by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
The immortality of Highlander
I guess I can call myself a Highlander fan. At least, I have two somewhat faded Highla-l mailing list t-shirts still in my closet as a proof of my dedication. However, I must still admit that only the first movie with Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod was any good. The sequels were all unwatchable and while the series had some redeeming qualities, it was still only good for die-hard fans of the Highlander universe. To make things even more difficult to a casual viewer, every sequel broke the canon set in the original movie and the series destroyed it completely by being set into an alternate universe.
But if 99% of products bearing the title Highlander are crap by any standard, why do we still keep getting more of them? The answer is pretty simple: the original movie and the concepts and ideas behind it are still very strong. Imagine if there really were such beings amongst humans whose 'Quickening' made them immortal unless you cut off their head and who walked the Earth killing each other and collecting each other's 'Quickening' until only one of them remained? This background, coupled with the powerful tragedy of having to watch your loved ones die while you stayed eternally young, was turned into a great movie in the original Highlander.
And now to the game
Eidos Interactive and WideScreen Games announced Highlander: The Game last year and the fans have been talking about it ever since. Some may be wondering how the main hero in the announced game can be over 2000 years old and still have a Scottish last name, let alone be called a Highlander and why his first name is so un-Scottish. Well, the answer is simple: the developers face the difficult reality that the Highlander movies and series rely on having a Scottish main hero. You cannot just start calling the series Immortals all of a sudden, or you will be losing your fandom. Thus, you have to create more and more Scottish Immortals, preferably with the same last name as the original and claim that they are all somehow related to each other. This is how Connor MacLeod (the original) has been joined by Duncan MacLeod (TV series) and even Quentin MacLeod (animated series).
This time around, the family member to take a closer look at is Owen MacLeod. And, like all the other immortal highlanders, this guy has somehow also earned the nickname “the Highlander” (one has to wonder how many “the” Highlanders there can be). Like all Immortals, he has lived through the centuries, killing other Immortals and taking their power while waiting for the final Gathering which will determine the final victor.
Great villains and magic
Highlander is to be an action game and thus it seems to forget the key to the success of the original movie: the tragedy derived from the short lives of those who are not gifted with immortality. Rather, the story in the game seems to circle around a single theme: Owen MacLeod's battle against another Immortal:
Living in New York, Owen MacLeod finds himself being chased by a mysterious villain whose power is much greater than Owen's. MacLeod decides not to enter into an honourable duel with the villain and instead goes around hunting for the fragments of a mysterious stone. This stone is divided into three parts and it is said that the one Immortal who possesses it will gain unlimited power. Judging from the story, MacLeod seems to hope that he can use the stone to cheat his way into victory.