Titan Quest: Immortal Throne Review
|Genre:||Hack 'n' Slash RPG|
|Release Date:||9th March, 2007 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||James Barlow (Malis)|
Titan Quest was released last summer to some considerable critical success. An unashamed Diablo-clone, Titan Quest took the somewhat stale Hack ' n' Slash genre and breathed a welcome lease of life into it. Featuring great graphics, rag-doll physics, hordes of mythical monsters and more loot than all of King Midas' treasury, it was clear that developers Iron Lore had successfully claimed Diablo's gore-soaked crown with their own Titan Quest.
Which all makes an expansion pack both predictable and welcome. The main Titan Quest game is rich and rewarding to journey back to, but even the seasoned veteran will admit the original game was not without its flaws. Titan Quest: Immortal Throne adds a host of long overdue changes as well as a new act and story to accompany it.
The main focus of the expansion is undoubtedly the new content, and the extra act slots neatly into the end of the original game. After the events of Titan Quest your hero is suddenly contacted by the shade of the prophet Tiresias, who sets the adventurer on another epic journey that includes a trip to Hades, the Ancient Greek underworld. As ever in these sort of games, the story soon takes a back-seat as you battle through a variety of locations, ranging from swamp and jungle, to haunted towns and Elysium itself. There's more variety in this single new act than in most of the original game, and it's a real joy to set-off into unexplored territory once more.
Graphically, Immortal Throne looks as fresh and lush as the main game did half a year ago. The gorgeous backdrops are stunning, while there seems to be an even greater array of effects on show than ever before; from rippling grass to mist-laden dungeons. As I mentioned in my review of Titan Quest, it's the attention to detail, specifically in animation, that really set this game head and shoulders above anything else. Monsters move in exactly the way you expect them to - which may not sound like much, but is definitely noticeable when it works. The new foes in Immortal Throne are kind of similar to those we've seen before - mostly just new twists on beastmen - but there's enough show-stoppers in the mix to make it all worthwhile. And they're hard too - Iron Lore aren't afraid to up the tempo in their new act, with hordes of enemies far greater than many you'll see elsewhere in the game, many equipped with nasty abilities too.
On top of a new act, Iron Lore have added in an extra mastery (skill tree) called Dream. A magic based mastery, Dream adds some interesting new options to a player's arsenal. Spells like Sands of Sleep allow you to immobilise foes and act as a form of crowd control, while powerful auras share damage enemies inflict on you back to them, increase your recovery rate. Later abilities include powerful direct damage spells and the customary pet summon (this time a Nightmare, which has the ability to mind-control enemies). It's an interesting new set, and one that is actually great fun, both for new players, and those experts who love exploring every avenue in combining masteries to form ultimate killing machines.
New content is great, but as ever it's in the nuances and changes that really make an expansion shine. Immortal Throne adds a host of important features absent from Titan Quest, simultaneously taking the game to new heights and improving the original experience even further. Of these changes, most important is the introduction of caravan drivers. Essentially a travelling bank, their presence will be welcome relief to those adventurers who simply have too much gear to carry. Drop of some items with one caravan driver and you can go and fetch it again from any other you encounter in the game world. In addition, there's a transfer area of storage - where you can store items to be transferred across characters. No longer do you have to throw away that amazing staff, just because your dumb brute of a warrior only knows how to cleave skulls with an axe. No, now you simply pop it into the transfer area for use by another character. It's a small change, but an absolute blessing for anyone who intends to play through the game more than once.
Which leaves not being able to un-socket items as the only major gripe with the game. Except that it's not, as Iron Lore have even fixed that. All hail the enchanter, another new merchant who can removed relics from weapons or armour for a price - you get to choose whether to keep the relic or the item. No more hunting around for the same relics every time you upgrade a weapon! An enchanter's other function is to create artefacts for you, and a new slot has been added for these items of unbelievable power. There's a catch though - there's a recipe for each one. The recipes alone are an uncommon drop, and the reagents then required to make each one can be quite imposing. It's worth gathering them though, as the stat boosts from most artefacts is really quite amazing. All in all, it's a welcome addition to the game that opens up even more opportunity to create a devastating avatar. Iron Lore have also included tons of new items and sets, some with new abilities (many items now boost your pet, who also now have options to set their aggressiveness), and even scrolls that give one-shot bursts of powerful spells when used.
All this, and they even took the time to tart up the online mode. While multiplayer in Titan Quest has always been a bit hit and miss down to the client-side nature of the game, Iron Lore have gone some way to easing our pains with an improved lobby system - making it easier to see all the important details of an open game. On top of this, there's now optional PvP, and a most welcome inspect feature - that allows you to view your team-mates' inventory screen, much like in World of Warcraft. Really, Iron Lore have left no stone unturned in improving the original Titan Quest experience, though I'd still only really recommend playing online with trusted friends or groups.
Immortal Throne isn't a hard game to review - if you have the original Titan Quest it's a must buy. While adding cool new content, it also improves the original experience by tenfold, and as such is a real no-brainer if you remotely liked the main game. Will it persuade those of you who don't own Titan Quest to go pick it up? Probably not, no. It's more of the same fast, furious, bloodthirsty, addictive gaming that those who avoided arguably one of the best games of last year didn't appreciate. Madness? This is Sparta.
- New act is good fun
- Dream mastery slots in nicely
- Countless improvements to the original experience
- Still great fun
Not so good stuff
- Won't change your opinion if you didn't like it before
- At the end of the day, just an expansion
- Only around 10 hours of new content