Rune: Halls of Valhalla by Human Head Studios

by Gwynhala and LordRinvaran




Human Head Studios


Gathering of Developers



Release Date:




As a follow-up to Rune, the Viking-themed 3rd person melee game, Human Head Studios has released Rune: Halls of Valhalla. The PC version is expected in stores after April 24, 2001 – but you can read all about it today, thanks to the gold master version Mindless Games and Entertainment got hold of!


Rune: The Franchise


Human Head Studios thinks of Rune as a kind of brand name or franchise, meaning that they’re eager to develop – or let others develop – lots of products around the characters and settings of Rune, and get paid for it. Rune: Halls of Valhalla (HoV for short) is no exception. It’s a complete, self-contained product rather than an add-on pack, it builds on the characters and settings of Rune, and the Heads aren’t giving it away – expect to pay about $20 for it in stores.


Other Rune-themed products on the horizon include a Rune pencil-and-paper RPG from Atlas Games (kind of like Ars Magica with broadswords), and an all-new Playstation 2 version of Rune.


What Do I Get For My Money?


The original Rune focused on a single-player story line. Forty-five levels of beautiful single-player play, no coop play, bare-bones multiplayer and team play with questionable net code, six mutators, seven DM maps and a level editor (modified from the buggy UnrealEd version 1).  Version 1.01 unlocked many of the single-player characters for use in multiplayer. Version 1.06 added a better female multiplayer character.


Rune: Halls of Valhalla takes us in a completely different direction. There are no single-player missions (although if you install Rune and HoV in the same folder you can still play Rune’s single-player game). Instead, HoV focuses entirely on multiplayer with:


·         New net code and weapons balance (same as 1.06 patch)

·         Two new deathmatch modes (Arena Match and Head-Ball)

·         All of the DM maps that came with Rune

·         Twenty new DM maps, including three new maps optimized for teamplay

·         Eight new Head-Ball maps

·         Nine new Arena Match maps

·         Sixteen new player models (or skins) including three female models (one is Jun from 1.06 patch), a dwarf, six non-cheating sark models, and at least four non-caucasian models.

·         Entirely self-contained (Rune not required) including the Rune level editor.


The content on the HoV CD is download-protected, meaning that a server will not download HoV maps, skins, or models to a non-HoV client. User-made HoV content is compatible with clients and servers running Rune Version 1.06.


In terms of value, you can look at HoV a couple ways – some of them not very favorable. Let’s spin through just a few.


$20 For A Mod That Should Be Free - Some players will feel this way about HoV. After all, any talented mod team can create new models, new gameplay modes, and new maps for games based on the UT engine. Bigger studios have released comparable game add-ons for free. Most mods and many TCs are free. Many of the new maps in HoV were contest entries that the studio didn’t even develop. The new models were mass-produced, all using the same animations as Ragnar. There are already free Rune mods similar to Arena Match and HeadBall. No new single-player action, so it’s not really a “mission pack”. “What am I paying for, again?”


$60 For The “Whole” Rune – Others will buy HoV, feeling like they’ve paid $60 for Rune ($40 for the original game, plus $20 for HoV to get the multiplayer experience they wanted in the first place). How many games cost $60? Not many – a game with that price tag has to be pretty good. “If the studio put this same package – Rune plus HoV – in stores for $59.95 it probably wouldn’t sell.”


A DM-Only Version of Rune For $20 – This is another way to look at HoV, especially if you don’t like single player gaming and didn’t buy the original version of Rune. Buying HoV instead of Rune, you save some money and get what you want – bloody 3rd person multiplayer action and the level editor. A properly configured server will let you download any of the original Rune maps or models you need, for free. “Cool!”


A Professional Rune Add-On For $20 – This is how Human Head Studios hopes we’ll react to HoV. After all, it’s from the same creative team that brought us Rune, which rocked. “The new game modes, new maps, and new player models are easily worth the price of pizza and beer for two.”


