Too Human is a trainwreck.

I'm not referring to the fact that it's been in development for almost a decade, or that developer Silicon Knights is currently suing Gears of War creator Epic Games over a tiff about the game's engine. I'm not even referring to creator Denis Dyack's reaction to early negative reviews, in which he alternately said that players don't "get it" or that the game is "so innovative that we have put some people off." No, even discounting all of that, the game is a mess.

Superficially, the game is a standard action piece, like Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry. Too Human's big distinction is how it handles combat: Instead of asking for reams of button presses, players merely flick the right directional stick to attack. Sound awkward? It is, at least initially. Then you get used to it and realize that while it isn't as bad as it sounds, it often simply doesn't work: You'll flick toward one enemy, and your weapon will go the other direction.

This wouldn't be so bad if the rest of the game was compelling, but instead it rips off the best parts of Blizzard's Diablo games without retaining any of that series' addictive simplicity. Collecting endless reams of weapons is only fun if said weapons are innately radical.

On top of all that, the game is wrapped in enough pretension to make Cicero puke. Melding Norse mythology with technofetishism circa 1995 is exactly as lame as it sounds. It's hard to make a game with an embarrassingly stupid storyline when your competition features Italians stomping on turtles and downing mushrooms, but that's exactly what Silicon Knights has done.

I'd like to hold out hope that Too Human's two planned sequels will be better, but unless they totally dump the storyline and utterly gut the gameplay, I'll stay pessimistic. Drop five bucks to rent Too Human if you're dying of curiosity, but otherwise, save your $60 for something a bit more worthwhile.