked on the journey to get what they asked for. So, in the end, the only thing you're really working on when you do these side quests are reputation runs. Of course, what's even better is that reputation actually does squat for you as well (I maxed out the reputation at Covent Garden Station and prices haven't dropped at the shop--Heck, I didn't even get a pat on the back).

So basically the side quests are there to fool you into thinking you're embarking on something the developers actually spent considerable amount of time setting up for you to do when all they've done is add one of the item graphics already in use for the game, preset it to a specific enemy in a specific area, and then added a drop table for how frequent those items drop before you decide to drop dead of exhaustion of doing the same thing over and over again. I mean, if Flagship Studios is talking about bringing in new quests, I hope they aren't anything like this, because, so far, of all the quest reward items I've gotten, I haven't bothered to keep a single one.

Speaking of that lovely rifle I have, it's always good to know that the mods that I have equipped to the gun help it considerably to continue to be useful to me even at higher levels. For instance, if I didn't have three scope mods attached to it, it wouldn't look as ridiculous as it does now.

Well, the scope on the right is fer' seein' stuff, the one on the top is a kaleidoscope, and the one on the left is fer' lookin' at nekkid demon chicks.

I've seen a few players with three ammo clips to one rifle as well. It looks God-awful ridiculous. I mean, wouldn't it just be easier to keep the gun at its main texture preset instead of having it littered with mods? I mean, sure, some of the clips do add some fancy aesthetical value to some weapons, but some designs look down-right ridiculous (including that scope that is more of a broken iron sight). When I see something like this the word "redundant" definitely comes to mind. Speaking of which, let's touch up on some of the loading screens, shall we?

Now that is some insightful information I did not know.

I believe the example above really hits home with what I'm saying. Honestly, I think it would be much better if nothing was said at all during loading screens, as they don't actually offer any sort of real tips that isn't already common knowledge. I mean, really. I wonder how a LV50 player feels when he sees, "Press I to open your inventory" when he's doing a boss run of some sort. "Oh, geez, is that how you do it? And all this time I've been using the same equipment! Thanks for the heads up!"

And it's not like this is the only bit of copy and paste tactics. For instance, if there is one thing you can count on on any level you are on, you're always going to find a legendary enemy. Of course, legendary enemies are just regular enemies on steroids. It's not like they look any different from their counterpart of what their standard MO is. But you would think the "unique" names would at least try and give that sort of feeling. However, when the majority of the "unique" names are just adjectives of what the enemy does, it's not like it's any sort of legendary at all.

C'mon boys and girls...come a little closer...I'm the Reanimator...

What's worse is that this is still a repeating pattern and I fear it will continue to be as much until the very end of the game. Where's the variety? Where's the change of things? A simple recolor of an enemy doesn't make him new and the same thing goes for weapons as well. When they are still performing the same actions, emitting the same sounds, and not doing anything new, then it just becomes a copy and paste game through and through.

You and me both, bub.

Chapter 3: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Following the ravings of a mad man, otherwise known as Lucius Aldwin, led me back to a familiar place known as Green Park Station. Of course, Green Park Station has always been a favorite of mine simply because it is one of the few "towns" in which it is under fire. However, what makes the experience even more limited is how it is instanced for your character, whereas all the other "towns" are open to all players. Oh, and then there's that little bit in which Lucius Aldwin tells us how he spread out the pieces of the infamous Oracle in three inconspicuous places: Death's Sewers, Death's Tunnels, and Death's City. Wow, someone did a number in the naming department, huh?

Anyways, this next segment in Act 2 might be one of the most repetitive in the whole game. You see, in these three places, we're going to kill a specific enemy, find the altar, grab a piece of the oracle, and return it back to Lucius. It's more of a smash-n-grab sort of thing--you know, something you would expect out of a menial side quest. Amazing, however, how it comes to play in the main game.

Going on then we find that these three distinct locations are not your run-of-the-mill copy and paste tile sets. No, you see, this time you'll get to experience what the game should've probably felt like if Flagship Studios was going for any sort of immersion. In these levels the fog distance is much shorter, in which the fog color is also black, giving the impression that it's very dark.

This is what areas should have looked like. We get to taste it in only three different levels.

Now, even though this is just a simple matter of messing around with fog settings, it just goes to show you how much of a difference it makes the game. The very first trailer banked heavily on a dark, dreary setting of loneliness and inevitability. When those two Templar step out of the station and onto the streets, only to see darkness, one of them fires flares to lighten up the place. That was the setting that made sense. I mean, in a world in which hell has taken over, we have nice, bright and blue skies, and there's plenty of light even during the night levels.

Continuing on, however, I make the point that just decreasing the fog distance doesn't necessarily fix the game either. For instance, spawned area lighting is limited to some actions, not all, and probably the biggest insult to injury is how area-of-affect fire doesn't do anything but try and look pretty.

