Hellgate: London wishes it were a lot of things: Diablo III, an MMO, and fun, to name a few. However, the game is as related to Blizzard’s epic series as a soiled napkin is to the New Yorker. Hellgate isn’t an MMO either; Flagship Studios would love to upcharge you $10 a month for additional content (which is limited to a meager number of quests and items, as well as guild support and increased inventory space), but Hellgate’s core mechanics aren’t even on par with those of games that lack a monthly fee, such as Guild Wars.
You can upgrade your favorite weapons, but Flagship killed this feature by limiting the number of times you can make changes.
Even if we leave its uncanny resemblance to Diablo out of the equation—which hardly seems fair, given that Hellgate’s predecessor is in many ways better—we’ve been given an experience that feels rushed in every way. Abandon all hope ye who choose to take on this quest.
We’d normally use this paragraph to offer up some witty retelling of Hellgate’s plot, but the game fails to tell a cohesive story. The inside jokes and witticisms just aren’t funny, and they take up a majority of the NPCs’ spoken or typed text. They give Hellgate an amateur-hour feel, and it’s a shame that the game’s irritating dialogue system doesn’t help matters at all. Rather than getting all the text at once, or even a hefty paragraph, you must click “Next” to reward yourself with the next line of prose.
Luckily, since most of the quests are of the FedEx variety, you can simply skip the game’s dialogue without missing any details. Just know that for all the times you enter an instance to kill multiple iterations of the same demon, you’re doing something good. And somehow, these acts of heroism all build up to what one might call an ending, were there a discernable plot in Hellgate worth resolving.
Hellgate’s bonus levels—random entryways scattered throughout the map—are well worth skipping; you’re better off using the time to grind.
To its credit, Flagship’s developers make the quests a bit more technically interesting as you get closer to the endgame. For example, watching hordes of NPC characters clear out the baddies on a level is a moment worth relishing, given that you’ve just spent four acts killing the same zombies left and right. But there’s nothing more infuriating than seeing said legions of NPCs slaying quest-specific monsters and giving you no credit for the kill. The solution? You’re forced to either run through the level like a madman, hoping to hell that the train of baddies behind you can’t kill you before you find your eight kills—or jump in and out of the instance in an attempt to reset the level’s enemies.
It’s a wonderful moment when Hellgate rewards your progress by letting you sit back and stop playing the game. While this was surely intended as a way to develop the plot, we consider it an act of charity for such a miserable bloody romp through London.
It’s the closest you’re going to get to a first-person Diablo.
Poor inventory trading mechanism; server glitches force you to restart from your last save.