By Shamus Posted Wednesday Jun 25, 2008

Filed under: Game Reviews 50 comments

I uninstalled HGL without reaching the end, but a reader sent in this end-game spoiler:

[…]After smashing the final boss and covering London in a thigh-deep layer of demonic corpses, Murmur (from the game’s beginning) shows up, reveals himself as a demon, laughs at you for clearing his path to the top, and then effortlessly tosses you aside. Nothing you can do about it. In short, after everything you did, humanity still loses – which is infuriating after what you went through to get there in the first place.

Wow. Glad I didn’t stick with it. That is unbelievably inept. Imagine if The Fellowship of the Ring finally defeated Sauron, and then Barliman Butterbur the innkeeper showed up and revealed himself to be a demon, and then assumed control of Barad-dà»r. The writer treated the whole story like a childish joke, but then turned serious at the end and aimed for some half-assed tragedy, thwarting all of the player’s efforts in the process. Shameful.

My opinion of the game continues to decline, even now when I no longer have any direct contact with it. Part of this is my exposure to World of Warcraft. The games have a common lineage, although playing WoW creates a brutal contrast that makes Hellgate cower and slink away in shame. This game – this spurting geyser of suck – is the product of the Diablo II team? I can only assume that in their hasty exodus from Blizzard one of them must have dropped the Magic Talisman of Making Awesome Games. Because that thing is still there, and its potent magics have evidently been put to use.

The exiles have executed the John Romero maneuver: They left their former employer full of bluster, and then failed to live up to their perceived potential, much less their own hype. Hellgate London is to Diablo II what Daikatana is to Quake. Which is an awful thing to have to say.

Dear Flagship: Assuming your paymasters at EA are up for it, you guys still have a chance to put out one more game before people give up on you. Show us you’re not a team of Romeros. Make me eat these words.


From The Archives:

50 thoughts on “Hellgate:London:

  1. xdahnx says:


    I never thought I would see the transition between WoW-Wary, and WoW-Proud take place so quickly.

  2. GAZZA says:

    Give him a few more days and see if he proceeds to WoW-Bored. :)

  3. Give him until he is 70, then give him about a month after that. He will then wish and dream of his good ol reliable RPGs and realize that WoW is slowly killing them.

    It’s been a while since something with the ability to absorb you into the game like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape Torment has come along.

    Of course I have bias, I have played wow since Beta. I guess you can say I have been there and done that. I have played a few other MMORPG’s and in my opinion think they need to leave the RPG part of it out.

    I agree with you though Shamus, it’s sad that they associated a crappy game like HGL with the Diablo lineage. It truley is a dark day for old school RPG’ers because of things like Gygax passing along, D&D becoming version 4.0, WoW killing PC gaming and other various things.

  4. mithmurr says:

    Wow, I’m glad I didn’t play it beyond the demo. The ending doesn’t surprise me really. Look at the ending of the first Diablo, and the cutscene storyline of Diablo II. This might be one of the reasons I don’t seem to have the heart to actually pick up any game beyond the demos these days.

  5. Sven says:

    I was also going to point out the ending to Diablo I. After you finally beat the Big Bad Dude at the end (which was a legitimate challenge if I recall correctly), you just end up jamming his soul into your head and wandering off – just like Diablo himself planned it.

    I don’t know why, but I didn’t view that as anticlimactic in any way – in fact it made me look forward to Diablo II even more – but when you describe the ending to Hellgate: London I do get a sense of let down. I get the feeling they were trying to replicate their earlier success, but focusing on all the wrong elements and then trying too hard on top of that.

  6. Sarah says:

    I’ll be honest with you, I actually want to play with Shamus in-game.

    *dangles her lvl 70 hunter bodyguard enticingly*

    Or I could, y’know…use a level-appropriate character. As if.

    Yes, well, Diablo hasn’t been the shining gem of gaming recently. However, you might try painkiller, which is supposedly the “spiritual successor” to Diablo, like an adopted son which is loved more than the real son.

