2000 Reviews


  • Review Date: 2001-01
  • Release Date: 2000-11
  • Developer: Human Head Studios
  • Rating: 9.5

Rune wasn't one of the upcoming games I was eagerly looking forward to. Being a third person, part RPG. But this is one of the best game I've played in a long time.

The game starts with a nice cutscene in a great looking village. Straight away the game was like nothing I had seen before. You soon end up dead and floating underwater, but help comes from the god Odin who brings you back to life so that you can try to defend the runes from the evil. The story wasn't all that easy to understand, especially with your name being Ragnar and an evil god named whom the baddies are trying to free, named Ragnarok!

After fighting crabs and other weak creatures throughout a bunch of underground caves, you make your way to a deep underground region, which is apparently hell. Not a very convincing hell, but very good nonetheless. Great stone structures and dungeons have been carved against the rock, with lava flowing below. This section of the game is definitely the weakest, as you fight Zombie's one after another. The trick is to decapitate them, otherwise they just keep getting up. Sometimes you'll get them with one hit, other times it could take several hits before you finally get the angle right. It's really just strike after strike, the Zombie's themselves are fairly pathetic and don't hurt much. It would have been much better if we didn't have to fight just these (and a few Crabs) for almost a dozen levels.

It was a great relief to reach the next part as you make your way through caverns fighting goblins, back to the surface. Some of the caverns are huge, the only other game of this sort of design being Unreal.

Once at the surface you'll find an extraordinary looking snowy township. The mix of the historic Viking village covered in snow was something very unique, and a beautiful sight. Now only did it look good, but finally the gameplay became good as you fight humans. As you encounter stronger opponents with bigger weapons, the levels start to change, until eventually you back in snowy caverns and overwhelming mountain ranges blended in with deep fog and never end chasms.

The next part of the game would have to be damn good to have beaten the previous levels, but the Dwarven region was pretty damn good. Among deep undergrowth and rivers a great town had been built. It was a perfect fantasy setting, with multi-leveled wooden structures above underground rivers and bush. As you move deeper through the Dwarven area it gets stronger in structure design. Steel is used instead of wood and brick, in what must be the 'tech' region.

The Dwarves themselves are the best characters in the game, short fat little beasts carrying a shield in one hand and a hammer or axe in the other - both pieces being as big as themselves. They get tougher as you go, as does your own weaponry. The only complaint with them is that sometimes they can make huge jumps towards you, totally defying gravity.

Soon after, you'll enter the great castle of your enemy. More Zombie's to fight, but bigger weapons and you can mow through them without a sweat. Over the last few levels the monsters become real tough, but so do you! I was rather disappointed that the final battle your enemy is just another of these bigger monsters that's slightly beefed up. It didn't take long to beat him.

The entire game, however, took a very long time to complete. Excellent recent games SOF, Elite Force and Gunman get frowned upon when compared to the length of this game.

To continue the comparing - Quake3 engine VS Unreal engine - Rune is enough to convince me that the Unreal engine is far superior to ID's popular Q3 engine, also used in Elite Force. This is mainly due to the Unreal engines' ability to have such huge areas. The enormous caverns and valleys of Rune are breathtaking, and something you won't see in any past ID engined game.

To put an end to this review, the visuals are fantastic, complimented with some really impressive textures. The levels are all quite unique and flow well between each style. Much of it would not have been possible without the Unreal engine to support the huge areas. The fog and snow and sound effects help to create a very atmospheric setting. Although Rune is based around the same historic fantasy setting, it is one of the best looking games I have played.

Gameplay wasn't quite as good, again a game with 1-2 enemies level after level which you quickly sick of. Games need to have a few different kinds of enemies to provide some variety in attack. With the weapons almost all being swords and axes, and likewise for almost all monsters, your method of attack is always the same. Fortunately it still is rather fun jumping and sidestepping around your enemy as you both exchange strikes of the sword.

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