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Hellgate: London

Hellgate London

 
Hellgate: London reviewed

Diablo is one of the few, genre defining games in computer games history, spawning many clones, me-toos and iterations over the years. The latest comes from many of the original creators of Diablo 1 and 2: Bill Roper's team at Flagship Studios has brought the addictive gameplay into the third dimension, and also breaks down the barrier between MMOGs and traditional games. Enjoy our massively multimedia hands-on preview with lots of in-game screenshots and videos!

W

hen the Shadow fell upon the Earth, cities were ruined and countries shattered. But the Darkness coming from the Well of Midnight could not purge the inhabitants of Earth like it had done so many times before on other worlds. Around 2027, Commander Patrick Summerisle leads a desperate attack of his Templar elite warriors to allow the last fugitives in London to reach a safe harbor deep beneath the surface – the Underground tunnels which had sheltered the Londoners in World War II from the bomber attacks of Nazi Germany. Summerisle is attacking the Hellgate through which Evil came to London. He knows that this mission is doomed, and neither him nor his fighters return. But 20 years later, his granddaughter Jessica dons her Templar helmet: With her as their new commander, the survivors start the long war to take back London. (You can watch the intro in our video below.)

Watch this video in better quality (external link)

This is an update to our earlier Preview from Saturday, 10/27. If you've already read the earlier text, although there are little updates throughout the text, you might probably want to go to the last page immediately, it is the only one with significant changes.

Under a Blood Moon

1 The loading screen provides a hint: Instead of a "Dark Alleys", we get a "Blood Moon" sub line for Craven Street. 2 We immediately see what that means when we walk under a red sky. 3 In the street, a Templar is awaiting us, the exclamation mark shows that he needs our help. 4 We quickly scan the mission description: The Templar wants to be escorted to a portal. 5 After accepting the quest, we have to fight against many fiery Seraphs that shoot down from the sky. The Templar must be protected! 6 Finally, we reach the portal to Embankment Approach -- our quest is over.

Yukkione (not verified)
0 EXP -
October 28, 2007 - 06:42 #

Enjoyed the review. I played the beta and had more fun in this game than any online game i've played in awhile. BTW the second picture on the character creation page has the beams mixed up, the blue damages and the red slows down the enemy.

Jörg
5433 EXP -
October 28, 2007 - 10:50 #

Thanks, and I have corrected the beam colors!

Anonymous (not verified)
0 EXP -
October 28, 2007 - 07:33 #

You got Summoner and Evoker mixed up :)

Summoner is the magic-oriented pet class, Evoker is the sorceror-type.

Jörg
5433 EXP -
October 28, 2007 - 10:27 #

Thanks, I've corrected the error on page 2.

Terry (not verified)
0 EXP -
October 29, 2007 - 09:46 #

Great Hands-on, guys! Especially the infos boxes. I'm waiting for your verdict, though!

Anonymous (not verified)
0 EXP -
October 29, 2007 - 13:29 #

Nice preview ! I played BETA, and I'm waiting for the final release in few days to play it all again!!!

But some mistake on page 2:
"Evoker and Engineer both use little friends to help them fight. The Evoker, somewhat resembling the druid in Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction, calls minions which he can then buff with up to two additional skills per Minion type."

Evoker - it is Sorceress type from Diablo2, because this type uses spells... Summoner uses pets - thats more like Druid or Necromancer from D2 :)

Jörg
5433 EXP -
October 29, 2007 - 15:07 #

Hi, I switched the terms Summoner and Evoker on page 2 (at least, I got it right on other pages and in the video), and I didn't fully correct my error when I had the chance (see the first anonymous comment above). I have done so now, thank you for pointing it out!

Knurrunkulus
2674 EXP -
October 30, 2007 - 01:13 #

Well written and really extensive. However, I can't help myself than to be thoroughly disappointed by the game itself. While playing the demo and also while reading this review I just didn't get this certain feeling I would have been pretty sure to get just a few months ago. Okay, yeah, it looks crap on my rather old-fashioned laptop. But that's really not the only reason. I think that my major concern is really the "play it three hours and you've seen about every environmental set once"-issue.

But well: You had fun with it and probably there will come the day where I will also change my opinion about the game. We will see.

salavora (not verified)
0 EXP -
October 30, 2007 - 09:16 #

Very nice!
I now will get myself a free version to test it.

