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Demigod Review

publisher: Stardock Systems
developer: Gas Powered Games
genre: Strategy

PIV 2400, 512MB RAM, 8GB HDD, 128MB video card
ESRB rating: T

release date: Apr 14, 09
» All About Demigod on ActionTrip

Sibling rivalry sucks. Don't get me wrong. Having brothers and/or sisters can be great when you need someone else to blame if you break a window or spill Hawaiian Punch on the white carpet in the front room. But then you have to deal with your patsy returning the favor when they get in a jam. And let's not even talk about the situation when some sort of prize is on the line, like who gets to ride shotgun on a long trip. Then things can really turn nasty. So what would you do if the prize includes immortality and the unlimited power that comes with being a God? Yeah, I thought so.

Gas Powered Games and Stardock Studios have released their hybrid Real Time Strategy game, Demigod. I was able to get an early look at the game last month which you can check out here. The story behind Demigod is that the offspring of Gods and mortals (a.k.a. the Demigods), duke it out in various arenas for the chance to be upgraded to full God status and fill an empty slot in the Pantheon. Not that a story is needed really, with eight different Demigods to choose from, players can pick an avatar that reflects their play style, then head onto the battlefield and try to kick the stuffing out of the other team.

The Assassin avatars are suited for more of an aggressive play style as they can go the lone wolf route and last longer when they go toe to toe with enemy units. General avatars play more of a defensive or support role as their skills and abilities augment their allies with buffs, enhancements and healing. Regardless of which class or even which Demigod you choose, experience you earn from combat will allow you to choose what kind of character you are really playing as you upgrade your skills. You can further augment and customize your avatar by purchasing equipment and artifacts which will give you more health, mana and stat bonuses. This means that even if you and your opponent are playing the same character, you can experience a completely different style of game by upgrading a different set of skills.

There are four game types to choose from: Conquest, where you have to take out the other teams, Citadel (or base if you prefer) - a race to obtain a target number of points by capturing and holding flags around the map, Fortress where you have to destroy the enemy fortresses (also scattered around the map in this mode), and Slaughter, where the first side to kill a certain number of Demigods first, wins. In all the modes the key to getting the upper hand is to use your avatar to capture and hold flags which give you experience and other bonuses to your side which allows you to upgrade your Demigod and your Citadel. Currently there are eight maps available, which, depending on who you talk to, is either great to start or a huge disappointment. More maps, Demigods and play modes are promised in the coming months.

Demigod was designed as a multiplayer game from the start. There is a single-player component that allows you to play all modes, on all maps with computer AI for your team and the opposing side and if you are smart, you'll take advantage of the practice before heading online. The developers have stated that their goal was to create a game that players could jump into and get some serious play in without having to endure more than an hour for a match. Seeing as how there are no tutorials and no ramp up to more the powerful units and skills in the first few scenarios (as I am sick of experiencing in other standard RTS games), playing Demigod is akin to being pushed into the deep end of the pool. Being forced to sink or swim may be off putting for some players, but it also allows players to get to the meat of the game a lot faster. So depending on your play style, you might want to try some single-player skirmishes before getting your virtual head smashed in by that 14-year-old in his parents basement in Ohio.

Speaking of punks, Demigod was released with no copy protection. This lead to an unprecedented number of pirated copies of the game, which flooded the multiplayer servers in the days just after the game launched. This unfortunately led to a horrible experience for the legitimate owners of the game. I find it ironic that in most online debates about piracy and DRM people defending game piracy point to the high cost of games and annoying copy protecting schemes as reasons for targeting specific companies or titles. Demigod is priced as low as $35.00, so obviously price is not a very good excuse this time around. And since Stardock is the same publisher who got huge kudos from the gaming public for not including any sort of copy protecting in their other best known title, Sins of a Solar Empire, I had hoped Demigod would have gotten a bit more respect from the pirate community, but I guess there really is no honor among thieves.

Demigod looks good and is well-animated. It has some big flashy effects and really nice audio to boot, both sound effects and music wise. While Gas Powered Games may have accomplished their goal of stripping out the fluff from the RTS experience, for some players they might have gone too far by not including any tutorials and the heavy multiplayer slant. However, for players looking for some challenging strategy with an RPG skill system that allows the player to tailor the game to their play style, will find a fun and affordable game with Demigod. Just make sure you understand what kind of game you are buying and you won't be disappointed. And if you are disappointed, blame your little brother. That almost always works.


8.0   Very Good

Great graphics and audio, RPG leveling and skill system allow for different tactics and play styles, quick matches;

Designed as a multiplayer game, only eight maps can be a turn off for some, no tutorials means a steeper learning curve than the run-of-the-mill RTS.



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