Patches, For Better or For Worse


Since releasing Rune last October, Human Head Studios has put out two free Rune patches in the U.S. (Version 1.01 and Version 1.06) plus an international patch (Version 1.02). These patches have fixed bugs, added some new features, updated the networking code, and also changed weapons balance, character movement, and other important aspects of the game.


The most recent patch, Version 1.06 is very controversial in the Rune community. If you install HoV in the same folder as Rune, the Version 1.06 patch is installed automatically. HoV will not work without this patch. This is an important fact to keep in mind if you prefer the gameplay of Version 1.01 / Version 1.02: those versions of Rune are incompatible with HoV, and clients running one version won’t even connect with servers running the other.


One important change in Version 1.06 is the ability to block or deflect thrown weapons using another weapon or a shield. Generally this is a good change. Some players dislike that a very small weapon or shield can now block a very large thrown weapon.


We’ve had several reports that Version 1.06 causes server crashes every 90 minutes or so. We experienced several HoV server crashes ourselves during playtesting, but couldn’t identify a pattern or the source of the problem.


Arena Match


The first new game mode in Rune: Halls of Valhalla is the Arena Match. Arena Match is a 1-on-1 (or n-on-n, as a server option) deathmatch in which you must wait your turn to fight. Whoever wins the fight stays in the arena and is automatically healed to face another challenger.


This is a pretty good “honor dueling” game mode but it has some rough spots. The main thing that bothers me about Arena Match is that the victor starts each round with exactly the weapons, shield, and weapon selection he had when he entered the arena. If your shield was destroyed in the previous battle, have no fear – you get it back. If you won a Dwarf Battle Hammer from your opponent, it sucks to be you – the hammer disappears from your inventory at the start of the next round.


Arena Match maps typically have three zones, two of which are no-kill zones. I call them the armory zone, the gallery zone, and the arena zone.


You spawn in the no-kill armory zone. Here you can pick up whatever weapons and armor the map-maker decided to put there. On some maps you’ll find unusual weapons cleverly hidden – for example, a statue might be holding something useful. Sometimes the armory zone has sparing areas, target practice areas, and other fun diversions. You can spend as long as you like in the armory zone, but typically there’s nothing to see there, and you can’t get any frags there, so you’ll choose your weapons and move on.


From the armory zone you move into the no-kill gallery zone. This zone is arranged so it has a good view of the arena zone, so you can watch the fights. As soon as you enter the gallery zone, you’re assigned a place in line for your own fight. A number counts down on-screen as battles are won and lost in the arena, and when your number reaches zero you are automatically teleported to the arena zone where the killing happens. If you return to the armory zone, you lose your place in line.


In the arena zone, there is a short countdown to let everyone get ready, and then a fight to the death begins. There’s no need to taunt or salute your opponent before the fight, although some players and hordes will want to continue – indeed, insist on continuing – their traditions along these lines. Not a problem, all I’m saying is that the Arena Match game mode is written to provide basic llama protection, while allowing players to decide what “house rules” they’ll follow. Once you’re in the arena zone, you get to stay until you’re killed (after which you’ll respawn in the armory zone).


Human Head provides nine Arena Match maps with HoV. Here’s a mini-review of each:


AR-Aeternal – Battle in an icy pit surrounded by rune stones as your friends – and Odin himself – look on. This is a pretty map by Jean-Paul LeBreton, with a plain but very playable arena zone and lots of fun musical instruments to play while waiting your turn.


AR-BladePit – A golden portal takes you to a hallway overlooking an octagonal arena with multi-level stones to climb on and jump between. Stay inside the green boundary of the arena, or a spectator may decide you’ve acted dishonorably – and pull the lever that gives this map its name. Ted Halsted and Seth Johnston cooked up this tasty little deathtrap with an opportunity for audience participation.


AR-Cathedral – Welcome to Jean-Paul LeBreton’s church of pain. Pick up your weapons near the fountain graced by a statue of Hel, then walk through the stained-glass wall to enter the sanctuary. Hide in the shadows or behind pillars for the element of surprise, or take the elevators to the overhead beams where you can rain death on your foes from above. Main fault: the dimly lit arena extends well to the sides of the narrow gallery window; that, and all the pillars, make it difficult to watch the battles.


