Somebody needs to tell Cyanide that it’s a little late in the day to be ripping off Diablo II. That seven-year-old action RPG provides the template for Loki: Heroes of Mythology, a derivative hack-and-slash that brings nothing new to the genre. Still, being late for the party is the only major strike against this game. Even though the Diablo formula may seem awfully ho-hum these days–especially in this case, since Titan Quest covered the mythological-heroes shtick over a year ago–good mechanics and great atmosphere make up for the lack of innovation.
Despite the title, Loki has an equal-opportunity philosophy when it comes to ancient mythology. You choose from male or female warrior and mage characters from the Norse, Greek, Egyptian, and Aztec traditions and engage in four different lengthy campaigns that can be played solo or with up to six friends in cooperative mode (although there is no matching server, so it can be tough to hook up with fellow players). Things start off with you playing errand boy for the three principal gods in your pantheon (a lineup that includes heavy hitters such as Athena, Isis, Tyr, Quetzalcoatl, and the like), but then move on to you defending a collection of multicultural divinities that looks like an old United Colors of Benetton ad. The end goal is to defeat the machinations of the evil Egyptian god, Seth, who has defied divine rules and crossed into other mythologies in the standard megalomaniacal bad-guy quest to take over the universe.
As this hook-snouted deity is also apparently a big fan of all things multicultural, you face a hodge-podge of monsters from across the entire mythological spectrum. But each of the four campaigns is based on the character battling beasts from his or her own milieu. So the Greek warrior begins by cutting down hundreds of Amazons, centaurs, and harpies, for instance, while the Norse fighter slaughters beasts of the North like bears and wolves, the Egyptian sorcerer battles desert creatures such as giant scorpions, mummies, and scarab beetles, and the Aztec shaman fights jaguars and giant tarantulas.