    I’ve also heard that this game is so awesome, “It could only be more awesome if it had tits and were on fire.”

    Apparently you just kill things in it, a lot. And not much else.

  7. Jeff says:

    Shamus may have moved onto WoW, but now he’s got me stuck with Guild Wars. Now I have all the expansions – that’s over a hundred bucks! Curse you Shamus!

    You ought to get advertising revenue for things like this…

  8. journeyman says:

    Oh dear. I think I can say that that is one of the worst endings I have ever seen in a videogame. That’s just terrible.

  9. Dirty Dan says:

    Does it disturb anybody else that people (e.g. Mr. Wendlandt, #3 above) now express a person’s character’s level in an MMO as if it were their age? “Just wait til he’s 70…”, “Back when I was in my teens…” It keeps throwing me off for a second every time I see it. Bloody MMOspeak.

  10. David V.S. says:

    Hee hee.

    The plot of Guild Wars (Prophecies) leaves a few questions unanswered. At least back in the days when I played it, a common humorous meme was to attribute everything to Gwen. Did this minor character secretly almost destroy the world?

    Here is a link with some notable serious discussion of the unanswered questions, and also some delightful Gwen meme. Enjoy!

  11. JFargo says:

    Wow. Amazing ending.

    If the game had taken itself seriously, that ending might actually work. Well, if the guy who ends up being the big bad had actually, I don’t know, been important. Sounds to me as though that ending was created because they wanted a reason for Hellgate 2: Hell Harder.

  12. Joe Cool says:

    I haven’t played HGL, but I do know about Blizzard (my wife works there). From what I’ve been told, Blizzard North was closed and integrated with the main Blizzard offices because Blizz North lacked focus. They were constantly behind schedule and were something of a money sponge, so Blizzard reined them in to be able to exercise a little more control over their operations.

    Anyways, what this has to do with HGL: while the team may have had a lot of raw talent, it’s possible that without any strong leadership, they were not focused enough to deliver a winning product. They may be capable of creating a good product like Diablo, but it’s possible they also need guidance to do so.

    But anyways, I guess all we can do is wait for Diablo III.

  13. Dannerman says:

    Jeff – I feel your pain, man. Serves me right for being sucked in, I suppose…

  14. Solka says:

    Actually, it would have been better if the traitorous character had helped you and followed you on your journey, like. Imagine if, at the end of D2, it is revealled that Cain is in fact one of Hell’s Major Demon that wanted to keep watch on Diablo. That is why he knows soooo much about everything, and.. tells you what to do to clear the path for him as Overlord of Hell.

    Now, that would have been a helluva plot twist.. But a relevant one. Having the small witch at the start of D2 turning into a demon.. that would have been simply cheap.

  15. Kevin says:

    Kinda makes you wonder who’s idea them leaving Blizzard was in the first place.

  16. ngthagg says:

    I had picked up somewhere that Murmur was really a powerful demon. It seemed really cool at the time, since the opening scene (where a bunch of elite templars had been wiped out, and the only guy still alive is Murmur) makes a lot more sense.

    But that would only have been cool if he was really the final boss, and if he played a bit more of a role.

    Dirty Dan: Try playing on a role playing server, where role players try to put together groups based on level, but don’t let themselves actually say the word “level”.

    “Forsooth! I seek a companion, one who has seen twenty-five winters, who is well versed in the arts of healing.”


  17. Cineris says:

    @Sven: That’s a good point about Diablo’s ending. I think the difference is, by the time you reach the end of Diablo it’s already been made known to you that Diablo entered the world by having his soul crystal to possess the soul of the king’s son (IIRC). So it’s not a surprise that it happens again.

    It’s also telegraphed in the lore about the Horadrim that one of the Horadrim voluntarily had himself chained up underground with a soulstone lodged in him so that he could struggle with one of the prime evils for all eternity.

