A fun and colourful isometric ARPG romp through the classic legends of Greece, Egypt, Asia and Scandinavia as our stalwart hero personally ends every mythological threat to the ancient world.
This re-release of the last decade’s most cutting-edge Action Roleplaying Game remains a highly commendable example of graphical fidelity and gameplay which remains so recognisable due largely in part to how many ease-of-use features of the game would become ubiquitous standards in the genre.
This “Anniversary Edition” packs all of the original 2006 release and its subsequent Immortal Throne expansion into the single overarching linear narrative which spans three continents and literally goes to Hell and back in the name of depicting the myths and folklore of yore. Available for this edition only is the Ragnarök DLC, a surprise fifth act to follow the story’s original conclusion into Celtic and Nordic Northern Europe on one more epic clash of cosmologies for our hero to bear full firsthand witness to.
Layout of the screen is clean and easily made sense of, the character interface will be instantly familiar to any newcomers to this game with even the slightest experience of any Western digital RPGs in the last ten year, and one must remember that this game popularised such a format in the days when text-walls and virtual statistics spreadsheets were the still very much the norm. The available panels include the character page, where one manages equipment, a simple streamline branching skill tree, and a map-select screen, wherein one can teleport to any major town visited at any time, for no cost – showing a much more simple approach to contemporary competitors such as the two original Diablo games (which were the dominant games of the medium at the time) and other isometric point-and-click dungeon crawlers by reducing the amount of repetitive and technical aspects of such games and maintaining a quick pace through a slew of interesting and highly varied locales.
To this end, the story (which was penned by Age of Empires veteran designer Brian Sullivan and Braveheart screenwriter Randall Wallace) will take the player-character, an otherwise undefined man or woman, clad in your-choice colour of tunic, as they follow one of a huge number of available character builds and skillset combinations from a humble beginnings in Greek peasant village to fight your way across a ravaged countryside of slavering beasts, maddened half-human monsters, and magical constructs until you become acutely aware of the mortal peril mankind has found itself in a must fight against all odds to resist against. You’ll see the heights of Classical Greek civilisation, the sandy dunes and musty tombs of Old Kingdom Egypt, and the majesty of the Far East as your rise to become humanity’s champion saviour. The fourth act follows on from your dealings with these events to see the underworld be spilt wide open and for a horde of demons and undead sprits ride out, before the well-named expansion sequel sees your self-insert hero tested up against the hardest threats and most apocalyptic situations yet. It’s a decent linear story to justify your roaring rampage against foul monsters from a prestigious duo of writing talent with the occasional genuinely great bit of dialogue from one of hundreds (if not thousands) of fully-voiced NPC bystanders and a few good story twists thrown in here and there.
Titan Quest AE is a good buy for anyone looking for a simple dungeon crawler to get them started with the format, or for any returning fans looking for that remastered nostalgia. While richly detailed and set in a vast world, the content with in is, however, finite, with no randomly generated dungeons or post-story game apart from trying another of the three difficulty settings, unlike some similar games which keep up a persistent grinding zone or continue to provide harder and harder foes. Even with dozens of character builds and skill paths, one will tire fairly quickly from the repetitive nature of the combat, and unfortunately, the potential for roleplay is limited by the linear and unchanging storyline. One can play online in groups of up-to-six separate players, and while it is nice to see attention brought to the game’s otherwise long-dormant servers, the reality of seeing five other players taking the loot and XP while you are often lagging behind them does generally not make the game any more fun, and that being said, you might even struggle to find and connect to a server given the crash-frequent nature of the MP browser and the shocking amount of cheaters who choose to grief open lobbies with blatantly-edited “hacked” items which just simply kill everyone on the server ad infinitum.
One might get more mileage from the game by working towards the achievements, or the Trading Card badges that come with the game’s full Steam integration, or by using the in-built mod browser to find community-created content to play around with. However, while promising, there is a distinct lack of decent modded content at time of writing, which will hopefully cease being an issue in time. Alternately for the singleplayer purist looking to grind out 100% completion from the Achievements is in for a long and frustrating ride as many of the achievements within are simply obtuse in design or require hundreds of hours of dedication, which will leave a bad taste in the mouth of anyone purely interested in this game with more casual intentions.
This is ultimately a good game, with many appealing features for fans of the medium old and new. However, it is dogged by a handful of more frustrating elements that might end up pushing you away after some time. Consider it while it’s on sale, and keep an open mind, and you’ll hopefully enjoy it though.