The release of the original Rune was a welcomed addition to the library of titles available to Mac gamers. This action adventure game was steeped in Viking myth and lore with gameplay that combined puzzle solving, combat and exploration. A truly immersive experience was created for players thanks to Rune’s 3rd person perspective and beautiful 3D images that were powered by the Unreal Tournament graphics engine. Fans soon demanded a follow-up to the game and from that request, Rune: Halls of Valhalla (HOV) was born.
Halls of Valhalla is an expansion to Rune that can also be played as a separate game for players who do not own the original game. HOV’s graphics continue to impress and the title’s new multiplayer modes provide for interesting gameplay variations. Regrettably, focusing on LAN and Internet multiplayer action limits the game’s appeal to narrow range of Mac game players.
Graphical Goodness & Multiplayer MadnessPlayers unfamiliar with Rune should take a moment to familiarize themselves with the game by reading our review of the original game. The review of Rune: Halls of Valhalla is not intended to contradict the original and is only an examination of the expansion pack.
HOV adds over 30 new maps that can be used in the original game’s multiplayer modes as well as the new game variations present in this multiplayer expansion. These maps are quite gorgeous, even though the Unreal Tournament graphics engine on which they are built has been in use for a few years. Halls of Valhalla also includes new 3D character models, which only add to the game’s impressive presentation.
The true heart of HOV is the addition of two multiplayer game types: Arena and Headball. These new modes of play join the traditional deathmatch (called RuneMatch) and Team Game, which is also deathmatch-style. In Arena, one player faces off against another in single combat until there is one Viking left standing. Any other players not currently engaged in combat can practice their moves with other combatants in a virtual staging area. The 3rd person one-on-one combat is fast and can be disorienting at times. Some 3D shooter fans (myself included) will likely find it difficult to adjust to this style of play, but it is well executed nonetheless.
Headball is the second of the two new multiplayer game variants. Think of it as a combination of the 80s Extreme Sports television show “American Gladiators” with the “Highlander” TV and Film franchise. In Headball, players are in competition with up to four teams. The goal is to behead a player on an opposing team and then take that severed head and toss it into a goal in order to score points. In keeping with the sports theme, the Headball maps are typically designed more like a skateboard parks rather than deathmatch arenas. This means that there are an inordinate amount of places to jump, climb and generally explore in the 3D space.
There is also new music along with the added maps and game types. The music is well composed and adds to the grand atmosphere of the game. Rune: Halls of Valhalla runs quite well in Mac OS 9 and it takes advantage of Apple’s former 3D API of choice, RAVE. Enterprising gamers can run the game using OpenGL acceleration. There are very few perceptible differences between RAVE and OpenGL in the case of HOV, but your mileage may vary. The game does not run natively under Mac OS X, however, it did run surprisingly well in the Classic environment.