    So knowing that your powerful character who has banished Diablo back into his soulstone might make the same sort of sacrifice isn’t entirely unexpected, or entirely bad. I mean, Diablo I doesn’t say that your character ends up turning evil, it just shows him taking the necessary steps to control the evil. No one else is powerful enough to even have a chance.


    Diablo 2 does have a similar plot twist, if you play through the expansion pack.

  18. Sitte says:

    Wow! JFargo, you’ve made my day.

    Shamus and Ferrett are the only 2 guys that I read daily, and I never expected to see any crossover.

    I’m so glad I never picked up HGL. I would have, except the only reason I knew it existed was that I got back into D2 during the winter HARD, building a lvl 96 necro plus a couple of 70/80 guys over a month or so. I read about it at diabloii.net, and was intrigued, but since I had to force myself to uninstall D2 to get my life back, I was not about to spend money on a game that I assumed would suck me in even deeper than D2.

    I am sad about D2 account deletion. I really wish Blizzard didn’t delete accounts after such a short time away (what is it…three months?) The idea of playing D2 again sounds fun, but I couldn’t just fire it up and play a session with my guys…I’d have to waste all of that time building them up. Not to mention having to re-get an Enigma, Annihilus, and Torch

  19. lplimac says:

    Theoretically, when you are thrown through the portal you go to the next location that has a Hellgate. This is why the game is named Hellgate:London- there’re gates in multiple cities that need to be closed, this is just the first. The original plan that I heard was that they were going to explore various mythos: Western, Asian, African and so on, with gates located in different cities and continents, allowing local color and cultures. Of course this will only happen if they get funded for the next game in the series, and the one after that…

    Speaking of Mythos that is another game that Flagship is producing that’s in beta and, at least to me, is more of a D3 style game than Hellgate is.

  20. Viktor says:

    Am I the only one who, upon seeing Shamus’ Fellowship reference, thought “I could really see Casey pulling something like that”?

  21. Yamael says:

    I’ll play devil’s advocate for a second on this matter, since I didn’t find that surprise at the end of the game so bad as you’re putting it… Or rather, it was the ONLY part of the whole story of the game that I enjoyed.

    His role is minor through the game, and the fact that he doesn’t have any mechanical function (like the free identifications that Deckard Cain gave you in Diablo 2) means that many players won’t bother talking with him twice, but Murmur is the one character that follows you through the whole game. He is in every station, and talking to him gives you some background info on the current situation. You can also “talk” with him using your questlog to get some info on the quests you are on. While most of those are a generic description of the objectives, he does talk a bit more for the main story quests. Near the end of the game, he sacrifices himself (or appears to) to buy you time to escape from a demon, so his revelation that he is in fact one of them after you beat the last boss was both surprising and enjoyable.

    Of course this does little to balance a long story that doesn’t take itself seriously and the many concept failures of the game, but it is something.

  22. Rick says:

    David V.S.: Most of the unanswered questions of Guild Wars Prophecies were answered in Nightfall.

    (Basically, Abaddon, the bad guy of Nightfall, was behind the whole thing; the Titans work for him, and gave the Charr the magic to cause the Searing. The Cataclysm of Orr was instigated by another of his servants.)

    Gwen shows up in Eye of the North, a member of the Ebon Vanguard (an Ascalonian organization fighting behind the lines), and a mesmer hero. The Bonus Mission Pack tells more of what happened to her after the Searing.

  23. Cineris says:


    Not cool with the spoilers, IMO.

  24. Rick says:

    Eep. Sorry.

  25. Shamus says:

    I added spoiler tags to Rick’s post.

    I REALLY wish WordPress would let visitors add other HTML to comments. I could set up something rarely used (like underline) to act like a spoiler tag. Then people could set up their own tags.

    Hmmmm. I’ll bet there’s a way to do this.

  26. Rick says:

    Thanks, Shamus. Sorry again.

  27. Jeff says:

    The final expansion also adds a point to Gwen giving you the tapestry bit for liking you second bestest, next to her mommy. Keep a hold of it!… assuming you play again.