Contrary to popular belief, fire apparently does not emit a light source.

It's really just another thing that you can see and wonder why developers didn't spend more time on something like this. I mean, what would've been so hard to add flashlights to helmets, or have our glowy armor emit a light radius around the player? It's actually surprising that this was something they didn't do, given that they did both in Diablo 1 and Diablo 2. Either way, it's just insulting to have these options stare at you in the face and, instead, Flagship Studios chose to opt for a more kiddy-like environment of full lighting. Tell me why this game is rated M again?

Anyways. I bring back all the pieces for Lucius Aldwin to piece back together the Oracle, after which I am told to activate it. Now, in the back of my mind, I clearly remembered one of the most popular bugs in alpha/beta, which was once you activated the Oracle, he would clearly jump on the counter behind Lucius, jump on Techsmith 314's face, and then, miraculously, leave a copy of himself on 314's face, but then jump onto some sandbags to the left. And, sure as rain, when I activated the 1/10 scale Zombie Summoner, he did exactly that.

The Oracle proves to us that he can indeed be in two different places at the same time.

At such a point and time, I took a moment to see if other things from alpha/beta were still in Green Park Station, such as in-game advertisements in posters, which was a popular concern of grief back in the testing days. Given that EA has a wonderful reputation of fitting in some advertisements into the games they publish in such noticeable ways that they affect game immersion, people were afraid that Hellgate would be plagued by such marketing schemes. Of course many defenders of Flagship Studios claimed that the advertisements were only there for alpha/beta. I only needed to turn around to see how wrong those people were.

Hellgate: London Weta Workshop collectibles, only $225 each! Get all four for the low, low price of $900!

However, perhaps the most interesting poster I found in Green Park Station was something that wasn't an advertisement at all. I'll end this chapter and just let the picture speak for itself.

Now that's what I call a recipe for disaster.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Chapter 2: The Same Old Same Old

Ah, Covent Garden Station. You've changed a bit. Well that's certainly nice. Too bad you can't make up for the entire game. Oh well. Everything can't be perfect, but you can at least try to improve it. Apparently Flagship Studios didn't get the memo.

Anyways, I continued to press onward, this time assuring myself that I would complete all quests that were presented to my character at any given time. This means those lovely kill enemy x, fed ex, and grind quests would fill up most of my time. But, hey, if you really want to get the full experience, then you have to try out what is being offered to you. So I make my first turn to the Kingsway Sewers to complete the menial quests set before me and, wouldn't you know it, that's when it hit me. The lovely loading screen of death. Ah, such fond memories I had of thee back in alpha. I'm glad to see you made it to the finished product old chum!

I waited a full six minutes before I decided that it was time to run the melody of ctrl + alt + delete, just to make sure that it just wasn't "lag."

Ah, well, we can try that again, shall we? So I spin up the client once more and go through the same portal once again, this time crossing my fingers. Success! This time the client decided to work like a finished product and loaded the other area. One must really wonder, however, how such problems still exist when Flagship Studios keeps claiming to have "fixed the bugs."

Anyways, after completing said menial quests, I decided to pursue the main quest story line. I was teeming with excitement; now I was about to get some real action with our old pal Shulgoth, who was victim to many runs in alpha/beta (I hear he's still quite popular today). However, on my way to meet my old friend, I happened to come across the little leaper doggie guys. As an Engineer, my long ranged rifle made short work of them, most particularly when they provided perfect practice when they jumped into the air and I simply side-stepped away. However, I was surprised to learn that this little fellows had developed the wonderful ability to levitate after death!

And now the Amazing Swamini will perform his levitation act after his death!

Yes, it seemed that leaper enemies that I killed when they were airborne seemed to drop down to an invisible wall that was a few feet off the ground. It was a magical feat, one which I decided to take a moment to ponder and reflect on and wonder why in the world the game even allows rag dolls to do such thing. But then I remembered I probably was doing something productive when I was at work when others clearly weren't. Oh well. What a big surprise.

Speaking of floating corpses, this might also bring up a good time to mention how flying enemies are just as reluctant to not actually drop to the ground when they are killed as well. Of course for them they seem more keen in just freezing the last animation they were performing before they met their untimely end.

Hey, we're just going to hang up here for a while if that's cool with you.

Yes, it seems like as if enemies have a knack of just sitting in the middle of the air once they are dead. What a lovely habit. What's even more interesting is that I can't remember a single time in alpha, or beta, when something like this happened. So I lied when I said I haven't seen anything new. Flagship Studios, in their finite attempt to fix things, seemed to had the wanton feeling to add a few more bugs in the mix to throw us off.

But hey, those aren't the only things enemies can do. No sir, they seem to also be inclined to actually do nothing at all at times. Yep, it looks like a few that were molded out of the sulfur forgot to pick up their brains on the way out of the hell that they spawned from.

