Our Cabalist character, on the other hand, had already gained a few levels on his travels, and a rummage inside our class-specific skillset rewarded me with several offensive spells, the ability to summon a fire elemental and a very handy spell for transforming into a zombie. This skill left us free to wander the zombie-riddled streets in relative safety, Shaun of the Dead-style. What’s more, Simon Pegg fans will be pleased to hear of the subtle inclusion of a cricket bat melee weapon too, perfect for feebly batting away at zombie hordes.
Of course, coming from some of the principal creators of Diablo and Diablo II, it should come as no surprise that this is a pure action-RPG. The option of an FPS-style perspective belies the sort of hardcore stuff on offer here - at no point is Hellgate: London a shooter, and beneath its 3D visuals beats the heart of a true isometric XP-chasing RPG. Discreet green arrows above enemies’ heads dictate whether or not an attack will have a chance of connecting, rather than the pointing abilities of your mouse-hand. Such things are handy when you’re fighting your way to Covent Garden market in search of a radio transmission emanating from a portal leading to hell.
So could Hellgate: London be the RPG of the year? It’s certainly ticking all the right boxes, but in the wake of more RPG-lite titles such as Oblivion, and highly addictive MMOs such as WOW (and perhaps LOTRO and Warhammer Online too), we have to wonder if, despite it’s unpretentious, instant-gratification gameplay, it’ll make as big an impact as it deserves to. One thing’s certain though - we’re looking at a new Diablo.