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As important is the hotkey system Runic has implemented for Torchlight. Skills can be mapped to the left and right triggers and the B and Y buttons, allowing for easy access to a number of combat abilities for each class. While it means that players will have less immediate access to all of their abilities, I did find in my brief time playing that it was easier to juggle several powers at once effectively with the controller than it was with function keys or a scroll wheel.
Interface-wise, Torchlight XBLA still has some ground to make up. At this stage, the menu system works, and, say, adding skill points and ranks to abilities is simple, and identifying items is as easy as hitting the A button. However (and you knew that was lurking in there somewhere) there are quite a few menu pages, which you switch between using the triggers, and sub-pages, which you navigate using the left and right bumpers, and you navigate menu sections using the analog stick. This sounds confusing because it is. I still hadn't gotten my head quite around it by the end of my half hour or so with the game. I imagine it could become workable after more time, but we'll just have to see.
Joystiq joins the fray:
The biggest challenge to bringing the game to consoles was the combat, Runic CEO Max Schaefer told me. "By far, by far. We ended up doing a lot of little things to make that melee combat feel better. You take a little move forward whenever you swing, and there's a cone of influence in front of you that it'll hit into rather than to specifically have something targeted." The combat does feel good -- while the game seems like it would be a dual-stick affair, basic hits have been mapped to the X button, making it much more tactile. Ranged attacks automatically hold you in place while the button is held down, unlike the PC version, which requires an extra toggle.
The combat looks better, too. "We had to do all new attack animations and all new animation blending," explains Schaefer, "just because of the different ways that it felt when you used the controller." Unfortunately, some of the textures in the background could probably have used some cleaning as well, but whether that's better than the PC or not depends on your computer -- a slow computer turned down will absolutely make the game look better on the Xbox, while a high-end rig will make the console version look a little jaggy.
And Pnosker isn't to be left out:
At each level, we had to battle through waves of enemies ranging from tiny gremlins to giant metal monsters. Combat functions excellently thanks in large part to a revamped control scheme. Of course, there is the standard attack, but that can also be combined with one of four powers mapped to individual buttons. The system smooths the PC to console transition and makes combat both deep and intuitive.
However, fighting is only part of the equation, Torchlight wouldn't be worth its salt if it lacked a ton of loot; rest assured though, there are plenty of glittery goodness to be had. Once defeated, nearly every enemy will drop weapons, gold, or some other goodies. The sheer amount of loot allows for impressive character customization, but it is tripped up by a clunky inventory management system.