AR-Champions – A spacious asymmetric arena, for basic gladiator-style fighting. The gallery features a clever “head pump” that will dispense Ragnar heads for your throwing pleasure. Dave Halsted added some nice romanesque artwork and a cool full-length mirror in which to admire your big Viking pecs. Main fault: due to the irregular shape of the arena, the gallery doesn’t always have a great view of the action.


AR-SmeltingPot – Here the fighting takes place in the basement of a Dwarven forge, on a series of small stone islands surrounded by molten metal. A deceptively simple map by Dave Halsted; the hazards will make you think twice about your dodging and parrying tactics.


AR-TeamVent – Your team spawns at the shore of a fjord, then enters the well-stocked armory of James Sumwalt’s castle. The gallery offers a fine selection of hand-axes, short swords, and wooden Viking targets to practice throwing at while waiting. The real fun begins in the arena, which is covered with powerful steam vents that boost combatants into the air or from one end of the arena to the other. Feel free to slash at each other Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon style as you fly through the air or make vent-assisted leaps to the side platforms.


AR-Theatre – A classic round greco-roman amphitheater by Rowan Atalla. You can fight on the ground, or climb up into the stands for variety. Nicely done, but feels a little small and once again suffers from a limited view from the gallery.


AR-TimeToVent – James Sumwalt re-used the AR-TeamVent geometry for this map, but all of the powerful weapons are missing from its armory. You find out why when you enter the arena…which features a different Dwarven weapon or other high-damage prize to scramble for in each round.


AR-WidowMakerAack! More of the jumping puzzles I so disliked in Rune. But it’s all a matter of taste: Lord Rinvaran, who helped me playtest HoV, loved this map. The arena is a kind of chessboard, where the squares rise and fall within an acid pit. Miss a jump between squares, and you’ll lose your chance to fight. Ted Halsted added a clever stone hoop in the gallery to practice your aim. The gallery has a great view of the arena – once you figure out how to get up there.


User-Made Arena Match Maps – The copy of HoV we reviewed didn’t include documentation on how to create new Arena Match maps, but if you’re good with RuneEd / UnrealEd you should be able to figure it out by studying the maps included in HoV.




The other new game mode in Rune: Halls of Valhalla is Head-Ball. The object of Head-Ball is to decapitate (or smash to bits) someone on the other team, and throw his or her head into a goal zone before you get killed. Frags don’t count, only goals. There’s no limit on the number of heads that can be “in play” (or, optionally, limbs) at a given time, and the number of points scored per goal can be set by the map-maker. You can score with anyone’s head – even your own from a previous incarnation.


The game starts when one member from each team “logs in” by pulling a team-specific switch. Many Head-Ball maps feature two or more goal zones: a simple goal scoring 1-2 points, and a more difficult goal zone scoring 2-5 points. On some maps, the goal zones are color-coded so you’ll only score if you throw the head into your own team’s goal zone.


Depending on the map, two to four teams can play. We tried Head-Ball with three single-person teams, setting the wining score at 5. This led to some fast and furious action as decapitated players scrambled to respawn and find their killer before he could score. There’s a lot of room for strategy and team cooperation in Head-Ball, since players will sacrifice themselves to defend, or take out, anyone carrying a head.


When you decapitate someone, the message “Head Rush” appears on-screen. Another on-screen message tells how many points you’ve scored for a goal. The audience cheers when you score a goal.


This might be a bug in Head-Ball, or it might be by design. If you take a bloodlust rune and use a Dwarven Battle Hammer to smash someone to pieces, you can pick up the head and score with it (good!) but there is no Head Rush message (bad!).


Another issue (one I’m happy for) is that Head-Ball isn’t particular about where the heads used to score come from. For fun, I turned on cheats and summoned up a small army of Ragnars, then decapitated each and used the heads to run up the score.


