It's no wonder people make fun of sci-fi. In the new Xbox 360 adventure, "Too Human," you play as a warrior who constantly has to scavenge the ground for hilariously titled items that fortify your body armor. The funniest:
"Shoulder pads of havoc"; "leggings of the cunning"; a "cap of blight"; a "chest guard of aggression"; "assault plate leggings"; a "discontinuity shroud"; and "willful rigid paultrons of range," whatever that is.
The plot of the very earnest "Too Human" is also accidentally comical. You portray a Norse god-warrior who fires guns and swings swords to save humanity from an evil race of droids. Despite the fact that you are Norwegian, you are not blond.
This game is a sad example of how an action-adventure can have a lot of things going for it, yet stink to the high heavens.
The good stuff: Set designs are beautiful, featuring ornate stone castles, futuristic holographs of computer monitors, and exterior shots of snowcapped mountains. Some camera angles look cool, while others are confusing.
But the underpinning of the whole game, the plot twists, rely on pathetic mentions of "lords" and round tables, and your desire for avenging the killing of your wife. Meanwhile, all the fantasy characters speaketh in tongues of ridiculous umbrage.
The dumb word play: "Death or glory awaits," a narrator intones. And a supposed villain you hunt for is hiding in an "Ice Forest of Fitelspy" or some such craziness.
Seriously, this is all just about 100 percent over-the-top.
But it's not even the laughable "leggings," dialogue and story lines that drown "Too Human." It's the repetitive, absurd game play that squanders what could have been an entertaining 10 hours of Norse nonsense.
That game play is a huge drawback. You use your left thumb stick to move your player around. You use your right thumb stick to swing a sword. This is not only mind numbingly simple, but it becomes super boring very fast.
Even when several dozen droids attack you at once, you swing, swing, swing your blade, or shoot your stupid guns, and droids die, die, die. If you mess up and let them kill you, you merely get resurrected on the spot and keep slicing and shooting.
And if you play online, you can only play cooperative mode, where you and another online gamer battle the droids together. That's no fun. You should be able to play against other gamers in online face offs.
It's tempting to dismiss "Too Human" as another game that was doomed from the start. Game designers planned to create it way back in 1999. But the "Too Human" project got bounced around different companies until it finally landed with this thud.
There have even been lawsuits filed between various game-making companies, because one company wanted to use another company's game play engine, then there was a claim of breach-of-contract, followed by a countersuit, blah blah blah.
Looking back at all this, "Too Human" should have been named "Too Easy" or "Too Dumb." Or it could have come with a laugh track built in, like in a sitcom. Seriously? I'm a Norse god wearing "leggings of the cunning"?
("Too Human" by Microsoft retails for $60 for Xbox 360 -- Plays dull. Looks great. Moderately easy. Rated "T" for blood, language, mild suggestive themes, violence. One star out of four.)
Contact Doug Elfman at 702-383-0391 or e-mail him at delfman@reviewjournal. com. He also blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.