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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Demigod - Review

Demigod is a game made by Gas Powered Games (Probably best known for Supreme Commander) and apparently people were complaining about how it looked a lot like Defense of the Ancients for Warcraft III. I really could care less. If the makers had it copyrighted and have a right to sue then by all means go ahead, otherwise you can't complain that it has a similar concept. I'd like to remind you guys that Tower defense started from Rampart and then moved to Starcraft (probably giving one of the most effective uses for "building stacking" hacks). That being said, this review is completely on its own and looking at Demigod for what it is.

Let's start off with the gameplay. There's a lack of story, rather story mode, which means you could probably care less about their back story. Basically, there are two sides with pre-established bases. This means you already have allied units and an economy made for you, your job is to basically take out the enemy base. Each base controls a number of portals and from those portals units will spawn (amusingly enough they go under the category of "grunts") and attack opposing forces. The only thing you have control over is your hero. It starts at level one and has a variety of potential skills and equipment slots.

The field has flags (command points) which will help bolster your forces in some way or capture key buildings which will help you out. Needless to say, controlling these points help.

Heroes are developed pretty well. They all have a handful of skills that you need to pick carefully. Since max level is 20 and you get one skill point per level, you can't invest in everything as that would require around 35 skill points, and they're broken down into 2 classes: Generals and Assassins. Assassins specialize in dealing damage to heroes and single units whereas Generals generally have some summoning skills and can buy items to command small squads. Still though, you can generally branch off on two trees you particularly like and then some. Once your build is developed then you can start increasing skills in a balanced manner. I'd also like to note some of the humorous sound clips that occur which which lighten the feel of the game a bit ("Was that five bolts or six?!").

This game doesn't have a tutorial, so you basically start off right in the battle on a trial and error basis.

The graphics are pretty solid. They're really high quality and skills look really nice but the issue is most of the time, you'll be looking at a semi-zoomed out bird's eye view. I've been looking at screenshots and although that kind of view presented is possible, it gives you so little command. This game is played RTS style meaning it's all with your mouse and to take command of something as obscenely large as the Rook close up is a horrible idea on many accounts, with the first being that the rook takes up your screen.

Most matches last around 30 minutes to an hour on normal difficulty and you go by recommended player numbers on the map. Add more and you're extending the game's lifespan when you hit that bottleneck.

Increase the difficulty and the game will last much longer.

Finally, as you gain achievements and win battles. You acquire "favor points" which will allow you to buy equipment that has it's own slot and is exclusive to "favor points."

The game's really fun in short bursts and great to play with friends.

The main issue with this game is that it's unfinished in my opinion.

There are only eight heroes, so it's inevitable that there's going to be an overlap on 5v5s. I feel that for a game that has so much focus on players being heroes, there should be at least one unique character for each available slot.

Following the lack of heroes is a lack of maps. There are a total of eight maps which don't leave much room for hundreds of battles ("You wanna fight on the completely flat plain? Or on the wiry constricted bridges? Or flat planes separated by wiry constricted bridges?"). That isn't to say that some of these maps are innovative and look good, but graphics aren't everything.

One thing great about the A.I. is that is has the same capabilities as you in that they can buy items as easily as much as you can. It's pretty advanced but you can easily see where it starts to fail. Once you set to Hard or Nightmare, I'm pretty sure the computers have been given exp hacks. There are instances that on the first contact in the round the enemy was level 4. It also isn't as if the A.I. is just superbly smart either. My team had a Nightmare Oak (general) and for about 5 minutes, it just stood still with its army in base picking its nose. Once the Healer (a general) breaks a certain threshold it just charges into the enemy base caring little for its units and taking on base defenses alone healing only itself.

Cheating computers doesn't equal greater difficulty. Rubberbanding in racing games are the same thing. It's kinda ridiculous that some car gets infinite nitro and breaks top speed barriers like nothing. My friends and I (4 players vs. 5 computers, one nightmare difficulty) got to the point where we cornered the enemies in their base. I had 10590 HP with a ridiculous amount of armor, 680-750 damage per hit and an attack speed of .6 of a second. I basically bought all the most expensive items in the game resulting in ridiculous stats. The Nightmare computer had around 7000 HP and what was baffling was that in a strict one on one, it was dealing more damage to me than I was to it, hitting faster, and taking less damage. I'd just like to remind you that item boosts can only go so far. No matter how much you boost your stats, it caps off at a certain point. This resulted in a frustrated yell from me as it's inconceivable as to how it could be besting me. I don't get what the computer could buy that allowed it to go beyond the cap for human players, other than having no limiters. The highest damage negation I've seen is around 60%. I was dealing around 170 to this enemy which means that, had it been my WEAKEST hit, it would be negating 75% damage. I'd also like to remind you we were the same unit and both level 20.

As I said before, there's no campaign mode or anything, so I as the player could really care less about the block of text explaining origins of that hero.

Finally, items only obtainable via favor points suck. There's only a few I use and even those slowly lose their value as battles go on. There's a option in the lobby settings to turn favor items on and off but honestly, it doesn't really make a difference. None of them warrant the amount of time spent in getting points.

It's priced at $40 US which seems ridiculous. As I said, it's great in bursts but you're bound to get tired of it easily. There's too little content that make this game "fun." Great for like a rental (if you can rent a PC game) but I'm definitely for asking my money back.

And no, a ladder system doesn't suddenly make games "fun." Competition works when there's a foundation, which this is lacking.

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