Could it be, that at the first page, the navigation bar is missing or is it just my browser? (for everyone who had the same problem, here is the url for the second page and there you can find the Navigation bar again.)
In addition the first page is completly out of focus in my browser, the text is partly inside the first picture and the pictures in the end don't seem to fit either.

I am looking forward to seeing more on this page and to playing this game now!

Jörg
5433 EXP -
October 30, 2007 - 10:27 #

Salavora, are you using Internet Explorer 6, by any chance? We seem to have problems with that Browser, Firefox, IE 7 and also Opera should work fine. My apologies!

Shay (not verified)
0 EXP -
October 30, 2007 - 11:03 #

Quote
After the 6 minute long intro, which nearly has the same quality as the superb Diablo 2 render videos.

********************************************************

Nearly? Seems to me you have not seen the intro of Diablo 2 in a long time... :p

But seriously, the intro of D2 was done many years ago and compared to the one of HGL it looks old. When it comes to 'pull you into the story' - then both manage that.

Jörg
5433 EXP -
October 30, 2007 - 12:04 #

Well, perhaps there were some nostalgic feelings involved on my side. But let's talk about the intro plus the end-of-act videos, (and let's not talk about resolution, but quality of the renderings and of the dramaturgy) :-)

Anonymous (not verified)
0 EXP -
October 30, 2007 - 14:43 #

On Safari (OSX, 2.0.4) the introducing "W" is intersecting with the text horizontal and vertical.

Anonymous (not verified)
0 EXP -
October 30, 2007 - 14:43 #

"We can't explain why Flasgship didn't use this motivation trick, perhaps sets will be included in the multiplayer subscription."

According to official statements from FSS - Sets of items will indeed be in the game.

Jörg
5433 EXP -
October 31, 2007 - 15:56 #

Thanks for the information, which I will include in the article. Everyone, please tell us when by an update or by subscribing or even in the boxed game you collect at least 2 Set items!

Starkiller
1470 EXP -
October 30, 2007 - 15:32 #

Loved the review.
I hope my preordered US-Version will arrive soon (2nd of november I think)
Hope the game will have some long-term motivation in it. You didn't mentioned in the article how long someone would need to get through the singleplayer-part.

Just came over from joergspielt.de and I think I will stick to Gamerglobal as well.
I wish you the best, and hope you get a lot of page-hits soon.

And if I find the time besides my office-job, I'd love to be part of something new, something awesome.

Kunzevatter
163 EXP -
October 31, 2007 - 01:06 #

Great Review.
Got my German Version this morning (well actually yesterday) and played it for 2-3 hours as a Marksman.
I had a lot of fun during that time and hopefully it will stay like that for the "promised" 40 hours of gameplay, but I also found two things very disturbing:

1. The (so called) physics engine is actually a laugh. As I threw my fist grenade as Marksman I was totally shocked as this thing tends to jump around like a rubber ball. You really get the impression that using these things efficiently is throing them in vaguely the right direction and pray to god they don't jump around half the room (for me: god didn't seem to care if I hit demons with it or just an innocent crate that somehow blocked it's strange path)

2.I know one shouldn't criticise too much when just having played for 2 or 3 hours, but am I the only one who found those subway tunnels or plazas a bit "empty" ? The important point is: when entering my fist Hellgate those damn demons just rushed me because there was a hell (!) of a lot of them.

If I'm wrong with all or of some of the points mentioned here - please yell at me as much as you want and tell me that this is just my personal experience and that this will change - actually I hope for this to happen.

Off-Topic:
As everyone before me commented I also want to congratulate Jörg (and Jan,too) on this great idea that is GamersGlobal- let's all hope that it works out as nicely and good as planned.

Jörg
5433 EXP -
October 31, 2007 - 15:58 #

Your're right about the grenades, which even sometimes explode far away from where they should have, according to my understanding of physics. Still, monsters that get brushed aside by explosions, boxes shattering or monster parts falling down stairs work quite well, in my opinion.