I took down both Vortex Goliaths from this distance while they did nothing but stand around.

While for some players they might find it enjoyable that all they have to do is sit in front of an enemy and press the fire button, I find it rather insulting. If I wanted a one-clicker game, I'd play Solitaire, and that came with the computer for free. However, I paid $60 for a game in which I was expecting content and developer effort to that of the equivalent of what the industry's standard is. I mean, unless, of course, Flagship Studios was trying to set an all-time low to break the mold of the standard and take it down a few notches. I suppose that would make sense as to why they do what they do.

For instance, let's take a time to examine the reflections of this game. Now, for some bizarre reason, the streets are tore up, cars are blown up, and the landscape is littered with hot spots sprouting out of buildings and the ground, yet, magically, all of these windows on buildings seem to be quite intact. So I happened to take a gander of what reflection these windows might have to offer, only to find myself staring at a phony backdrop reflection image that mirrors off on all windows. The only problem? It doesn't actually reflect the image behind you. As a matter of fact, if you look at one window to your left and then one to your right, they will show the very same image. There isn't any actual reflection at all; it's just something to pull a blanket over your face to think you're looking at something fancy when you're looking at something you'd find in a pre-1999 game.

While it appears I am standing in front of the same window, I'm actually standing in front of the window on the left in the picture on the left and standing in front of the window on the right in the picture to the right--both of which "reflect" the same image.

But people probably don't even take the time to even reflect on their surroundings when they're probably too busy trying to find the last gathering item needed for a quest. At first these quests seemed easy enough, especially when the enemies that dropped the said items needed were plenty in supply. However, as I have a fear that it will become a recurring theme in quests, the last x of y items always seems to be the hardest to spawn from the enemy, even if you've killed about 30 of them. As a matter of fact, the tickers I was supposed to take from downed Imp Troopers from Piccadilly Circus were no where to be found, mostly because there weren't any Imp Troopers in Piccadilly Circus to begin with. However, there was a hellgate, which I reluctantly stepped through and found my lovely slew of Imp Troopers. As such, after cleaning out the place, I found myself with 9 of the 10 items needed, but now with zero Imp Troopers left. Well, what a predicament I found myself to be in. So I descended into Hell in the hopeful attempt to find Imp Troopers there but with no such luck. Ten minutes later I arise back to the staging area of the hellgate, but nothing had respawned. So I decided to return to Piccadilly Circus and clear out the place there, also hopeful for Imp Trooper respawns. No such luck. Another ten minutes pass by and I return into the hellgate, where I found a few dozen respawned Imp Troopers. So I rubbed my hands together greedily, slew them all, and not a single one dropped a ticker.

30 minutes into searching for one more damn ticker and I'm still turning up empty.

So instead of just getting frustrated and dropping the quest, I decided to pursue the matter. Hell, if waiting a half hour didn't cure the problem, then I'm sure just logging out and logging back in would. So I did exactly that. And so here I was, once again, back in Charring Cross Station. Out I went onto Piccadilly Approach and then to Piccadilly Circus. Surprise surprise! No Imp Troopers in Piccadilly Circus. However, there still was a hellgate, and down I went into it. And after I had decimated the whole place of all Imp Troopers, there still wasn't a ticker to be found.

Now I was pissed.

So I storm out of the hellgate, deciding that I'll just recall back, drop the quest, and then try and do something rude to the NPC that gave me the quest, only to find that as soon as I stepped through the portal, there was an Imp Trooper staring me down. I immediately shot him in the face just for the sport and the trouble he had caused me and, wouldn't you know it, the bastard drops a ticker. I sighed heavily, picked up the item, and was glad the client didn't crash in the process.

So back I went to Charring Cross Station, slowly regulating my breathing, telling myself that it's just a game and that it's not worth getting worked up over, but you know what? It just kills me when this sort of garbage is presented to you in a product that you spend your hard-earned money on. I bought this game to have fun, not to get frustrated over some discrepancy that shouldn't have happened in the first place. Hell, I get that at my job, and I get paid for being unhappy. In Hellgate all I get is some quest text that laughs at me and a half hour of wasted time for one quest. Oh well. Maybe things will lighten up next time.


Sometimes Hellgate players just need a hug--and sharper player textures.

Chapter 1: I Know this Music

Hoping that things had changed from the very beginning, I deleted my old character and started a new one. Not to my surprise, however, my character still happens to "start out" at the end of an inconspicuous alley with no explanation how he got there or why he is outside.

Hmm, this looks like a good place to magically appear from.

And still, equally not as surprising, the first message I receive is from the mysterious Murmur, who claims to need my help. He too is just hanging around in the alley for no particular reason as well.

Hello. I'm not a suspicious fellow because I'm the only person in the entire game who doesn't carry a weapon when I go to the surface.

