The second you’ve loaded this game (and beware, you’re going to need 5GB of hard drive space) you instantly feel like you’re in familiar territory. When you then do a bit of research and discover that the development company is Iron Lore and the creator is Brian Sullivan of Age of Empires fame, it all starts to click.
What we have here is an amalgam of Diablo II and Age of Mythology, an RPG where the hero has to grow in experience and ability by doing constant battle with a huge range of mythological monsters. The plot is as basic as they come – the Titans have escaped from their supposedly eternal prison and are wreaking merry Hell across the planet. Your job, should you decide to accept, is to get trained and tooled up and find a way to get them banged up again.
The action is spread over a vast area covering Greece, Egypt and China, and both moving and combat are achieved by the tried and tested left-click of the mouse method. When travelling some distance you’ll come across Portals that become activated and enable you to go instantly to that location on the world map. In addition, you can set up mini portals of your own as a means of getting out of trouble fast when enemies surround you.
Essentially the game is a continuous and horribly addictive kill-fest where you get into a cycle of dispatching beasts, gathering their loot, trading lots of it with a merchant for cash, upgrading and heading out on the next quest. You choose one of eight Masteries (hunting, storm, earth, defence, nature, warfare, spirit and rogue) and develop the skill tree within, and later you can add a second.
There are side quests within each level but they are invariably the same as the main quests, as you have to rescue someone or clear a road or cave by hitting lots of heads. If you die (and you will, frequently, in the harder levels) you re-spawn not too far from where you fell, with all your health and energy and gear intact, so the game barely pauses. Although you can manually save a game, when you re-load you will end up at the nearest checkpoint and often have to fight the same battle again, which is very frustrating.
The other irritation is the small capacity of your inventory (although some expansion sacks become available later) which means that many tasty items have to be left behind. The 3D graphics, though, are gorgeous and when you zoom in on a Minotaur or the Great Pyramid or a Hydra, you do feel like you’re in the thick of the action. The acting voices of the NPCs are much better than the usual corny clones and the music, as well as the effects, match the tone powerfully and intelligently.
The replayability of Titan Quest is considerable because as well as the three difficulty levels, eight Masteries and three attributes you can top up (strength, intelligence, dexterity), you can also play cooperatively with six people online and even design your own levels with the World Editor.