For once, one of these tarted up releases of games from yesteryear actually deserves the term “classic.” There are few melee-based third person action games that have ever topped Rune. And, for once, nostalgia, is actually not misplaced.
The basic plot entails you as Ragnar, a mere whelp of Viking warrior, being thrust into a conflict between the Loki and his father, Odin. If you fail, Ragnarok comes about and Loki destroys everything with is evil minions. If you win, he destroys almost everything and you get to party in Valhalla.
To begin the game, you drown after magic sinks your long-boat. You then make your way back through Hell (of course) and hundreds of Loki’s minions. You are armed with larger and larger swords, axes, and hammers. Strewn about the place you find runes that give an extra boost to each weapon.
Along the way, you get to jump about a bit in the wilds of Norseland, swim, and break lots of stuff. To gain health you eat lizards, fruit, meat, and drink copious flagons of ale. None of this drinking beer makes you less healthy (crap from modern games) — you are a Viking after all.
Graphically, the tarting up makes the game look better, but not that much better, than the original (which means it runs on almost anything thankfully). Sound-wise, it is nothing special unless you love grunts, screams, and groans. It is mostly stable, however a few cut-scenes can post a problem later in the game. But since this is not a horrible console port you can save to your heart’s content… above and beyond the auto-saves.
Oh yes and don’t play it on the lowest difficulty setting if you are the slightest bit competent in these sorts of games as it is silly easy. I so hope that if they make a Rune II they do not ruin the visceral fun of this game.
And then we come to multiplayer, which is some of the most fun you can have and not get arrested. As in war, in Viking times your life is nasty, brutish, and short. It is also chaotic, violent, and quick but oh so much fun. For the most bang for your buck, play the arena maps. Even if you are the most incompetent Viking warrior ever, you will have a great smile on your face after beheading you first enemy with a swing of your axe or sword. And unlike the case with a lot of recent multiplayer games, there are plenty of servers to satisfy your yearning for melee violence. I haven’t even experienced any cheating as yet either.
In short, for less than $10 you can have a decent length solo game and hours of multiplayer fun. Oh yes and you haven’t lived until you beaten an enemy to death with someone else’s head.
Rune Classic is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Animated Blood and Gore, Animated Violence.