Quick Review - Titan Quest Immortal Throne

Last year's Titan Quest received many favorable comparisons to Diablo II and rightly so. With the title's emphasis on loads of enemies, loads of loot and loads of click-happy combat, Titan Quest was an excellent modern take on the format popularized by Blizzard's action RPG. Now the team at Iron Lore has graced us with an enjoyable expansion pack that adds tons of content and smoothes out some of the original. It still won't win over anyone who isn't a fan of the basic design but it's a great expansion for fans of the original.

Though we can hardly claim that Titan Quest was too short, Immortal Throne adds a rather sizeable chapter to the game. After the end of the original game, players will find the doorways to Hades open to them. There are several new large areas here, each of which is full of interesting quests and terrifying monsters. While many of the areas are basically dark caves, there are some bright spots here and there, particularly in Elysium, and some truly memorable vistas.

One of the coolest new additions is the new Dream mastery skill set. This is a very versatile set of skills that permits players to dish out lots of damage to groups of enemies. The Psionic attack is a great boost to your basic weapon attacks and the Distortion power is an awesome ranged attack that can hit multiple enemies at once. Teleportation powers add lots of mobility options and a range of new trance effects act as running buffs that can hurt your enemies and heal you.

The Dream master also gains access to a flying eye pet called the Nightmare that can be used in combat and can also boost the effectiveness of your other pets. (Some new pet targeting commands and stances for your pets give you additional control over large groups of pets.) Even better, the new skills come with plenty of great visuals: loads of smoky purple energy effects and flying crystals.

To balance out the increased challenge of the monsters and bosses you'll meet, there are a handful of new items that you can use. There's a new equipment slot on your character sheet that you can use to equip artifacts. These artifacts are immensely powerful items that you'll have to build yourself. You'll find recipes to make these items throughout the game. Each requires a number of completed charms to fabricate. Fortunately, there are now enchanters in many of the towns that allow you to pay to reclaim charms that you've installed on your items.

There are also a number of one-time use scrolls that basically act as super powers for the boss fights. Some are simple bombs that you can drop on enemies; others take the form of massive monsters that you can summon to fight for you for a short time. Though you'll find these scrolls and artifact recipes as loot from destroyed monsters, there are a number you can buy from the vendors in the towns.

The original game suffered quite a bit from poor inventory management. Characters frequently became burdened by the vast number of items picked up on the battlefield. This time around, you can turn off automatic item pick up. Pressing different keys allow you to see items filtered based on whether they're broken or magical. It adds an extra step to looting, but it sure cuts down on the trips back to the merchant to sell a sword for 3 gold.

Additionally, there are some cool inventory management options. The basic character inventory has an auto sort option so you can make more room for your loot as you make your way through the levels. There are now also caravans in most of the towns that act as safe deposit boxes for items you want to keep but aren't ready to use yet. Any item you place in a caravan will be available at any caravan throughout the game. What's even cooler is that you can transfer items from one of your characters to another through these caravans so, if you find an item that doesn't suit one of your characters but works for another you can switch them freely.

There are some minor multiplayer improvements in the game, mostly designed to make it easier to join games. There's still no fix unfortunately for the client side hacking that plagues many of the matches.