    …I haven’t uninstalled Hellgate though, in case I feel the urge to run around throwing grenades everywhere.

  28. Namfoodle says:

    @ Dirty Dan:
    Color me disturbed. Until your post, I totaly thought that Justin was talking about Shamus’s age!

    I was thinking, “WTF? Why would I want to wait more than 30 years for Shamus to hit 70?”

    I’m 40 and I have some friends from High School who I still keep in touch with. But one lives in Seattle and the other is in Florida. They’ve been hanging out together in WoW, and they’re trying to hook me in.

    My wife has forbidden it.

  29. Joshua says:

    “The plot of Guild Wars (Prophecies) leaves a few questions unanswered. At least back in the days when I played it, a common humorous meme was to attribute everything to Gwen. Did this minor character secretly almost destroy the world?”

    The plotline of LOTRO has a character like this. This most innocuous, and little-explained character seems to have a role in a few of the quests, but usually not in a big way. Turns out much later that you find they’re manipulating things behind the scenes the entire time. I guess it’s good that it happens late in the game, but not at the END of the game for the final plot twist.

  30. Vertrick says:

    I think HGL demonstrates that writers in one field are not necessarily skilled for writing in a different field. HGL’s story was, as I understand it, primarily crafted by Ivan Sulic, who used to be a video game editor (IGN, Ziff-Davis).

    During beta, I think 2 weeks before the game was set to ship, Ivan was running around yanking out voice acting because beta players were complaining that it was “too over the top”. If you think the store owners are funny now, you should have heard them in beta – the one would make lewd comments and hit on you constantly.

  31. MikeSSJ says:

    Whoah – that is one seriously screwed up ending. Glad I never even HAD any interest in playing Hellgate >_>

    What IS it with all these horrible ending these days? Fahrenheit. Jericho. Neverwinter Nights 2. Fable. Obscure.

    It seems like more than two-thirds of the games I pick up these days have horrible and/or rushed endings with no or little conclusion.

    Even otherwise well-written games like Still Life do this to some extent – here we have a murder-mystery spanning across two different time-frames, and in the end, the case is solved, but NO ONE ever tells us who the murderer under the mask actually was >_< Argh - I think I'll stick to strategy games for a while...

  32. Anyone have a link to where I can read the whole plot of HG:L.

    Murmer is with you the entire game, BTW. He is constantly available, provides an interesting help function on every quest, is in every station, constantly there with you.

    His end position only makes sense.

    Though dang, it is a rip to realize that you were a stalking horse for a demon the whole time.

  33. Miral says:


    You can configure WordPress to allow any tags you like in comments — the tag “whitelist” is controlled by one of the JavaScript files (I think; I’m away from my WP install right now so I can’t tell you which one, but do a grep for something unusual like “acronym” or “cite” and you should find it. It might be a PHP file, come to think of it).

    With the aid of a plugin (to convert the rendering, typically by changing it into a div/span with an appropriate style class) you can also add your own custom tags.

  34. Aelyn says:

    I tend to agree with Cineris on Diablo’s ending. When the hero lodged the gem in his forehead, I did not see it as the demon winning. Rather, I saw it as my character taking the duty of battling that evil in his own body as long as he possibly could. I saw a selfless, heroic act that had no other outcome than tragedy, but still the best hope. Excellent ending.

  35. Richard says:

    I’ve been meaning to play Diablo… I’ll probably still play even though the ending as been spoiled *cries*.

    It’s rare that I actually finish a game at all…

  36. Kylroy says:

    To be fair, Flagship were not remotely as blustery and insufferable as Romero after forming their own studio. They merely promised a really good game, not something revolutionary.

    And what did them in was less wholesale stupidity than rushed delivery. Hellgate wasn’t released in South Korea until several months later (i.e. when it was actually a finished product), and I hear it’s been doing really well there.