And also not to much of my surprise, I click on Murmur only to find that the UI is still just as horrible, making it a click-fest just to read menial text in quests. Whereas developers were probably trying to go for a conversational piece in which you can only handle one sentence at a time, it doesn't mean much when you don't have voice actors for the quest text itself. Instead you get something to this effect:





How are you?






I want you to go kill 12 demons for me.




Free of charge.


Oh, alright.


I'll give you some palladium.




And an item too.


But don't expect anything riveting.


Right then.


Off you go.


So what this really ends up doing is just making questing in general just so damn annoying. I mean, everyone in alpha said it, everyone in beta said it, and people today are still saying it. Fix the damn UI. But apparently such things over at Flagship Studios are too hard to accomplish. And yet I'm sure so are many other things that I will find along this game are as well too, especially when you can't fix the same old garbage that was in your alpha client. Oh well. I guess we all can't be logical.

Anyways, I take Murmur along with me to a clearing where six or seven dead Templar lay strewn everywhere with one hanging by a thread. Strangely enough, there only seems to be about four or five LV1 zombies in the vicinity that my LV1 bolters make short work of. Hmm. Yeah. So let's recap so far. Apparently the elite of the elite demon killers--a group of seven no less--were slaughtered by about five zombies. More so, they even managed to leave one alive to give you some important quest item, all the while this Murmur character, who was only standing in an alleyway 50 feet away, acts oblivious to the whole thing. Oh, and don't forget the part where my character also was in that alleyway too.

Oh, hmm. Haven't I seen you before? Yes, weren't you just slaughtering my comrades? Oh, no, that wasn't you? Oh, sorry then. Well, I won't bother to mention it again then.

I mean, c'mon, does Flagship expect us to have been dropped on our heads? Not only does this farcical plot make zero sense so far, it's also been solved within the first five minutes of gameplay. Oooh, Murmur is a bad guy. BIG SURPRISE. Ugh. Maybe I'll at least have better luck in my gameplay experience.

Sorry Joey, but due to cut back in development time, we're just going to have to give you a peg leg. Don't worry, half of the game is getting replacement textures as well.


It was a genuine shock when the creators of Diablo, otherwise known as Blizzard North (or Condor before Blizzard purchased the company six months before Diablo's release), announced their departure from Blizzard Entertainment back in November 2005. To many, however, opportunity was a high probability for these guys to do something brilliant on their own. When the majority of them formed Flagship Studios some months later and announced a project that they promised would be something new, there were few who even cared to pay attention. However, from their newly-born company to the days of when that project was given a name, I was there, waiting, watching, and teeming with excitement for what they would have to offer. Those were the days when Hellgate: London was on the top of my "looking forward to" list. Notice how I speak in past tense.

Joy could not have come at a better time when I was whisked in to the alpha in August. Like a little girl on Christmas morning, I squealed in delight at the opportunity to get a first-hand taste of what Hellgate had to offer. However, by the end of beta, that taste had turned sour. Despite the numerous lists of criticisms numerous alpha and beta testers posted on the official forums for suggestions to fixing the game, nothing was said or done. Instead, suggestions fell on deaf ears as developers continued to act like nothing was wrong. A great number of people, including me, told the doomsayers that "Oh, it's only alpha/beta content. There is surely more to the full game."

Now I know better.

That fateful day came on October 30th when my collector's edition pre-order came early. I was reluctant to take out the CD and install the game for the fear that my horrors may be confirmed. Instead, I took advantage of the comic book and the commentary DVD that came along to calm my nerves and to get a thorough grounding in the developmental process of the game. And then came the next day where I installed the game and thought I was still playing on the alpha client.

People were in an upheaval. Subscribers were getting empty promises, with founders and elite members publicly vowing to never to return to this game and regretting the decisions they made. Critics followed. There wasn't a single review that didn't have more bad things to say about Hellgate: London than good things. And so after reaching level 9 on my Marksman and getting tired of doing what I did in alpha/beta about 12 different times with 12 different characters, I decided that I would set down the game and come back in a week or two when a patch had been brought up to speed.

That patch didn't come in a week. It didn't come in two. It didn't come until December 19, 2007, and it was only labeled as 0.7, a foreshadowing of the amount of time and effort Flagship Studios put into trying to fix their game. I watched as the posts for the bugs board piled up to an insurmountable number. I watched as numerous fan sites dropped their support with only Hellgate Guru sticking in the thick of things. I watched as numerous unsatisfied customers blasted away at the game, warning others of the product. I watched how the fans of the game went from the majority to the minority.

And now here we are, three months later. It is, after all, my grace period to give a game its last chance to make an impression on me. Despite the fact that the criticism clearly outweighs what ever positive light this game might have, especially with sites such as becoming increasing popular, or how the term "flagshipped" is synonymous with "pranked." So here I am, about to embark on a journey that I may indeed regret taking.