The third issue / bug, is that your character prefers picking up a cool weapon to picking up a head. This is OK in all other gameplay modes, but in Head-Ball a head needs to be the most valuable thing you can pick up – your character should prefer it to a Dwarven Battle Sword. Mainly this is an issue when two players are fighting over a head near a shield or weapon; the player that already has that shield or weapon has an unfair advantage picking up the head.


We really enjoy Head-Ball rules just the way they are – no changes needed. One annoyance on some maps, was the location of the team log-in switch (it wasn’t near the spawn point, and we had to go look for it). Another annoyance had to do with weapon choice: on some maps the available weapons (like the Viking broadsword and Sigurd’s axe) were hard to decapitate with. The third minor annoyance was that some maps support only specific team colors (like blue and gold, or blue and red), making it tough to stay on the correct team across map changes.


Human Head provides eight Head-Ball maps with HoV:


HB-Agora – This close-quarters map by Jean-Paul LeBreton is an indoor half-shell keep surrounding a central monolith. The monolith walls have two team-independent goals. There are helpful bloodlust runes on top of both the monolith and the keep. The spawn points allow you to jump down into the thick of the action immediately after being killed, making this a fast-paced and fun map for small (even one person) teams.


HB-Aqueduct – The spawn area is next to troughs of running water that lead to a bloodlust rune. You jump down to the bottom level to log in your team, and fight on the lower and middle level. The central room on the lowest level has food and a color-coded goal for each team. Weapons are in the side chambers. Another map by Jean-Paul LeBreton.


HB-DeCapital – A more spacious Head-Ball map by James Sumwalt with lots of strategy for larger teams. You spawn in a side chamber that has your team’s two goals: a lower goal that scores 1 point, and an upper goal that scores 2 points. To make the 2-point goal you need to either ride a steam jet, or go the long way around and enter an upper gallery you can throw from. Another upper gallery has a switch that lowers a grate over your 2-point goal zone, preventing you from scoring there. Also, the goals are positioned so that if you attempt a 2-point goal using the steam jet and miss, you fall into the 1-point goal zone and die without scoring. The “tightropes” and ambient earthquakes are nice touches.


HB-DragonKeep – Mike Flynn’s map for Red and Blue teams spawns you in a gallery separated from the action by a vast chasm. Jump down, and a tarp springs you across the chasm to a pair of courtyards and a central tower. Each teams’ goals are in one of the courtyards. There are two goals per team: a lower 2 point goal, and an upper 3-point goal. The 3-point goal is difficult to make; you have to jump on tarps just right to end up atop the central tower, then use another tarp to spring across to the goal area. There’s good mead on the table on the near side of the chasm. Lots of tarp-assisted jumping in this good, but not great, level (might be better with big teams).


HB-HelRaiser – A mid-sized, well-designed level by Dave Halsted, for Gold and Blue teams (sheesh, Dave, what were you thinking? Did you go to Madison West or something? School spirit?). The unusual choice of team colors on this map could be annoying when running a listen server (say, as Red team) and switching between maps. There’s a central, team-independent 1-point goal and a team-specific 4-point goal for each team. To get more points, you have to use a goal deep within the other team’s territory, a very difficult throw. All of the goals are high-up, for an added throwing challenge. Watch out for the deadly floor traps near some of the better weapons.


HB-Montezuma – This map supports four teams. Mick Beard gave it a faux-Mayan theme with austere, tapering, obelisk-like goals surrounded by a long narrow courtyard. The team login switches are in the center. Although there’s very limited weapons choice (you spawn with a broadsword; have fun finding anything else) this is a high-scoring map, with a very easy lower 3-point goal and an only slightly more difficult upper 5-point goal.


HB-Montezuma2 – The name of this map might make you think that it’s a minor variation on HB-Montezuma. Not. Ted Halsted’s creation for four teams has a vaguely similar jungle ruins theme with central switches and goals at the ends, but the similarity ends at that. HB-Montezuma2 offers simpler scoring (a single team-independent 3-point goal at each end), a full selection of weapons, and a lot of tarps to bounce around on. The playing area is on multiple levels, and is larger than HB-Montezuma. The two maps in this series complement each other well, and would work well next to each other in server rotation.


