Hellgate: London is a bit of an oddity as far as a I’m concerned. It’s an action RPG with hybrid elements which can be played with third or first person perspectives in levels which are dynamically generated and populated with demons and high-tech weaponry - but I wasn't massively worked up about it before the launch.
It’s that last bit which is what makes it an oddity by the way, because normally this type of game is right up my street. Usually when I hear about games with descriptions along these lines I morph from my usual Clark-Kent-alike journalist persona into something altogether more untoward – a hungry supergeek obsessed with the game and nothing else.
With Hellgate: London though, that isn’t what happened and the game has been one which I’ve known about but never really pursued an active interest in.
The reason for my being put-off was, I think, the way that the game was being primarily marketed on the merits of the multiplayer side, which requires a subscription for players to unlock a lot of key bits. Inventory slots and storage, for example.
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That said, when the game landed on my desk my interest was re-kindled a little and I found myself getting excited about the game once more - though whether or not that new surge of interest was bought on by the swanky, flame-covered packaging is an issue for another day. Right now, I’m more concerned about whether or not the game can live up to the substantial hype it has managed to build up from everyone else in this new post-WoW world…
Remember the dead
The premise and story for the game is fairly simple, which is something unsurprising when you familiarise yourself with the team behind the game. Hellgate is developed by Flagship Studios, a developer founded by Bill Roper and a few other ex-Blizzard figureheads who worked on games like Diablo.
Like Diablo and Warcraft, Hellgate is a game which doesn’t try to hook players in with a startlingly complex and epic story like some games do. Instead, the focus is on gameplay – but we’ll get to that in a minute.
So, the story is this; DEMONS or, to give you the long version: OMG! DEMONS!
Yep, the world has been taken over by demons who’ve emerged from the titular hellgate underneath London. Personally, I thought the hellgate was in America, but nevermind.
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Turns out that this isn’t the first time the demons have tried to take over Earth either and the game references real-life events such as the Crusades and the Great Fire of London as efforts to kill the demons – events which have been cleverly disguised.
The demons are battled by the Knights Templar, a group who have fallen back into fashion ever since the Da Vinci Code unfortunately found its way onto bookshelves globally. The Templar were masters of the arcane and had always fought the demons back when they emerged, but the group is nothing but a small handful of men in modern times.
Although the Templars do their best to reform and battle the menace, they are laughed at by the army and the demons manage to take over the world, starting the process of ‘hell-forming’ it into their idea of paradise. The remaining Templars join up with the now-shattered armies ( who’s laughing now, eh? ) and fuse their abilities to create blessed weapons capable of pushing the demons back. Hopefully.
This is where the player enters the game as a templar novice in one of six available classes, ready to take the fight to the demons and take back the city of London.