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Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising Preview

publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
developer: Perpetual Entertainment
genre: RPG

ESRB rating: T

release date: Cancelled
» All About Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising on ActionTrip

If there is one thing that the World of Warcraft phenomenon has thought us, it's that, for an MMOG to become a huge hit, it does not necessarily have to innervate (sorry! Innovate!), or revolutionize. It has to be well executed and fun. If you ask me, fun, that most elusive of the terms, is the key to this riddle. And how do you determine if a game is fun? At the E3 it was rather easy to do it - you'd go from one booth to the next and look at people playing games, or play them yourself. If you've been in this business for as long as I have, at the very least, you'll know what you like or dislike in the first two minutes of seeing a game.

I checked out many of the 'promising' MMOGs at the show (games like Vanguard and Age of Conan), and I simply didn't find them all that fun. Screw the PR, screw the elaborate explanations, they didn't *feel* right. Now, as superficial as this may seem to some, this is actually the critical factor for new games. Like myself, consumers aren't going to spend hours in a game before they decide whether they like it or not. The game has to seem fun if they are to even consider spending more time with it.

Gods & Heroes is an MMO title I have never even heard of before the convention. I was wandering through the innards of the SOE booth, internally yawning through Vanguard and some PS3 launch title presentation, when a game caught my eye, second computer on the left hand side of the booth. Visually, it looked extremely appealing, so I kind of hurried up the other stuff, and made my way to Gods & Heroes. The game just felt right and it looked like it was fun to play. End of story.

Developed by San Francisco-based developer Perpetual Entertainment, Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising puts players in a fantasy world inspired in part by the Ancient Roman mythology. If you are confusing it with the Ancient Greek mythology (and the subtitle isn't enough of a clue), fear not, as the Roman mythology itself was mostly copying what the Greeks came up with before them. In gaming terms, however, what this title gives the player is a chance to wield the power of the gods as their champion in your battle against enemies of the Roman Republic and mythical monsters. The way that magic is integrated into this game is through 'divine intervention' if you will. In the same way it worked in the Roman Mythology.

Before I go on talking about the game itself, however, I should also point out one very interesting fact about Perpetual Entertainment. Though they may seem like newcomers to the scene, Perpetual Entertainment Lead Designer Stieg Hedlund was lead designer of Diablo II. I repeat, Diablo II.

As you are well aware, the design philosophy of Blizzard both then and now has been to accentuate the fluid, lifelike and often spectacular animation of the characters, as well as to create a vibrant world of rich colors and dazzling special effects (rather than to simply rely on the latest advances in 3D technology). Gods & Heroes follows that same pattern. One of the main things that makes the combat look awesome right off the bat is the incredible combat animation system.

"Reminiscent of an Action/RPG, combat moves can be linked together and even include 'finishing' moves to provide a more dynamic, dramatic and visceral feel to battles. Squad-based combat is another unique aspect of Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising; players will earn and command Non-Player Characters (NPCs) in a variety of strategic groupings to form individual squads, create unique formations and implement combat tactics for these squads to execute on command, maximizing their power in combat."

Of course, PvP will be an integral part of the game as well. Some PvP features will be available at launch, while others may take more time to implement. In general, we'll see stuff like Party vs. Party, Tribe vs. Tribe and for future expansions Nation vs. Nation battles.

So while not exactly revolutionizing the genre, Gods & Heroes will bring that unique feel of Diablo games into an MMO universe, even before Blizzard does anything about it. The license itself (the mythical world the game takes place in) has plenty of potential, especially if you consider that Blizzard themselves are often blatantly borrowing from both Eastern and Western mythologies.

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