HB-Pits – Rowan Atalla’s Head-Ball offering is a mid-sized map with multiple levels for Red and Blue teams. The log-in switches are right at the team spawn point, which is convenient. The goals – both relatively easy – are color-coded. The lower goal scores 1 point and the upper goal 2 points. Nice overall design, wide selection of weapons, and some surprises for the unwary.


Rune Death Match (1.06 Style)


Rune: Halls of Valhalla includes and requires the recently-released Rune version 1.06 patches. These patches change the weapons balance, make some of the rune powers weaker, and also change movement of the player (walking backward and sideways are now as fast as walking forward). I’m not going to review the version 1.06 patch here.


HoV includes all of the DM maps that shipped with the original Rune, plus twenty new DM maps. Many of these maps were contributed by Rune players via Human Head’s mapping contest. The rest were made by the usual suspects at Human Head.


Contest-Winning DM Maps By Rune Fans


DM-Alfheim – Features a 4-level gray stone keep with straight passageways, catwalks and tarps for jumping between levels. Nice ambient sounds give it a Nordic, otherworldly feel – especially fun in Sark skins. By ReMoRsELeSs.


DM-Gates – A nice mix of indoor and outdoor settings, with a snowy exterior under a huge full moon, and a fortress feel inside with wooden plank bridges between platforms placed at casual, realistic angles. A remote switch near the Dwarven Work Sword operates a double crushing trap at the bloodlust rune to discourage camping. One minor gripe – you can crouch / jump into a broken box near the Goblin Axe to set up an ambush, but due to the shape of the opening it’s difficult to get out of the box. Another minor gripe – the ambient cricket loop is a little too audible. Otherwise, a fun map by Heiko Dreyer.


DM-Havlamahl – A brown and green stone fortress rises up from a hidden seaside cove, supported by huge stone timbers and built into the side of a mountain. The caves beneath the fortress are worth investigating. Thoughtful asymmetric floor plan inside makes this feel like a “real” structure. By Eric.


DM-Hudson – Indoor / outdoor map in and atop a pointy-roofed castle adjacent to a deadly river under starry skies. A bridge on one side leads to the Dwarven Work Sword. By Jannis “Dr. Pest” Borgers.


DM-Ingles – A towering island of stone. The broadsword is on a raised platform in the center. High above this at the island’s summit, you can play off-key tunes on a huge horn (and pick up a Dwarven Battle Hammer to crush your foes like the insects they are). This map offers lots of climbing and jumping, and a truly impressive vertical range.  By Hayden “Salvation” Wilkinson.


DM-LostCrypt – Mike “Oriain” Ryan built this map with multi-level catacombs and tombs. Pick up your weapons from the neat wall displays, or from the corpses laid to rest in the walls. A secret passage leads to the bloodlust rune.


DM-Zorn – Very nice architecture and detailing by Paul “TAZ” Mader. A combination indoor / outdoor map with a spacious stone and timber manor house, an underground ice cavern, a bottomless pit, and a secret passage.


New DM Maps from Human Head


DM-Bothvar – A brown stone dungeon with curving hallways and a refreshing lack of symmetry. Mick Beard.


DM-Chaos – It has a kind of space or cloud platform feel with a starry skybox and several mysterious blue lights in the distance. You can easily fall to your death if you miss a jump. A low-gravity zone high and in the center of this map leads to health and bloodlust runes, encouraging a king-of-the-hill type game. Michael Flynn.


DM-DwarfForge – Set in a huge lava-filled cavern criss-crossed by multi-level iron tunnels and gratings. Use the delayed-action elevator to crush your enemies. Don’t fall into the lava! Ted Halsted.


DM-Geothermal – This two-level rectangular stone courtyard is built on a two-level geothermal cavern featuring lava and steam vents to lift you between levels. The Dwarven Work Sword is placed on a platform high and in the center, well exposed but with no serious risk to someone camped there; another map that will see a lot of king-of-the-hill play. By bFrank.


