It’s always a worry when games from the past are remastered. Is it better to remember those games how they were through rose-tinted glasses? Often the end result leaves you realising just how much games have improved over the years, and that your favourite game from the past wasn’t as good as you remembered. However, these remasters can reach a new younger audience, so there is some merit in revitalising these old games. Titan Quest is one of these games that have been given the HD treatment. Originally released on PC in 2006, its now available on PS4 and Xbox One. So, how will this shape up?
Titan Quest is an RPG that follows a player-created protagonist as they navigate Ancient Greece, Egypt and China on a quest to defeat the Titans after they escape from their ancient prison. Most modern gamers will find comparisons with the Diablo series of games. Titan Quest was the brain-child of the legendary game designer Brian Sullivan and the script was written by Randall Wallace, so there was some good pedigree behind the original game.
Unfortunately the biggest flaw of this remake is experienced almost immediately after you create your character and set foot in the world of Ancient Greece. The control of your character is very cumbersome in both movement and combat and the game immediately feels like its going to be a hard slog. As a games reviewer this is the hardest place to be, as you have to persevere just in case the character progression improves the gameplay. I won’t lie, this has been the hardest game to battle with since I started reviewing.
As you progress through the game you gain experience points through defeating enemies and completing quests from the various NPC’s you’ll meet on your travels. These are used to upgrade character attributes such as health and energy levels, dexterity, intelligence, or strength. Your character also has equipment slots which can be filled with the usual weapons and armour, but also bracelets and trinkets which will give further buffs to your stats. As per the usual format in RPG’s you will have both main and side quests to complete. Fighting takes the form of real-time hack and slash combat, with players attacking randomly-generated enemies highlighted automatically. If you die, you will respawn at rebirth fountains scattered through the world. Enemies will drop items and equipment that you can use to upgrade your current equipment and you will also find chests around the world which will also contain upgrades.
After levelling up for the first time, the player can access Masteries, which are skill tree-based upgrade systems where skill points can be used to access and boost different skills. There are eight available Masteries to choose from (Defence, Warfare, Hunting, Rogue, Earth, Storm, Nature and Spirit). Players can access two Masteries at any one time, mixing skills from both trees. The combination of different Masteries create different character classes: for instance, combining Nature and Earth Masteries grants players the “Summoner” class, while Defense and Warfare Masteries create the “Conqueror”. There are 36 possible Classes, which include pure disciplines within one Mastery and hybrids between different Masteries.
I picked the Hunter class for my first playthrough, meaning I was extremely proficient with a bow. However, this felt like a bad choice as I proceeded through the first few hours, due to the previously mentioned combat which was so slow and cumbersome that when I encountered a number of enemies I was left with no choice but to run away and then stopping briefly to fire one shot. There are no options to dodge or roll, so if you are getting punished in a fight then only option is to run. And there was a lot of running in my first few hours and it wasn’t at all enjoyable. In total, I got through over six hours of gameplay and things didn’t improve, so at that point I called time on my Titan Quest journey.
It’s a real shame, as there is a huge amount of depth to this game. I know I have only scratched the surface when it comes to stats and masteries, but when the gameplay is this crude and cumbersome its almost a travesty that anyone other than a real fan will ever persevere enough to see it. There are a number of other basic faults that ruin the experience of Titan Quest. When an enemy is defeated they drop items for you to pick up, a task which would be easy when using a PC mouse and keyboard, but it doesn’t seem to have been updated to suit a controller, so the method of just picking up the single item you want is almost impossible and you end up having to pick up everything before heading into the equally cumbersome character menu in order to drop the items you don’t need. The quest system is equally as frustrating, as the map doesn’t seem to show where the quest is. Even a simple map marker would be helpful.
Graphically it’s OK. You have the ability to zoom the camera all the way in or all the way out, and the latter feels the way to play as the world and characters look detailed enough for this generation of consoles. When it is zoomed all the way in you can really notice how poor the graphics are, as can be seen in the following image. The newly recorded voice acting is also pretty nice.
I am sure to face the wrath of hardcore Titan Quest fans on the outcome of this review, but I am sorry to say that the game really shows its age. To give it some positives it is a faithfully remastered version of the original game, that I am sure will be loved by fans of the original. Perhaps if the controls and combat had been updated along with the graphics then the outcome might be different for newcomers, but unfortunately Titan Quest is ruined by these basics. Casual gamers picking this up will probably also give up quite easily and return to the more polished modern RPG’s. Definitely one for the true fans.