NOTE: Originally this game had a rating of “Rent.” However, that’s being changed to “Buy.” The reason should be obvious in the comments below. However, my stance on the tutorial still stands. Stardock is an exemplary company, and I’m sure they may address that as well (they have with other releases). I stand corrected. The original review text has remained unchanged.
A god has fallen. Will you fight to take his place?
That depends if you’re willing to accept the title as a complete game, and if you’re willing to teach yourself how to be a demigod.
DO: You are a demigod assassin (just you) or general (you and minions) who is competing to fill a vacancy in heaven middle-management. (This is more detail than the game gives.)
TYPE: RTS/RPG hybrid
PLATFORM: PC—Windows (Impulse and retail)
MEAT: Playing on Team Fortress style maps, you learn on your own to control your demigod to capture flags, spawn points, control points, and to attack and defend enemy units. Basically, it’s an RTS where you play one character. Throughout the battle, you can level up, upgrade your demigod’s skills, and add status effects. Earning experience, favor points, and “gold” garner you currency for upgrades. What you earn in the single-player game does not cross over to the multiplayer game and vice versa. However, this does not really matter. Apparently , you paid for a part of a game you cannot play. Good luck getting a multiplayer game to work. Oh, did I mention that multiplayer is the apparently main focus of the title?
The game has nothing in the way of story and campaign. You play in AI controlled tournaments of which there are eight rounds. Think Unreal Tournament. Winning gets you the chance to…play it again. There is a skirmish mode, but with most RTS games that’s a given.
PERKS: controlling a demigod is satisfying; excellent presentation and design; each one of the eight demigods is fun and unique; deep RPG elements for the demigod teams and the demigod itself; interesting sound effects; no DRM;
SCREAMS: TUTORIAL! Where is it? (see my final comments below); for multiplayer to, you know, work; for a campaign; to be a Windows Live title instead of a “new” tech; for more than eight arenas;
VERDICT: Buy. I cannot recommend enough how enjoyable this game is. My onnly wish is that it showed you the game mechanics and it’s a shame that the potential on an interesting single-player campaign is wasted.Rent. Before you get all antsy, I know you cannot rent a PC game. I’m saying this because I think it’s an excellent game—just not out of the box. Granted, the street date was broken by a day or two, and Stardock is working on the multiplayer issues, but c’mon. I’m not giving any slack for launch issues to anybody anymore. Also, if it’s a Games for Windows title, why not use Live? Instead we get a “new” peer-to-peer Impulse technology. I was not able to play a multiplayer game at all. Once all these issues are addressed, I think this would be an “Buy” title.
I was able to play a single-player tournament in under ten hours. Most of that time was spent learning how to play and what does what. The real kicker is that the upgrading and leveling takes some reading to learn what it does. The game runs in the background while this is happening. Yep, I replayed a lot. Also, here’s a quote out of the included guide:
Let’s face it, the two most annoying ways to learn how to play a game are the user manual and an in-game tutorial. Anyone who has ever introduced a group of friends to a strategy game has probably not told them to take a scholarly review of the manual or had them played through some hackneyed in-game tutorial mission.
…and then the guide proceeds to tell you how to play by basically describing the key commands. Gas Powered Games and Star Dock are assuming too much. It doesn’t help that they contradict the quote above either by making me give the guide a “scholarly review” to see how to play.