Before I get started on the fun that can be yours as you hack and slash your way through the halls of the dead, I should mention the land of the living. Those of you who have already fought your way to victory on Mount Olympus may think your mission is complete. Well, you couldn't be more wrong. In fact, Immortal Throne almost demands that you rid Greece of evil all over again!
But why? Why would you want to play levels you have already conquered, kill bad guys with more legs/heads/eyes/teeth than any self-respecting bad guy should have? The answer is that now, unbelievably, it's even better! The improvements that Iron Lore have produced are an answer to every player's prayers. Do you want to try out the new Dream Mastery in the glorious sunshine of Greece? Do you want to try any one of the eight new combinations of bad-guy-beating awesomeness that are yours to command? Well now you can. Why not try becoming a Templar? A combination of the Dream and Defence Masteries. Phantom Strike will get you up close and personal just before you use Colossus to turn yourself into a 20-foot-tall engine of destruction. Believe me, it's a lot of fun. The possibilities for new combinations of skills, pets and abilities are almost endless.
Nearly all of the improvements that have been made are the ones that any sensible gamer would have asked for. New to the world of Titan Quest are the Caravan Drivers, that allow the easy movement of large inventories of items between characters, and Enchanters who can un-enhance your favourite weapon so that you can attach that more powerful upgrade you have been desperate to try out. Mind you, nothing is free, even in ancient Greece...
A real favourite of mine is the inventory sort button, definitely not an ancient Greek invention. This 21st century luxury tidies up your inventory to make treasure gathering even easier than before. Other useful features include undo buttons on all upgrade screens to help you get the most of your experience points, there's also a new experience bar which allows you to see just how close you are to getting that next vital level-up. Less useful but high on the "oh-that's-good-o-meter" are the pretty ocean waves and the footprints that follow you around as well as the gamma slider, for instant atmosphere.
But Immortal Throne is not all about new features. There is a whole new realm for you to rampage through, and rampage you will. Iron Lore have come up trumps with the difficulty level yet again. This is definitely a game for all ability levels rather than a challenge for Olympic-level computer-gaming athletes and although that annoying three-headed pooch is no pushover, there is little chance that you are going to pull your hair out trying to beat him. There is a great deal of satisfaction to be found in launching yourself into the midst of a crowd of enemies and one by one taking them all apart. At the same time, the action very rarely becomes mindless and you will always need to keep a close eye on that hit-point meter.
As you very quickly learn, Greece has been saved above the ground while trouble has been gathering below. All of the classical Greek heroes had to undertake a quest in Hades, the land of the dead, so why should you be different? Although I'm not sure that slaying the ferryman Charon (twice, the second time round he has wings...) on your way in is the best way to ensure you have a way back out...
Most of the enemies you come across will be typically Greek in nature. Zombies, Demons, Skeletons and other undead shambling things that Perseus, (think man with a flying horse) missed when he was down there last.
In terms of atmosphere Immortal Throne is worlds away from Titan Quest. Gone are the fields of corn and bright sunshine; instead, the world you wander is creepy in the extreme. Expect gloomy caves, dingy catacombs and dark crypts. All the better for you to brighten them up with your lightning strikes and fireballs.
As mentioned before, the difficulty is far from taxing but the more professional dungeon explorer is also catered for. The Epic and Legendary levels of difficulty are pretty accurate labels. The mechanics of the game cope with the differences in difficulty very well and more experienced players will be pleasantly surprised when they embark on a Legendary Quest.
While the Immortal Throne may only offer around nine or so hours of new gameplay, those of you with an eye for a challenge may want to start over and play through the whole game, relishing the improvements, new Dream Mastery and enemies which vastly improve the value of this well conceived expansion.
When you are done playing the single-player quest you will perhaps want to venture online with your character. This area has also seen some changes. Players are now able to see the inventories and character screens of other players in their party in addition to their level and class. This can make all the difference in a tough multiplayer game. Best of all, the Multiplayer Lobby has seen a raft of changes. A host of information is now available about the servers you may wish to join, including whether a server allows Player vs. Player combat as well as who is playing on that server. These changes make it much easier to decide which server to join and save you a lot of time.
Immortal Throne is a worthy expansion. Don't expect any big innovations but if you enjoyed Titan Quest then you will love Immortal Throne.