Heimdall 2

Platform: PC
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 1 vote
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Heimdall 2
Heimdall 2
Heimdall 2
Heimdall 2

If nothing else, you probably remember the axe throwing arcade section from the original Heimdall. It attracted quite a lot of attention, and even got the mighty Dominic Diamond into trouble on Gamesmaster. The rest of the game was quite good too - a sort of adventure with a strong arcade element and plenty of puzzles concerning Heimd-all's quest for the god's armoury that had been pinched and scattered all over the shop. Heimdall was so well received that the only real puzzle was how long before the sequel came out. The answer is this long, 'cos here it is.

Once more, Heimdall has to return to the land of the mortals, following in the footsteps of the unlucky (and now unliving) Baldur. His quest is to retrieve the four pieces of a powerful amulet that Odin needs to defeat Loki. These pieces have been scattered throughout the different worlds, which can only be entered from the Hall of Worlds. Of course, the "keys" to these worlds have also been scattered, so Heimdall has to retrieve them first.

Core are to be sincerely congratulated on managing to use the same scenario twice in one game.

Ride of the Valkyries

Since Baldur made such a pigs ear out of his attempt at the quest, the gods have decided that Heimdall probably needs a bit of help. Therefore, he gets landed with Ursha, a Valkyrie. You can swap between the two characters whenever you like. The Valkyries are the pall bearers of the gods, so Ursha's bound to be a cheery soul with a great line in sick jokes. This being a computer game she also has the sort of gravity defying chest that would make Dolly Parton weep and she seems somewhat under-dressed for the weather. I don't know, maybe gods don't get colds.

The doors of perception

At the beginning of the game you're in a room (well, more of an astral plane really. I've just got no sense of imagination) leading off from which are a number of doors. Each of these doors leads you into another world. At the beginning of the game you can only access one world, so you need to find the keys to the other doors as well as the pieces of amulet.

Once in a world you may travel to its various islands by boat (controlled on a map screen). On the islands there's the usual mix of bods either trying to kill you, interest you in the whereabouts of their sister or sell you a moth-eaten piece of chain mail. What you're looking for is the Ro'Geld. Each world has one, and it's a hot tip for the location of a piece of amulet. Of course, you're endlessly being diverted into sub quests - the kidnap rate in these worlds would keep the tabloids busy for years.

In the eye of the beholder

Most of the game is viewed from a 3d-isometric viewpoint and the graphics are on the pretty good side of Okay. Sprites are quite large and reasonably well animated. The actual style of the drawing is cartoony in a bande dessine kind of way. Does that sound horribly poncey? Yes. Well what I mean is they're cartoony but not cartoony as in Disney or even Master of the Universe. Hell, why am I bothering to explain, you only have to look at the screen grabs. The point is that, although the graphics are good they're not atmospheric. They place the game very much in the world of the light-hearted romp. This, of course, need not be a bad thing, but heavily-bearded rpg types might be disappointed. Not that Heimdal! 2 is, or even pretends to be an rpg. The character interaction is fairly notional. The only element that is quite strong is the magic. Spells are created by mixing together different rune stones and can be bought or discovered by trial and error. (In my case it was more error than trial). However, I'm reallyjust stalling for time here, trying to put off the evil moment, but there's no getting away from it.

Thin line between love and hate

It's a long time since I've been quite so wound up by a game as I was by Heimdall 2. The ideas and the graphics are both of the good, if not stunningly original category. But the gameplay? Hanging's too good for it, I tell you. 1 don't know where to begin in my list of faults, so I suppose I'll start with the worst. The control system would have had me tearing my hair out, if I'd had any left to tear. Supposedly, the character can be controlled by keyboard or mouse. Well, the mouse is a waste of time for starters; sometimes the character moves to where you click, but more often he/she doesn't. Whether they move or not seems to be determined entirely by luck. When you use the keyboard it's like trying to lead a drunkard through a maze. For a one-time god, HeimdalTs crap at finding his way around furniture, rocks or small blades of grass. Getting through doors etc. requires pixel-perfect accuracy, which, since it's a nightmare to stop him walking once you've started, comes down to luck. Even going up or down relatively wide stairs requires a degree of precision not normally seen outside a micro surgery unit. This is not only irritating, it also effects the game since you lose confidence in it. Can you not get through that door because it's locked or because the program's too crap to let you through?

Almost as bad is the combat. Not only is your character's response to your frantic "Fight" commands fairly unreliable but they both have an alarming tendency to turn away from an opponent and hack at the air. This happened to me more times than not. I'd line up with some goblin , click on the right mouse button and watch resignedly as my Heimdall or Ursha turned away and started fighting imaginary enemies behind them. Ultimately, the only solution is to run away all the time (a philosophy I've always been a devoted follower of), but then you find you can't get through the door/up and down the stairs/over the snowflake and there's no point trying to turn round. Death becomes you.

There are other elements of the game that are odd (when one character dies it vanishes, the other character reappears some way off, yet is immediately able to pick up all their deceased companion's items) or downright irritating (when both characters are dead you don't get a chance to restore a game, instead you get kicked out to dos). However, it's the control system that did it for me. At heart Heimdall 2 is a good, probably a very good game, but for me the control system made it virtually unplayable. If it played even averagely well 1 think the game would have scored high '60s, maybe even '70s, as it is, the only reason it gets the score it does is that I'm such an old softy. I don't know whether it's the fault of the game or the conversion but it's bloomin' irritating. Oh and the manual's crap as well.

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PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

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