#MobileMondays, Round 2 - Gods of Rome
It's Monday! Yes, I'm here once again, with another look at a mobile game that breaks the stereotype of Angry Birds, Candy Crush, and Temple Run being the only thing people ever play on their cell phones. Up for examination: Gods of Rome, another Gameloft title, also free to play -- two traits it shares with the last game I took a crack at, Asphalt 8.
Believe it or not, this was not the game I originally intended to review this week. In fact, until very recently, I hadn't even heard of the thing. So just how did that change? Why, through Gameloft's clever cross-game advertisements.
I found out about this game thanks to one of the "Free Token" ads in Asphalt 8 that I mentioned in my review. It took about twenty seconds of trailer footage for me to realize that what I was looking at was a fighting game and it looked gorgeous...really gorgeous, especially for a title that was claiming to run on mobile devices. However, I won't deny that Gameloft has a track record of pushing the boundaries of mobile graphics in a lot of their games. So it wasn't a complete shock.
And that was about it. I watched the trailer, decided I needed to get my fingers on this game NOW, crossed them, and searched the Windows App Store. Success was to be found, and so my journey began.
If nothing else, you have to admire Gameloft's commitment to great presentation in their games
Ascender, You Must Stop The Son of Hades
Yes, there's a story here in Gods of Rome, and you're thrust right into it from the opening screen. Now, while it's certainly not Hollywood-class writing, the story is -- so far -- interesting enough to hold my attention. You, the player are known as an "Ascender," a person capable of summoning the spirits of warriors to battle. Your foe is Tenebrous, son of Hades, and he has found the Chaos Vessel, an artifact which allows him to control the souls of even the Gods themselves. A little contrived? Sure. Still, it's entertaining and a good enough explanation as to why gods, demigods, and monsters would all step into an arena to fight each other.
Battle Alongside Mighty Allies
Character variety is diverse, and with all the additional bonuses and special traits different characters can have, it feels worthwhile to pursue collecting a stable of different fighters. Each character also falls into a class, either God, Demigod, Hero, Ancient, or Monster. Each of these classes has an advantage over, and disadvantage against a certain other class, so it's wise to learn these pairings, as from my experience they can slant the tide of battle heavily in your favor when used properly.
Like so. Those green and red arrows indicate class advantage/disadvantage
Character "selection" is limited to those you have in your possession. The amount you have and that can be applied to a team, will increase as you level up and gain Spheres. Spheres are how you obtain pretty much everything worthwhile in this game and opening one is a luck of the draw situation. Now, it's not COMPLETELY random, as you can tap/press to stop the sphere's contents from spinning early, so if you have good timing, you can aim for a specific reward, which I think is a nice touch. I've managed to land two copies of my two star Zeus, giving him access to his first passive ability, and greatly increasing his battle potential. Yes, that's right, duplicates are a GOOD thing in this game, also a nice touch.
Enter the Arena
Alright, so let's get to the part of any game that people tend to care the most about: the core gameplay. To put it simply...it feels really, really good. Controls are simple. While I was using an Xbox controller to play the game since I'm on PC, I have looked at the touch controls. They're intuitive, and the gameplay is simple enough that I have no doubt they function well.
Combat feels immensely satisfying, despite the overall simplicity. In all honesty, while Gods of Rome is "simple" in terms of the fighting genre in general, the combat system is actually more robust than most other offerings out there on mobile -- of which there aren't many. You actually have a full system, with light, medium, and heavy attacks, each of which are independently executable, and special moves with a meter attached. Unfortunately, these moves aren't "selectable," in the sense that if you have two or three bars, you'll automatically do the biggest special you can, and if possible, that's definitely one of the first things I'd like to see change in a future update.
Unique character intros and outros are also a nice little presentation bonus
Another thing that really helps this game is the fact that your hits feel like they have impact. While it's often brought up in discussions of the genre and hard to really quantify, making combat feel good is a critical, oftentimes overlooked element of good design. Strikes feel punchy and satisfying, and even blocked attacks carry a certain weight that really give the gameplay a sense of urgency. Well done there, Gameloft.
Your Verdict, Emperor?
Get this game. Seriously, get this game. The presentation is beautiful, some of the best I've seen on mobile, and even in general. The combat is complex enough to avoid the "mindless screen tapping" that you see in some other titles, but simple enough to be touch friendly. So far, I haven't hit a single hard paywall, despite having given this game a fair number of my hours.
The worst things about this are the energy meter for single player, and the timers for PvP. Both of these can be skipped using Gems if you're really that impatient, and in a game with this many high points, I find these minor transgressions completely forgivable. However, if you're going completely free to play, like I have so far, I wouldn't recommend using the handfuls of Gems you earn for leveling up and completing chapters towards energy or time skips very often. You're much better off investing them in spheres to get more and better fighters, especially early on. For all of that, I have to give Gods of Rome a 9 out of 10. I absolutely recommend this game, even if you're not a hardcore fighting game fan, simply because it's so much fun.
As always, thanks for reading, and be sure to check back next week to see what game gets the #MobileMondays treatment!