In terms of gameplay, God Mode is a simple as it comes; Shoot everything that moves. You’ll find yourself faced with what seems like an insurmountable amount of enemies to deal with, ranging from a variety of Skeletons armed with swords, shields and bows and arrows, to harpies that fling poison at you, as well as giant ogres who’ll crush you with their clubs. You’re given a limited amount of health, shield and ammo, and if you’re at death’s door the only way to save yourself is to pick up a glowing red health orb, there’s no ducking behind cover and letting it rejuvenate. The end of each level sees you face a gloriously oversized boss, complete with health bar, who will need to be showered in a hail of bullets before they succumb. So far, so retro.
The plot is as thin as conceivably possible without it being described as completely non-existent. The loading screens tell us that your character is a blood descendant of a god banished from Mount Olympus. Your character has died in one of many ridiculous ways, from being eaten by a shark to meeting your demise due to lack of circulation from a pair of skinny jeans, and it’s your job to run and gun your way through waves of mythical enemies to regain your rightful place. The entire premise for your presence in this hell hole is explained within the grand total of 30 seconds.
The short and sweet plot fits with the rest of the game though. There’s five different maps, each split up into smaller arenas and each map will take 10-15 minutes to play through from start to finish. It should be noted that the levels are very well designed, being large and spacious. The scenery often changes too, whether it just being gigantic pendulums moving in the background or a huge battering ram swinging from the ceiling to crash through a wall, opening up your path to progress to the next arena.
If you’re concerned that five maps seems like a distinct lack of longevity your fears can be partially allayed due to the amount of variations to gameplay that are thrown at you. Each arena throws a different ‘Test Of Faith’ (as the game calls it) your way, each causing an alteration to the gameplay. These are seemingly at random and can make the game easier, more difficult, or sometimes just add an element of hilarity to the mix. For examples, one of the tests adds a healing ring around your character and any of your allies who are within that ring automatically heal through that section. Alternatively the game can dramatically ramp up the difficulty by making any damage received to one player be passed along to all the other players too. On the more ridiculous side of things, the game sometimes intentionally messes all the sound up, leaving the monsters you face sounding like they’ve inhaled a few canisters of helium before they’ve decided to attack you.
Also adding more replay factor to the game is a array of unlockables, ranging from different weapons to changed outfits and faces for your character. These can be unlocked when you’ve acquired the requisite amount of gold and reach a specified rank. While the outfits and faces add nothing but customization, the guns are somewhat more useful. The starting weapons of a spectacularly inaccurate SMG and the slowest shotgun ever seen in gaming will soon frustrate and you’ll quickly becoming jealous of other players running around with their plasma guns or grenade launchers. All the weapons have upgrade slots to improve crucial factors like the damage and accuracy also, and even the basic upgrades to the feeble starting weapons will soon make them a much more formidable arsenal.
If you fancy ramping up the difficulty beyond the Bronze, Silver or Gold levels (that’s easy, normal and hard to you and me), you can add ‘Oaths’ on to the game. These give you a marked disadvantage such as ammo or health pick ups being less effective or, for the truly insane, no shields, with the reward of a 8%-30% gold and XP multiplier.
While God Mode is unspectacular in terms of graphics and audio, there’s far worse to be seen in games costing much more. As previously mentioned, the levels themselves look good, plus the enemy characters are suitably grotesque should you have the misfortune to get up close and personal with them. The gun sound effects could do with a little more ‘ooomph’, but the fantastically sarcastic and camp narrator raises a laugh on the limited occasions he gets to speak.
It’s worth noting that this is an almost entirely multiplayer experience. While it is possible to set up a private lobby and jump into the action yourself, it’s almost pointless doing so. The game doesn’t seem to scale down for fewer players, and trying to play though alone is akin to having a death wish. While a more skilled player than I could potentially do well, on the few occasions I attempted a solo run I was absolutely destroyed by the waves of enemies, getting no further than into the second arena.
The mainly multiplayer approach is fine bar for two problems. Firstly it can take some time to party up with three other players, I’m not sure if this is down to a matchmaking issue or just a general lack of players on the tested Xbox 360 version. Secondly, if one of the other players drops out it kicks all players from the game. This can be particularly frustrating if you’ve fought through a couple of arenas.
If this generation has left you feeling a bit Gears Of War’d out, and you’ve had your fill of identikit third person shooters, God War has a refreshingly retro take on the genre. There’s no popping in and out of cover, in fact there’s practically no tactics at all, it’s just balls to the wall action. The lack of variety with the short length maps causes some concern, but the quick pick and and play factor and huge changed in gameplay die to the Tests Of Faith works in it’s favour. If you manage to convince a couple of friends to pick it up at the relatively cheap price of 800 MS Points there’s certainly a fun to be had, no matter how overall fleetingly it may be.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Platform: PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 / PC Release Date: 16/04/13
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of God Mode for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on a Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.