Kunzevatter
163 EXP -
October 31, 2007 - 22:06 #

Well I didn't object to the things you stated. In my opinion the physics should actually work for the grenades first since they are an essential part of gameplay for the marksman. I spotted at least 4 different types of grenades in the skill tree, so they should be somewhat worth the skill points.
Monsters getting brushed aside or pieces flying through the air are just a bonus in my opinion - I wouldn't care that much if these would look somewhat weird. The only thing I wanted to say is that if you can't really get a feel for where these grenades land, they're pretty much useless except for maybe throwing them at mass into a room around the corner that you suspect to be full of monsters.
But maybe this bouncy behavior is just right when levels tend to be a bit more crowded - looking a maybe 20 monsters in a room ? I wouldn't care which of those are hit by the grenade. So maybe these get a bit more usefull when levels get a bit more crowded.

And by the way: I didn't see any monster falling to pieces. So german version seems to be cut in that aspect.

HighOpie (not verified)
0 EXP -
October 31, 2007 - 19:15 #

Nice and objective review, Jörg! (And it's also good to have you back. I've been a GameStar reader since the first edition and somehow missed your pre- and reviews in the magazine.)

Keep going, good luck and much fun and success with your new project.

I have to leave....Hell(gate) is waiting. ;-)

regards,
HighOpie

Chris
158 EXP -
November 2, 2007 - 10:31 #

I can't help being somewhat disappointed personally: As a huge fan of TitanQuest-style isometric views and at the same time being a total loser at ego-shooters, I think I just won't be able to survive in this game. But I do hope everybody out there who likes shooters *and* action RPGs will have a great time!

And Jörg, congratulations to yet another great project! I won't be able to contribute a lot to gamersglobal.com, but will certainly stop by very often to read the latest news!

Jörg
5433 EXP -
November 2, 2007 - 14:27 #

Chris, thanks! I think that if you play the melee classes, the game resembles Diablo 2 and the like quite closely. Also, it *is* possible to play the Hunters and Cabalists in 3rd person.

Harald (not verified)
0 EXP -
November 2, 2007 - 13:27 #

After 3 hours of playing I uninstalled it, because I had absolutely no more motivation left to play any longer.

That game is the greatest personal disappointment of 2007 for me. :(

Jörg
5433 EXP -
November 2, 2007 - 14:29 #

Do you want to expand on what you didn't like?

Harald (not verified)
0 EXP -
November 2, 2007 - 17:03 #

Sure, I try to express my thoughts in proper english.
I hope it gets understandable. ;)

I had very high expectations in HGL through all the hype, media coverage and the "it is from some blizzard guys" tag.
I expected some sort of ultra-addictive diablo/wow mix. :D
(i played diablo 1 and 2. and i was "addicted" to wow for 3 years.)
I expected some sort of replacement for wow, which i stopped playing some time ago.
And I knew these expectations were maybe a bit high or wrong, but i didnt expect to be so wrong and so "low".

There were several things I didnt like:

- I found the random levels and the quests were really boring.
In these 3 hours I was just running through these random tunnels/city areas as fast as possible,
killing everything that moved, clicking fast through quest texts and just looking for the next exit
to leave that ugly level and to enter the next same looking ugly level.
Where is the experience, when you enter a new room/area and at first just stand there in awe, look around
and admire the design?
That randomized stuff just didnt work for me.

If I have the choice between:

Running 20 times through the exact same level but with nice design and attention to detail.
or
Running 20 times through some ugly randomized goo.

I will always take the first one.

- It looks ugly on my computer (sempron 3100, 1gig ram, 7600gs) with settings to get a decent framerate.

But the main killing points were:

- I missed that spark jumping over when i have a new game, which pulls me into the game and wont let me go until the end.

- I missed that feeling of "just 5 more minutes" which then turn into 5 hours. ;)

- I missed the pure addiction which lets me forget everything around me.

- I missed some nice designed levels.

- I missed the "flow" about which bill roper was talking in your interview.

and

- I miss these 3 hours of my life...