DM-Hel2000 – Dave Halsted’s multi-level creation is hard to describe. It’s built underground, of brown and green stone, with open arena areas, multiple levels, and wide, sloping pathways. The fires of Hel swirl above you. Switches spawn multiple bloodlust runes. Tarps send you from place to place in the map. Two of the tarps send you up and across a lava cavern with a bloodlust rune and broadsword on a raised platform in the middle – you have to jump and move just right while airborne to get them.


DM-Helevator – Indoors, with a central arena, multiple levels, square stone pillars, and a huge octagonal elevator platform that can easily crush distracted warriors on the ground level. You spawn near a bloodlust rune. Map by Dave Halsted.


DM-IceCavern – Duh…it’s set in a series of ice caverns. Nice lighting. Weapons stick in the walls of the cavern and in the ice formations. Sigurd’s Axe is on a slippery platform with a nasty crosswind; prepare to get wet if you go after it. There’s also a misty, reflective portal that reminded me a little of a gag from the classic text Adventure game (“the shadowy figure seems to be trying to get your attention”). A switch in the center of one of the caverns displays the intriguing message, “play with creatures”. Jean-Paul LeBreton.


DM-Sanctum – A cathedral-style indoor map with lava hazards. Eerie ambient sounds. Nice semi-transparent stained glass windows and skylights. You’ll have to go ethereal to see it, but one of the skylights features a really fun bas relief texture. A golden portal leads to a “safe area”. Mick Beard.


DM-Seaside – Wade ashore to this peaceful island village, with one of the nicest animated skyboxes I’ve seen. The map feels completely open. Fight your way across the rooftops or the ground. Restore your health at the villager’s tables, and pillage goodies from their longboats. Map by bFrank.


DM-Skorir – A mixed indoor / outdoor map (mostly indoor) with a ruins of gray stone, and some icy waters. Tight, arched passageways connect open areas. A moving platform takes you to the bloodlust rune. Map by Mick Beard.


DM-Team_Chasm – Wide, ivy-covered passageways lead to narrow iron catwalks spanning something like eight levels. Rotating blades defend one bloodlust rune, while a lever drops a huge iron piston onto enemies who go after the other. Rowan Atalla.


DM-Team_MadKing – This map offers unique challenges with a series of puzzles and a “capture the castle” theme. Although not billed as such, it’s basically a single-player or co-op mini-adventure. You begin outdoors, and the first problem is how to get into the castle. Once inside the castle, you must lower a series of drawbridges to gain access to powerful weapons and open a secret chamber. Then, you must break the king’s seal. Then…well, no spoilers here. Fun ambient sounds, earthquakes, and progress messages make this map a real standout. Map by Michael Flynn.


DM-Team_Ships – Two Viking longboats flank a large Galleon. Prepare to be boarded! You can climb the rigging, tarp jump to the crow’s nest, or just fight on and below the decks. Death-defying moves are required to get at certain weapons. By Rowan Atalla.


Classic Rune DM Maps


These maps have been around since the release of Rune, and you can read more about them in our review from last year. Here’s a short summary:


DM-AcidChamber – Caverns ring a huge pool of deadly acid. Catwalks take you to a central platform, where you can fight or climb up to the bloodlust rune. Mick Beard.


DM-Coliseum – Fast and furious free-for-all in this small D-shaped Roman arena littered with weapons. From one wall, you can hear the hum of a hidden bloodlust rune. Dave Halsted


DM-Hel – Action on three levels with lots of tarp-jumping and weapons and food everywhere. If you jump just right, you might get to the high, suspended platform where you’ll find the bloodlust rune. Dave Halsted


DM-Hildir – A series of large rooms. A different weapon in the center of each. Three levels. A gong. Elevators. Switches that open grates leading to weapons. Stuff like that. Mick Beard.


DM-LavaPit – Any weapons you get on this level will be at the spawn point, or taken from the hands of your dead foes. A small round arena is ringed by killer lava. No big weapons, so this map is a regular mosh pit. Mick Beard.


