I suspect if in the future I’m reviewing another expansion pack, TQ: IT is going to be the yardstick against which I measure it. Everything you would expect from an expansion pack is in here – a new character class (only in TQ they call them Masteries), new monsters, a new adventure, and generally just more stuff around in terms of items, scrolls, artifacts, and that kind of thing. More importantly, to me at any rate, are the numerous small changes they’ve made to the user interface, single and multiplayer, that take some of the tiny annoyances out of the game making the whole experience more fun.
As a quick summary, for those of you who missed my previous review, Titan Quest is a suped up version of Diablo (I called it Diablo 2.5). Using a simple mouse click interface, you maneuver around an isometric 3D map, attack monsters, interact with other characters, pick up loot, and open chests and such. As a conservative estimate, I’ve made 2 million mouse clicks – those with weak carpal tunnels need not apply.
The new adventure is maybe plotted a little less coherently than the last one. Something is going on in the world, there are demons and such wandering around, but the opening movie is the same movie from the original TQ, so it’s a little unclear what you’re trying to do. The quest journal system makes it clear what you’re trying to at any given moment, but fitting it into the overall story is hazy. I’m looking for some magical eye owned by some witches, I’m trying to recover Charon’s oar; I have no idea why. I’m not sure that I technically even care. There are a couple of thousand monsters between my goal and me, and they all must die.
They’ve added so many new tiny things that I’d feel kind of stupid just trying to list them all, but I am going to hit on the ones that made the greatest impact to me.
Managing your inventory no longer requires dragging items around in the square grid of your storage space by hand to fit the pieces together like some kind of retarded jigsaw puzzle – a single mouse click does it for you. Maybe I’m spoiled in that I think the computer could do it all by itself without even that single mouse click on my part, but it is a vast improvement. The algorithm that does the fit work isn’t perfect, but it does pretty well and it does save you a couple of dozen clicks easily.
They’ve added a merchant called an enchanter who removes relics from items (for a price). It allows you to transfer relics to new items that you pick up, and given how long it takes to assemble find enough pieces to complete any particular relic it is nice to be able to retrieve them. You can unfortunately save only either the item or the relic, not both, so it doesn’t let you sort of mix and match relics and items at pseudo-random looking for the most powerful combinations, but it’s better than nothing. The enchanter also can create new artifacts for you using a new item called an arcane formula, but I found collecting all the components necessary to complete the formula so difficult that I never successfully completed a single one.
It is now possible to lock the item pickup so that you no longer pick up broken or non-magical items accidentally while clicking around the map. Because almost every monster in the game veritably showers equipment when it dies it is not uncommon to have dozens of items on the screen at any one time, and avoiding them as you traveled was almost unavoidable. Thankfully, that problem is solved.
The multiplayer interface has been overhauled, and while a lot of the information isn’t all that important to me personally, the indication of the game language is a huge plus, as I was very tired of ending up in games among German or French players. They have also, incidentally, included PvP in (custom) multiplayer games, which isn’t something I was personally looking for, but the option is now there for people who want it.
Graphics and sounds are, at least as far as I can tell, unchanged. TQ remains one of the best looking isometric 3D adventures out there with blowing fields of grass and glowing firelight and lots of different spell effects, and the monsters are minutely and intricately animated. Sounds are good. Dolby 5.1 now is supposedly supported in the expansion pack, though I don’t have the speakers for it so I can’t test it.
TQ: IT gives a lot of fresh playtime to an adventure that had sort of fallen off my radar. I’d run through the adventure a couple of times; I’d run around the same adventure in multiplayer coop mode a bit, and then I’d put it aside. Now I’m back in, looking around a new adventure with new monsters. It’s not infinitely replayable, but it’s good for another 15 or 20 hours, which as expansion packs go is, I think, AOK.