You've been waiting for Diablo 3? Well here it is, except it's called Titan Quest and set in classical Greece, China, and Egypt, and it's not by Blizzard. No, it doesn't have satanic minions or blood or big glowing pentagrams, but it does have demons, skeletons, and epic monsters like a screen-chomping Cyclops. Oh, and partial nudity, whatever that means.
If you've been missing the genre where left-clicking does all, boy does developer Iron Lore have a gem for you. Take three parts top-down hack-a-thon and zero parts plot and out pops Titan Quest, the ultimate in slicing, dicing, and literally hurling monster-fodder around the screen. Pick a gender and listen to the "okay, we'll have one if we must" introduction about those pesky Titans that Zeus imprisoned suddenly breaking free, then you’re off to surf bawdy throngs of satyrs, spiders, centaurs, and myrmidons as you pinball from city to city in search of the ultimate gear and the coolest monster to kill with it.
Hit level one and you'll pick a "mastery," which amounts to a skill track. Lightning, fire, offensive or defensive melee paths, it’s your call, and all the basic permutations like weapons vs. spells, long vs. short-range, etc. are here. Each skill track comes loaded with passive or active powers, which you can level as you gain skill points by completing quests and offing creatures. Later, you get to pick a second mastery and either play to existing strengths or branch in some unrelated direction, which is another great example of how Titan Quest keeps you strategizing without really making you think.
The interface, cake as they come, looks not a little like Diablo and World of Warcraft fooled around. For instance, items are colored similar to WoW's: white for standard, purple for legendary, and comparable yellows, greens, and blues between. An experience bar slowly creeps rightward as you liquidate enemies. Several of the monsters share similar names, and the skill trees work suspiciously like WoW's talent system.
But who cares? Imitation in this case is the sincerest form of delivering the goods. In a few spots, it's even modestly enterprising, like the dual weapon-sets which let you quick swap a sword and shield for bow and arrow without popping into inventory and dragging things around. On the other hand, you have amateur mistakes like a map you can't click on to send yourself hiking over long stretches if you need to backtrack for a side quest or want to clear an area you bypassed. Or how about spell effect icons that give no sense of duration? Inefficiently auto-organizing inventory slots? No way to pan the camera around transparency-befuddled cave walls or cliff ledges?
But those are minor nits compared to everything Titan Quest nails. And heaven forbid you tire of repetitive creature-clobbering - take your game online and swap in up to six players, then keep on playing solo after they've left, or bring them back again later. Come on... how cool is that?