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May 11, 2009 | by  | in Games |
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Demigod: Send me an angel, just not this one

Demigod, the new RTS sensation; billed as the mega-hyped, action-packed, fast-paced, intensity-filled smorgasbord of action left me… a little unsatisfied.

This new offering from Gas Powered Games (the geniuses behind the Dungeon Siege series, and the fucking amazing Supreme Commander series) is a mere shadow of the production house’s former glory.

Well, to be fair, it’s not all doom and gloom. Games these days are just like movies—there’s enough in there for the lowest common denominator. Like Marvel’s latest, Wolverine, Demigod has all the style, all the flair, but none of the grace.

Take its interface as a starting point— the maps are strange path-driven worlds, seemingly floating in space, with no real purpose. Units charge down these looping race tracks, which only seem to serve the purpose of restricting where to go. It’s as if the designers wanted all the conflict in the game to happen in a hyper-real, post-modern (but perversely antiquated) environment. Units clash and move around each other with all the simulacrum of a pinball game. I didn’t like it.

Sigh, I haven’t really explained what you do in this game yet. I’ve just launched into a weird, slightly wanky critique. I’ll back track. The game is loosely based off the popular old chestnut, DOTA (Defense of the Ancients), except it’s been given a makeover (and quite a visceral one at that). You select a hero, and go fight other heroes, earning money to purchase weapons and spells to increase the abilities of your chosen demigod. All the while you are backed up with infinitely spawning armies of minions that don’t seem to serve any purpose besides cannon fodder—so you can have something to loot, to feed your war chests.

The classic selections of characters are available. There is the tank, the spell caster, the buff, tough well balanced guy, the healer, the dealer and the cowardly squealer. In keeping with theme, all of them are dressed up as fancy interpretations of gods from antiquity.

Things seem fairly stock-standard at this point. Select hero. Send to battle. Earn XP points. Resend in Hero. Continue ad nauseam.

To make games that are based off these tried and true formulas work, there needs to be some added oomph. Video games have been around long enough to form their own clichés. RTS developers in this day and age need to create, re-invent, or hide the dusty bones of DOTA past. Demigod doesn’t do this well, although it does try.

The opening credits posit the game in some kind of greeko-apocalypse, where demigods are vying for ultimate control and power, in order to ascend into the ranks of the truly holy. And the intro video is voiced by this badass wicked sounding dude—we all thought it was Christopher Lee. Actually, that is one area where this game does score a good mark. Its sound design. Its tight yo’. There was some seriously good work put into the clashing of steel on steel, or spell on flesh.

The graphics are good, but that’s to be expected these days. The plot isn’t, which is a shame, the multi-player is atrocious (legitimate buyers were having trouble connecting because the ratio of illegitimate pirates to real owners was 17:1—lulz!) and the theme was tepid.

Ultimately, a veneer of context just isn’t enough to satisfy this (intellectual) gamer. It’s no Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway, where this poor reviewer was so caught up in the pixelated emotion, he was crying at the screen, screaming “No Sgt. Baker no!”

But why should we care? Some poor readers will be exclaiming, oh shinigami you pompous git—get your hands off your ivory keyboard and just enjoy yourself once and awhile. Fuck, it’s only a game after all.

Well, we should care because games have ceased to become games anymore. Games and gaming have permeated the boundary between what’s real and what’s not. The United States alone spends billions of dollars creating lifelike “war-games”—intense simulations of conflicts and battles. They’ve gotten so good, that when the US invaded Iraq for the second time, they initially confused their war-gamed data for the real deal. If that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will.

Okay, I’ve gone on a tangent again, I apologise. Games man, serious shit. Don’t let Crash Bandicoot fool you. [Random trivia, Crash’s theme song was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh—who did the music for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, cool huh!]. In sum, this game is good for a drunken lan. It’s pretty, it sounds nice, but its mutton dressed as lamb. If I wanted a clicking simulator, I’d play minesweeper. Demigod looks the part, but is ultimately let down by poor game mechanics, unoriginality and a total lack of emotion.

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  1. Your Name says:

    I must agree it lacks…a lot actually. but i didnt pay for it, so that causes me no harm besides taking up valuable disc space on the craptop 9000.

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