Review: God Mode's limitations keep it grounded in mortality
It seems everyone wants in on the online multiplayer shooter market – and why not? There's a reason games like Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops II stay high on the charts every week when it comes to Xbox Live traffic. But a lot of these developers don't seem to realize that you need to offer something different to stand out. Anyone can make a run-and-gun game, but without the necessary polish – or perks to initially draw people in – there's not much of a point to those games' existence.
God Mode, the latest game from Atlus, at least tries to be different – to an extent. Rather than just playing the same old soldiers, you portray fallen gods, who find themselves in a series of extensive trials against oncoming enemies in the hopes of regaining their immortality. That's easier said than done, though, especially when you have a mountain-sized demon lurching down on you. Where's Kratos when you need him?
This game does have an interesting twist or two when it comes to its setup. First off, the characters are oddball enough to stand out, with the ability to level up with earned gold and XP. But the real treat comes with the introduction of the "Tests of Faith. These are modifiers that randomly change the course of each match that lies ahead, whether it's granting your team unlimited ammunition or raining meteors from the sky to help pound down skeletons and other dangers that head your way.
However, that's really about it. The fact is, God Mode's gameplay, outside of the modifiers, doesn't offer anything new. You start out with a basic rifle and set out to pretty much mow everyone down, with very little strategy to follow. With the right team, there's fun to be had, but outside of the massive boss battles, there's hardly anything here that really feels like a challenge of the gods. Even on the tougher difficulty settings, it never really feels like you get anywhere.
It doesn't help that limitations pop up when it comes to earning better weapons. Rather than giving you easier access to some of the cooler guns in the game (or, God forbid, letting you buy them off Xbox Live or PlayStation Network), you have to pretty much get through a few hours' worth of the game before you open them up. And by then, you might be let down by some of the effects they produce. It's like taking test drives in luxurious cars, then merely being offered a Scion.
The game is multiplayer-oriented, and that's probably the better way to go. You could try out the single-player, but there's very little content here to push through. From the matches we played, the game did have a bit of lag, but not enough to throw off those who feel the need to push their way to godhood. But without too many modes to choose from, you're going to be doing the same old killing. I mean, even the original Gears of War has a better progression scale than this game. And that's years old.
Its presentation does little to validate it either. The map design seems rather bland at best, with most arenas barely giving you any real room to run around. Some of the enemies look good, but others seem to be lacking that spark that says, "Hey, you want to kill me, right?" At least some of the heroes offer variety, compared to the usual grunts, as mentioned above.
But, man, the audio needs work. The music is okay at best, and the sound effects have their moments, especially with such weapons as the blade spinner doing an effective amount of damage. But the narrator wears out his welcome, with his bellowing voice consistently telling bad jokes over and over. Remember when announcers had important things to say in multiplayer games?
In the end, God Mode just doesn't do enough to justify its $10 price tag, even if you're seeking new multiplayer territory to dominate. I like the "Tests of Faith" modifiers that change each match, and the game has its moments with certain matches, but the lacking gameplay, combined with the unfair weapon unlock system and the average presentation, leave this game feeling very un-godlike.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]