Jörg
5433 EXP -
November 3, 2007 - 14:12 #

Thanks for taking the time! Let me begin by stating that I do not think it is my job to defend Hellgate: London. But let me also say that I stay behind what I wrote in the review and the 8.5 rating. Of course, personal opinion applies to games like to books or movies. To be honest, I felt a lack of motivation too, but it came after 8 hours or so. But after one or two more hours, with new special missions and the like, I happily played on. The whole addiction stuff you didn't feel was working for me. (Even to the point where I wanted to stop, but couldn't because there was just 200 gold missing for my next weapon upgrade.) I played Hellgate with all characters, but only for a couple of hours. I played it with the Guardian for about 10 hours, and I've put the vast majority of my playing time into the Marksman character. The Diablo principle in a 3D shooter form worked very, very well for me, I really enjoyed it. Regarding the nicely designed levels you are missing, there are a few which are created instead of randomized. But they are few and far between, and I can agree with you on that. But keep in mind how much of Diablo 2 was also randomized, so we are really talking about Titan Quest or Sacred here. For the "flow": again, that worked for me. I've encountered many situations were I was continiously fighting for 15 or 20 minutes, and where I felt proud to have survived afterwards. I am not at all saying that you should have felt the same; so I am sorry that the game didn't work out for you.

Will (not verified)
0 EXP -
November 4, 2007 - 03:08 #

Hey Jörg, that was a great review. I just stumbled on to this site by accident, and I have to say with Gamespot and many other companies shunting aside PC reviews in favor of the newest console flavor of the hour, it's refreshing to come back to game reviews done right. Having said that, I have to agree with Harald about the game lacking a certain magic to it, which I think come down not so much to the level designs or gameplay itself, but rather, a general lack of engagement between me and the game. For instance, when I played Diablo series, there was a sense of progress and attachment to the characters even though there was a lot of text reading. Here, I'm just whacking away at the text, reading the quest log, and then going out to kill everything in sight (for some reason, this seemed ok for Diablo but didn't quite work for this game).

Perhaps that might have sufficed back in the early days of hack and slash RPGs, but now, it just seems empty as a game. That isn't to say the game doesn't have amazing action sequences and visuals, but I just couldn't get into the game. Maybe it was the lack of separation between acts and the fact that I couldn't save where and when I wanted to (which I think is completely retarded and left me wondering why any company would do that to a gamer. So, in the end, while it was fun for the dozen hours that I logged in, it just didn't bring me back to the game (it could just be that my overall expectations have gone up over the years).

Jörg
5433 EXP -
November 4, 2007 - 11:01 #

Hi Will, you raise a very interesting question: Perhaps, despite the 3D graphics and 1st person perspective, Hellgate resembles Diablo 2 too much? Would Diablo 3 come out tomorrow with better graphics but no significant changes to the gameplay and structure, we all might not enjoy it as much as we enjoyed the predecessor. Maybe this is what has happened to many people playing Hellgate. Apart from that, I think all your points of criticism are valid; I especially can agree on the "whacking away the text". But personally, having also played the major Diablo 2 clones Sacred and Titan Quest for a long time, I have to say that I enjoyed Hellgate a little more than both of them (although I like the isometric, "painted" graphics of Titan Quest better).

Kunzevatter
163 EXP -
November 4, 2007 - 16:06 #

The question is what one (Blizzard) could change with Diablo3. Diablo 2 had 8 different classes - if you change the gameplay of these classes fans won't be that happy, if you add new classes the question is which to add such that they plays totally different from the other 8 (that's a big plus that Diablo 2 had, every class had it's own playstyle)!

Perhaps people are also a bit frustrated about the lack of new stuff Hellgate London presented. Most of the classes resemble in great ways their archetypes from Diablo 2 (not to talk of monster - these little jumping beasts not just look the same as those from Diablo 2, they also tend to annoy you with their damn jumping around ability). The summoner is somewhat of a necromancer, the blademaster is somehow a "barbarian", etc.

I know it's hard to come up with neat new ideas and I don't blame Flagship Studios for this. I' m just gessing why people tend to get bored so fast by Hellgate London.
Diablo 3 would probably have exactly the same problem.

Flo_the_G
405 EXP -
November 4, 2007 - 19:29 #

For me, Hellgate seems like WoW with a better sense of direction because of the storyquests. I instinctively began skipping the text of sidequests, and I rather enjoyed the brainless slaughter of all monsters. The levels are ugly, true, I even recognized most of the areas I've been in until now from the videos in this review, but nonetheless, I, also, like the game better than Titan Quest.
But my evoker has barely reached level 7, and I only started playing this afternoon, so who knows, maybe it'll soon become terribly boring - or the "flow" will kick in.

