Get ready for head choppin, blood splattering, bone crushing Viking fun. It's RUNE! A 3rd person based 3D shooter from Human Head Studios. I know what you're thinking, "Another 3D shooter to go with the hundred other ones I already own." While I may agree with this somewhat, at least Rune gives a slightly different feel to the genre. The game is based on the Unreal Tournament engine, and the guys over at human head have really pulled off a beautiful rendition of it. The graphics are top self and the game play is smooth and convincing.

You take on the part of Ragnar, the young and yet unproven Viking warrior. While you may have proven yourself among the some of the townspeople (insert intro plot line), you have yet to see combat. The overall plot in the game is to defend the Runestones and stop the evil god Loki from returning and ruining your day. While the plot may sound interesting (bahahaha), the intro just blows chunks! After about 15 seconds, you really want to hit the ESC key to skip it!

While the game is primarily 3rd person, you can use the game's zoom-in feature (care of the mouse wheel) to change your perspective all the way to 1st person. While this can sometimes be an aid, 3rd person is gonna be the way to go, as you really need to see yourself and your weapons in this type of melee oriented game. There is basically no sneaking around and shooting people with the sniper rifle here, were talking face to face, balls to the wall, action. Your weapons are primarily either a sword, mace, or axe. While this may sound somewhat limited, it actually works out pretty well, as there are various types of each.

Rune also gives you the ability to defend yourself. There are different types of shields in the game, which you can use with one-handed weapons. The right mouse button may be held in to raise your shield and block incoming attack. Big lumbering two-handed weapons force you to drop your shield, and expose your big white Viking backside to the enemy. Another nice touch is the ability to actually see what weapons you currently have on your person, they hang on your characters body. You can have your sword swaying on your back, the mace dangling from your thick Nordic belt, and have the battle-ax at the ready to crush some poor slobs head in.

The enemies in the game look mean enough, however I was hoping for a little more variation. Most of what you battle in the game seems to be the same type of model, with a different skin thrown over it.

The game defiantly focuses on the combat aspect. It borrows from the "Tomb Raider" style puzzles, of throw this lever to open this door. Overall the puzzles mesh with the game play well enough, although I thought they overused the "jumping puzzle" dilemma a bit too much.

As with most shooters, multiplayer will probably be the deciding factor for the life of the game. Rune only gives you two modes of multiplayer madness, deathmatch and team deathmatch. One on One game play is boring due to the nature of the weapons, if you see your opponent, you must run all the way across the level to kill him. If you switch over to a 6 - 10 player deathmatch, get ready for some head flying, blood slinging action. It can be loads of fun to run around lopping heads off in your path. Some of the network coding could use a little tweaking, but there is fun to be had here.

Overall Rune does get a thumbs up from me, I enjoyed this game. While I think it could have used a little something more in the single player, the graphics, combat, and weapons really shine. Now if they just could have improved on some of the sound effects (come on guys, did you just lift them off some shareware CD?). If you think you can take me in a deathmatch, I'll cya online!