  37. Enas Yorl says:


    You’re Diablo II characters are likely still there. Or at least some of them. I let my characters lapse for several months and when I checked on them a couple days ago they were in “expired” status but I was still able to revive all but one of them.

  38. SimeSublime says:

    I would just like to back Yamael here. As much as I hated the game (and I loath it nearly beyond reason), the ending was the one part that was actually decent(if predictable). Murmer followed you around the entire game(though there was never a good reason as to why he did it)giving advice. He was actually the *only* plot development present. Him being a demon manipulating you (and before that, many other failed heroes of long dead races)was the sole good part of the game.

  39. NobleBear says:

    That is a massive cheat, it’s not like Shadow of the Colossus where the hero then gets to do one last boss fight to set matters to rights and accomplishes his primary goal although at a personal cost; one was tragic, the other just rips you off. I’m also reminded how put off I felt after finishing Zone of Enders.

  40. Eric says:

    the game sucks. If i wanna play a diablo game I’ll stick to diablo II exp.

  41. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    So, Shamus, since no one else has actually mentioned it: what exactly are the mechanics behind a “spurting geyser of suck”? I mean, the carnal part of my brain (the bit that takes up the front half two-thirds lots) had some opinions, but in honour of the higher calibre of visitors to this site, I quashed those outbursts.
    This makes me wonder how the term “suck” has come to mean what it currently does. Interesting.

  42. ArchU says:

    That’s a fitting ending for a bad game. If I had accidentally bought a copy and experienced such disgraceful antics I would, with Holy Flames of The Gaming Righteous, purge it from my collection.

  43. J1nxter says:

    The worst part of the ending is that after Murmur tosses you into the portal, the cutscene ends and you are still on the site of the last boss battle o.O They needed to do this so you can get the loot from the boss, and you then have to WALK through the portal that murmur supposedly tossed you through. This ending made me cancel my subscription and i havent played the game since

  44. Derek K says:

    Re: No good RPGs:

    Knights of the Old Republic I and II (More so I), and Mass Effect all do a damn fine job.

  45. Corylea says:

    Re: No good RPG’s:

    You’ve gotta play The Witcher. I’ve played Diablo, Baldur’s Gate, Might and Magic, Neverwinter Nights, and so on and so forth, forever and a day.

    And The Witcher is the best RPG I’ve ever played. It has an interesting and complex story, there are important moral choices to be made, the main character looks amazing during combat — I’d swear it was ballet or gymnastics he’s doing. This is an RPG for grown-ups, and it shows.

  46. Matthew says:

    There is a new interview with Max Schaefer (co-founder of Flagship Studios) talking about some of the issues they had with HellGate and how they will be taking their time with “Mythos” the new game. Looks like there going back to their roots.


  47. Felblood says:

    To Sarah in #6:

    Whoever told you that hasn’t got to the swamp monster boss yet.

    The goal in Painkiller is to slaughter your way through armies of demons and assassinate their leading generals. The levels themselves are linear, but fun; the boss fights are not.

    Hell’s Generals are really powerful and visually impressive, but they take hours to kill and are no fun at all and they can kill you in just a few shots. Many of them have attacks that require precision timing and skill to evade.

    Every few hours of killing things, you have to stop and spend a few hours solving a puzzle nobody cares about, while dodging guided missiles made from fireflies. Making a mistake sends you back to the beginning of the boss fight.

    It was a really great game, better than many a good game, right up until a boss showed up, and then it took days worth of your precious free time to kill the buggy bugger and get back to the killing. Your time is better spent playing an inferior shooter which does not feature these creatures.

  48. Z!re says:

    Link spam because copy pasting is just no fun:

    It’s very H:L related, and fits well with the title of this blog entry ;)

  49. I think 1 of your ads caused my internet browser to resize, you probably need to put that in your blacklist. Hellgate:London:Ending – Twenty Sided is a cool name for a blog BTW ;)

  50. Dreadjaws says:

    Coming from the future… they didn’t prove you wrong.

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