Demigod Review (PC)

22 04 2009

demigod_pc_boxby Antman

Heya all, I’m back for my tricky 2nd (album) review.

For those unaware, a lot of scandal surrounds this new title from Gas Powered Games (of Supreme Commander fame).
During development, no DRM (Digital Rights Management) was placed into the majority of the game. Consequently, all those torrent-savvy have very little trouble in getting this installed and working. The only drawback of a torrented game is no online features.
In an article I read, of the 120,000 playing, only 18,000 are legitimately purchased copies, only 7%!

For one of the many articles, heres a link:
[url]http://www.pcworld.com/article/163359/hey_demigod_game_pirates_stop_killing_fun.html

Another quick point to mention is that many people have said this game is very very similar to a Warcraft III mod called Defender of the Ancients. I haven’t played Defender, so I can’t comment there.

So, a game steeped in controversy. It must be pretty special to generate so much attention, hmm?
Please read on…

Overview
Ah my sexy bitches, we live in a great time. On the frontier of gaming, traditional genres of games are being challenged, creating strange hybrids.
Some of these work well, mixing several different genres to provide new straegies and challenges to the player (Dawn of War II).
Whereas others just don’t work and are left on the beach flapping around with one leg and four arses. (I’m looking at you Godfather II Wink)

So, what kind of species is Demigod? Well, at its core it is a fast-paced real time strategy. Your demigod must work alone or with others to achieve certain objectives on a small map. To get ahead, you must use the RPG elements to equip you demigod with various skill upgrades, armor, weapons and even potions! There are also whiffs of FPS in the sound effects, but we’ll get to that later.

Graphics – 3.5/5
I must say this first and foremost, don’t let the screenshots fool you! All of the released shots are from a low-down perspective, getting up close to the action. Although you could play like this, you’d last about 30 seconds before you got trashed. In my experience, 90% of the action was viewed from the air, like most RTS’s.
Saying that, the textures were crisp and varied. All of the skills/projectiles have vibrant colours and animation making for a lively visual experience. Some nice touches include the animations of small foot-soldiers sent flying by the 50ft demigods.
The whole game is stylised in an ancient, ye olde worlde theme. Archaic symbols and atherial settings, much like the ancient greeks.
I experienced lag on the graphics, even when the going got crazy, sometimes it can be hard to select you demigod when hes obscured by a 100ft masonary giant!
On the down-side, I feel a bit disappointed at how the game has been portrayed in various magazines and online previews. Compared to your actual experience of the game.

Although you could theoretically play the game like this:

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In reality, your main view will be something like this:

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Sound – 4/5
Quite a decent job has been done with the SFX here. All the blade on blade clanging silenced as a 50 ton clompy foot rolls by. The various skills are accomplied by a suitably swishy sound. There is enough contrast and effects to generate a build-up of sound that seems to complement the often hectic gameplay.
Now, the FPS aspect I mentioned earlier. I was playing away for about an hour or so when I noticed something very strange for a RTS, each of the demigods has their list of catchphrases, which they will shout out when you nail another demigod, very much like Team Fortress 2.

Not convinced? Hmm, ok. How about a big boomy voice that shouts out the action going on. I genuinely think its the same guy who shouts “Headshot” in Quake. Many is the time you will hear “SMITE!” or “Double Smiter!”, and, I shit you not, theres even a “God-like!” in there. Somebodys having a laugh and to be honest, its me, I love it. It perfectly seems to enforce the adrenaline and carnage. Whether these catch-phrases will start to grate after awhile, only time will tell.

Gameplay – 3/5
A decent mix going on here, although a little daunting to get your head around at first. There was no tutorial so it kind of throws you in at the deep end. Being profound, maybe that was the intention, letting players find their own style of play in this genre confused title.
There is no base-building or recruitment available. You can upgrade your main building to give various bonuses and new units that are deployed via portals strewn about the map.

So, with most of the administration taken out of your hands, you can work on levelling your own stats/skills. Its not a simple case of spamming one particular attack, but success can only be gained by developing a strategy and combination of skills. In that way, it feels that victories are earnt by your own hand.

The downside of this: After every battle, you return to level 1, so every new skirmish you begin levelling again, often with the same skills if you’ve got a combination you find effective. With rounds often lasting no more than 30 minutes, it can seem like you’re going round in cirles. Some alteration of equipment is useful depending on the win conditions.

The game modes are limited, either by entering a single battle or a tournament, you can stomp your way to victory alone or with others. In an offline tournament, you join 3 COM allies and fight against 4 COM demigods. Although you’re on a team, there is no communication/strategy with the COM players, meaning you’re pretty much on your own, or mindlessly follow the COM allies around for a bit of backup. This is different online where playing with humans where you can use your own demigod’s strengths more effectively rather than rolling a “jack of all trades” demigod.

Re-playability – 4/5
To be honest, this game is all about the replay. There are achievements for each of the 8 characters and other global achievements. I think by adding the human factor by going online will keep this game fresh for longer.
Hopefully, the developers won’t be too offput by those wascaly pirates and will generate DLC for this title.

demigod-1

The bottom line – 7/10
This game has been quite hard to quantify. I am fully aware I’ve been blabbing on for awhile now. I thankyou for making it this far, and don’t begrudge you if you’ve skipped and scrolled down here.

I am in two minds. The two ways I could place this game are:

1. If I ignore all the previews and Gas Powered Games previous titles, I would say this game is a nifty little title. One of the most adrenaline filled RTS games I have played. Some balance issues and repitition can be resolved with updates, and the many achievements should motivate most to complete and compete for some time to come.

2. This game is nothing like the portrayals. Not once have I seen a screenshot in the traditional view you spend most of your time. Apart from the visual betrayal comes the gameplay one. I was expecting an epic battle between warring goliaths, but the fact is your demigod can’t even take down a defense tower without backup. Also, if you do die, you respawn 10 seconds later with little penalty.

Although the maps are small to intensify the action, its made the game feel so much smaller. Any progression you make is wiped out when you start the next level 30 minutes later. I would prefer 15 battles, all 8 hours long, rather than hundreds at 20 minutes.

Conclusion
I can see what Gas Powered Games are trying to do; bring innovation to a traditionally stodgey genre. Speeding things up to fit in with todays modern lifestyle. But the net gain of your experience is next to nil, the adrenaline buzz of a fast skirmish quickly fades away compared to an epic victory which took hours to achieve.

I was stunned to find the price tag of £35. For a series of quick matches, this is waaay overpriced. I’d say £20 is far more realistic. As rental is not an option for PC games, my advice would be to wait a couple of months, I reckon the price will drop like a stone due to all this piracy. Speaking of piracy, you could always….. *ahem, forget I said anything, it naughty Wink

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