DM-Ruins – The mid-sized courtyard has lots of broken stone columns to climb on. You can hide in the trees, rumble in the side passages, or stand atop the raised central platform and play king-of-the-hill. Ted Halsted.


DM-Thorstadt – Spacious map set in the corridors and rooftops of an open-air mountain fortress. A mix of long, straight passages and close quarters.


The New Player Models


All of the new player models in Rune: Halls of Valhalla use the new SubstituteMesh feature of the version 1.06 Rune engine. SubstituteMesh was a great addition to Rune, allowing users to create player models without duplicating the hundreds of animation sequences used by a Rune player model. Using SubstituteMesh greatly decreases the amount of hard disk space needed to store the new models’ data files, and also reduces the cost of developing them, but it also gives HoV a “pre-fabricated” feel: all of the player models move exactly like Ragnar (even the females). I think a really “pro” player model should have at least some original animation.


Another side effect of re-using Ragnar’s animations for all of the HoV models is that limbs and weapons are more likely to pass through each other unrealistically as the model moves. This is most noticeable on bulky models like HOV_Dwarf and HOV_Remus.


There are 16 “new” player models, counting skins and models like the Sarks that were hacked long ago by players, but which Human Head officially supports in HoV:


HOV_Dwarf – A dwarf from Rune, scaled up to fit Ragnar’s skeleton. He’s fun to play, but one of the models that would really benefit from some custom animation and scaling  (an 8 foot tall, 500 pound Dwarf? Please…)


HOV_GoldValkyrie – A sexy, flashy female model with light skin, gold armor, knee-length skirt, shoulder-length brown hair, and a winged helm. Another model that could use some custom animations – at least for the walks and idles.


HOV_Mongol – An Atilla the Hun-looking model in red robes.


HOV_Remus – A spiffy Roman gladiator with (non-functional) partial steel body armor and lots of muscles.


HOV_Romulus – Same shape and size as Remus, with black hair, dark skin and gold armor.


HOV_SnakeBerserker – The Berserker mesh from Rune, with a new, green reptilian skin. This one looks kind of lame to me, but probably appeals to all of the snake-worshiping Rune players out there.


HOV_Swashbuckler – This looks a lot like Town Ragnar (your starting character in Rune), with a kind of pirate-looking skin, black hair, and some facial hair.


HOV_Syrian – Same shape and size as Mongol, but with yellow robes and Saddam Husain’s face. Well, maybe it’s not really his face, but you get the idea.


HOV_Wren – Same shape and size as GoldValkyrie, but with leopard-pattern armor, black hair, and dark skin. Same animation issues as GoldValkyrie.


Jun – The female model that shipped with the 1.06 patch. Jun has a loose-fitting leather jerkin, pants tucked into knee-high boots, shoulder-length red hair, and a horned helm.


Sark Axe – The axe-wielding Sark in medium plate armor, from the final level of the original Rune. This mesh has been used before by Rune hackers, because it used to have special powers. The version of the model provided with HoV looks the same, but does not have special powers.


Sark Conrack – The final boss from Rune, Conrack as he appears after jumping into a pool of Loki’s blood. Another mesh used by hackers in the past, now “fixed” by Human Head.

Sark Hammer– The hammer-wielding Sark in full plate armor, from the final level of the original Rune. Another mesh used by hackers in the past, now “fixed” by Human Head.


Sark RagnarRagnar from the original Rune, as he appears after jumping into a pool of Loki’s blood. Another mesh used by hackers in the past, now “fixed” by Human Head.


Sark Spawn – The scrawny little Sarks that emerge from the Loki blood pool in one of the final levels of Rune.


Sark Sword – The sword-wielding Sark in upper-body plate armor, from the final level of the original Rune. Another mesh used by hackers in the past, now “fixed” by Human Head.




Maps – There are a lot of maps in Rune: Halls of Valhalla. The quality is mixed, but all of the maps are at least average and some are excellent. 7 out of 10.


