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Hellgate Overview

Hellgate: London (developed by Flagship Studios) recently found its way back from the fiery pits to grace us in the form of Hellgate (published by HanbitSoft, Inc).  Originally released in 2007, Hellgate: London ceased to be about 16 months later.  Like a phoenix, however, the game is once more available in a free-to-play model.  Unlike the legendary firebird, it’s about as bright as a dying candle.  Hellgate’s classes are paired up into three main archetypes, or Factions as they are referred to in game. Players need to choose one of these classes for their role playing character before they can start playing the game. The factions are split as follows;

Templars are of an order of divine warriors who wish to preserve humanity and smite the Great Dark that has fallen upon the world. Their two classes are Guardians and Blademasters.

Cabalists are seekers of knowledge who want to control the fate of mankind by studying the Great Dark and using their powers. Their classes are Summoners and Evokers.

Hunters are highly trained ex-military operatives who have been through almost every warlike scenario imaginable. Marksmen and Engineers are their classes.

Hellgate Screenshots

Hellgate Featured Video

Full Review

Hellgate Review

By Jaime Skelton

Hellgate: London (developed by Flagship Studios) recently found its way back from the fiery pits to grace us in the form of Hellgate (published by HanbitSoft, Inc).  Originally released in 2007, Hellgate: London ceased to be about 16 months later.  Like a phoenix, however, the game is once more available in a free-to-play model.  Unlike the legendary firebird, it’s about as bright as a dying candle.

Getting In is the Easy Part

Character creation is standard fare for an MMO.  You decide on gender, and tweak the appearance to your liking.  You also have your choice of six classes: Guardian, Blademaster, Evoker, Summoner, Marksman, and Engineer.  The game allows a decent amount of customization, while also remaining fairly simple.

Once you’ve created your character and enter the game, you’re sent into a fairly in-depth tutorial.  The  tutorial offers rewards for completion, namely a title and an achievement, so it’s worth going through.  Missing, however, is the continuation of the story introduced in the opening cinematic.  Instead, you’re thrown into a drab, burnt cityscape and progress to the end.  The tutorial also lacks a look into other key functions the game offers, such as crafting, that would help new players acclimate to the game.

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Stemming the Tides

Controls are typical of most MMORPGs – WASD for movement, for example – while the mouse buttons are used for your auto attacks.  The controls tend to be unresponsive and laggy on many different actions, though: for example, attacking an enemy can result in the monster dying before it reaches melee, or the monster not being damaged at all.

Another problem is the user interface itself. While the main screen is relatively clutter-free, additional windows become hard to utilize. Menus are still designed with their single-player functionality from the first incarnation of Hellgate. This means that the menus cover your entire screen while the game continues, despite the fact that these menus were designed to pause the game because of their obtrusiveness.  This menu system does not work as well in an MMO, and leads to clutter and unnecessary difficulty.

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Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

Hellgate is made up of several quest hubs, which send you through gates to various locations.  Most of the questing is simple fetch or kill tasks, which deviates very little throughout the game.  On the positive side is the boss system, which summons a stronger “boss” monster when you’ve defeated enough of the weaker foes.  These monsters drop one to several pieces of equipment as well as crafting supplies most of the time, and provide a fair challenge after slaughtering their minions. Monsters also rarely drop special items which, when collected in certain quantities, unlock the portal to world bosses which grant more of a challenge and better rewards.

Some quests are also repeatable, usually ones with multiple rewards so you can collect them all.  This works in theory; however, splitting between old and new quest hubs becomes jarring and unexciting.   Many quests are also disjointed; objectives send you back and forth between previous areas and new areas instead of streamlining you from point to point.

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Vanquish the Wicked

Combat in Hellgate is fairly hit and miss.  Holding the left or right mouse button triggers your auto attack.  The number keys control the use of any skills your character has learned.  Combat degenerates quickly into auto-attacking lesser foes and using all your skills to defeat boss monsters.  Many of these bosses have resistances, weaknesses and abilities of their own.  The game does not explain, however, many of the symbols used to describe these strengths and weaknesses.  This may cause some difficulty spikes at unexpected times, as boss monsters are randomly determined.

Gearing for the Apocalypse

One nice thing about Hellgate is the equipment.  Each piece of gear you obtain shows up on your character, with the exception of jewelry.  Equipment is class-based, and pieces go well together visually.  This allows another level of customization for your character.  Any equipment you don’t need can be dismantled for material, used in crafting and upgrading.

Crafting is done by the use of patterns, occasionally dropped by monsters.  It is as simple as gathering the materials necessary and using the pattern from your inventory. Because patterns are randomly dropped, you can’t guarantee you’ll find a pattern for equipment you can use – but you can trade both patterns and crafted equipment with other players to compensate.

Upgrading increases the strength of the items you currently have, within certain thresholds.  This system is typical of many other free-to-play games, with a chance of failure.  In the case of success, the item’s attributes increase.  If it fails, you lose the materials it required, but not the item itself, allowing you to try again with additional material.

Both systems are intuitive and user-friendly, and both are very useful to utilize in order to strengthen your character.  They do require a lot of grinding, though, as regular playing will only yield a couple of upgrades here and there.  Bosses, however, drop many pieces of equipment that can be dismantled, which help facilitate this system greatly.

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I Feel … Stronger

Leveling in Hellgate gives you a few options.  First, you assign stat points to your four attributes – Accuracy, Strength, Stamina, and Willpower.  Accuracy increases your critical strike damage, and reduces spread on guns.  Strength increases melee damage as well as letting you wear heavier armor.  Stamina increases health.  Willpower adds to your power and increases your power regeneration. Each of these base stats has a “feed” bar, while each piece of equipment uses a certain amount of these feed bars. This means that if you don’t have enough Strength to equip a sword, for example, it’s possible to drop some armor that uses Strength in order to equip the sword, or you may just want to start raising your strength stat to use more strength equipment.

There are also three skill trees per class.  You get a skill point every level that you can invest to learn skills and upgrade them.  In typical fashion, skills come in both active and passive varieties, and the skills you select greatly influences how the character will play. Character level also gates certain skills, so you can’t simply power up one skill right away, forcing a player to make some additional choices rather than maximizing choice skills.

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Final Verdict: Fair

Hellgate suffers from some major problems. While the game was originally in English, the US/EU release uses a translation of a translation of that original design.  This creates a low-budget “Engrish” feel to the game that existed early in the free-to-play MMO world. Constant server latency and a clunky battle system bring forth their own frustrations.  A user interface that is designed for a single player experience limits the enjoyment of the game further.  The game feels very dated and stuck in the year it shut down.

There are some positive aspects, mostly the ease of the crafting system and providing purpose to “trash” mobs.  Overall, however, Hellgate needs a lot of attention to make it more than a simple rehash of Hellgate: London.


Hellgate Videos

Hellgate Official Trailer


Hellgate First Impressions



Hellgate Links

Hellgate Official Site

System Requirements

Hellgate System Requirements

Minimum Requirements:
OS: Windows XP / Vista / 2000
CPU: 1.6 GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent AMD processor
RAM: 512MB Free
HDD: 3.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce MX or equivalent

Recommended Specifications:
OS: Windows XP / Vista / 2000
CPU: 2.0 GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent AMD processor
RAM: 1GB Free
HDD: 3.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce TI or Radeon 9200

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