Anyway: great review!

gross.tim
4474 EXP -
November 5, 2007 - 18:16 #

I also want to get back to the "Diablo 3 Question".
Actually, I don´t think Blizzard would´ve to change that much. There could be some minor things which would make the game experience of Diablo 2 even better. Blizzard is a great company after all, but I think that they can´t define genres all the time. I mean, don´t misunderstand me, Starcraft and Warcraft did change the strategy genre, Diablo was responsible for the "hak´n slay" and World of Warcraft is one of the best online games ever. And I would also think that all upcoming games will be great. BUT(!): As you can see at the moment, those guys are not godlike and can change genres all the time. They´re developing Starcraft 2, which is actually like Starcraft 1, just minor changes, so the units get more different and the graphic gets an update as well. There are not infinite ways of altering a genre. They already did a great job with Warcraft 3, adding the role-playing part. And WOW made it easy for everyone to get into the game and stick to it. But the first addon to WOW was just WOW all over again, not too many changes. Details mostly, to make it more comfortable.
If Diablo 3 would get out, I´d say there wouldn´t be too many differences compared to Diablo 2. Maybe a more disctinctive online part, resembling WOW. Maybe one character which hasn´t been in the genre in that way before. And that is okay. It is not about how innovative the game will be, but about how much fun you have while playing it!!!
Hellgate has the problem of rather dull quests (in my opinion) and the non-present story. So I´d say it´s a good game, but never ever better than Diablo 2 was, because there are too many bloopers for that.

Okay, that´s enough. But I also want to congratulate Jörg to his new, amazing idea. I hope things work out for you. I don´t think I´ll have so much time to spare for this site, but I´ll try, because the project deserves it.
And another thing: Since you left the Gamestar, the fun-videos were never as funny any more. In Raumschiff Gamestar it was your special type of humor that made it great, at least in my opinion (but Gamestar is still a great magazine^^)

Cheers

Flo_the_G
405 EXP -
November 5, 2007 - 22:10 #

I totally agree, Raumschiff Gamestar with Jörg was always awesome.

Joshua (not verified)
0 EXP -
November 6, 2007 - 16:02 #

I'm having hard time understanting such high notation on this game.
It's actually
1) filled with tons of bugs / crashes
2) incomplete in terms of features (both for subscribers and non-subs.)
3) not very innovative neither in gameplay, nor in graphics.

I've spent some decent time on this game, almost finish normal mode. And i think i will love this game, once complete, if the devs do their work.

Actually it's like being in a beta, except that we pay for this, and some people subscribe monthly in top of that.

There are great promises on futute enhancements to the game, and maybe i'll subscribe in a couple of months, because i like that king of game..
But i feel annoyed playing today because of the enormous amount of errors and bugs..

Hopefully that will change, but providing today a top score to the game don't seem fair to me.

Jörg
5433 EXP -
November 6, 2007 - 19:39 #

Hi Joshua, I am sorry that the score of 8.5 doesn't seem fair to you. Let me just say that I did not encounter crashes, there were some bugs in the review version like partly invisible weapons (from time to time), and some things regarding the graphical options. I think the graphics and the gameplay are complete and good. Is it possible that the problems that are annoying you are mainly part of the multiplayer mode (as hinted at in your 2) )?

Starkiller
1470 EXP -
November 30, 2007 - 14:49 #

After spending some time with my copy of the game, I have to admit that I'm fairly disappointed myself. As Jörg said before, th Item-System with all the upgrades and possibilities, works great, but the level design doesn't work for me at all, seeing the same rooms and hallways and same levelpieces over and over again simple bores me to tears. It was totally ok for Diablo to use random levels and as players we were fine with killing the same 5 enemies a thousend times over and over again, but it's 2007 now and Games have to be much more immersive than that, atleast for me.

So I'm kinda glad I couldn't get my Hands on the Collectors Edition now, because after three weeks I probably won't touch the game ever again. Which is really sad, since I was looking forward to this game for years.

Flo_the_G
405 EXP -
November 30, 2007 - 17:22 #

My char has been stuck at level 19 or so for two weeks now, and it doesn't look as if he'll ever pass lvl 20... I guess the complete lack of an interesting story and the constant repetition of levels and enemies just bugged me a bit to much.

Replica Bags Online (not verified)
0 EXP -
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