Player Models – Players will really enjoy the new player models and sounds for Rune. Good to see some female models and some non-Caucasian skins. Some points lost here for taking the easy route and giving all of the models the same animations as Ragnar. 6 out of 10.


Head-Ball – Overall we really enjoyed the new Head-Ball mode. Not the most sophisticated of mods, but the rules are simple and make sense, and the game holds your interest. Shows off Human Head’s twisted sense of humor. 8 out of 10.


Arena Match – This is a decent one-on-one forced honor match with good llama protection. I generally dislike this type of mod for any game because there’s a bit of the “nanny state” mentality at work whenever the server limits player actions to enforce game rules - we think people ought to be able to behave themselves and follow game rules without server assistance. Some players like this sort of thing, though, and Human Head’s use of three distinct zones in each map provides good game flow. The rough spots in how acquired weapons and health are handled for the winner of each round cost some rating points. 6 out of 10.


Gameplay – We rated the original Rune in a review published last year; it scored 7 out of 10 for gameplay, losing points in part because the player doesn’t have as much freedom of movement as, say, Corvus in Heretic II. This hasn’t changed in Rune: Halls of Valhalla, but because of the Version 1.06 patch included in HoV you’ll have to deal with all of the pros and cons of the changes to player movement, net code, and weapons balance. If you play on a modem, or are a casual player, you’ll probably like the changes. If you play on a fast connection and were into the more realistic player movement and weapons balance of the original Rune, you’ll probably dislike the changes. The new shield and weapon blocking is generally positive, but a bit overdone. On the balance, HoV gets a (generous) 7 out of 10.


Storyline – This add-on is for multi-player only, so there’s no real storyline. Several of us at Mindless Games and Entertainment were disappointed by the lack of a new single-player mission in HoV, but then also pleasantly surprised by the mini-story in Michael Flynn’s DM-Team_MadKing map. These rating points are for Mike’s story (seen for what it is, an entertaining vignette rather than a mission), adjusted down a little because we wanted more. Unfair for an add-on billed as multiplayer-only? You decide, and make your own rating if you don’t like ours. 6 out of 10.


Sound – The sounds in Rune have always been excellent. A lot of the new maps lack ambient sounds, and there’s no real new music, so HoV gets a lower rating here than the original Rune. 7 out of 10.


Value – We started this review with several ways of looking at the value of HoV. There’s merit to all of these arguments. Ultimately every artist decides whether to give away his work or to try to sell it, and Human Head Studios decided to try to sell this. If you didn’t buy Rune and love deathmatch, HoV is a great value. If you did buy Rune but aren’t on a boadband connection, it’s probably worth $20 for HoV to get fourty new maps, two decent mods, and sixteen new player models with sounds on a CD instead of having to download them (even if you could download them…). If you bought Rune last year expecting great deathmatch, and don’t like what the free 1.06 patch did to game mechanics, Rune: Halls of Valhalla isn’t going to bring you any closer to your dream but will give you some variety. 7 out of 10.


Total – Our overall rating for Rune: Halls of Valhalla is 6.8 out of 10.


Facts and Figures



Rune: Halls of Valhalla



Windows 95/98/ME, NT (with Service Pack 3 or higher), 2000



AMD K6-2/3 or Intel Pentium II, or Celeron 300Mhz  or higher

Recommended: AMD Athlon or Intel Pentium III 450 MHz or higher



Recommended: 128MB or more


Direct X Compatible Video Card with at least 8MB of Video Memory

Strongly Recommended: 3D Accelerator with at least 8MB of  Video Memory (Nvidia TNT / GeForce, ATI Rage 128 / Radeon, 3dfx Voodoo5, Matrox G400)


Any Direct X Compatible Sound Card (EAX and A3D Supported)


Disk Space

88MB Free Hard Drive Space

Recommended: 650 MB Free Hard Drive Space



Recommended: 8X or faster




Video Modes Supported

Direct 3D, Glide, OpenGL, MeTal, Software. Note that only OpenGL, Glide and Software Rendering supported  on Windows NT



Comments? Write Gwynhala at


This review originally ran on 4/23/2001. The site is now offline.