God Mode (PC)

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, April 28, 2013

Atlus may be known for their RPG titles, but over the years the publisher has taken a chance on some downloadable independent titles that have branched out into different genres and had a bit of a quirky side to them. One of the company’s latest titles is God Mode, a third person arcade shooter developed by Old School Games and Saber Interactive that supports up to four players and boasts a $9.99 price tag. I’ve been playing the PC version since its release on the 19th, but decided to wait a few days to see if the developers rolled out a patch. Is this a good budget shooter, or has Atlus simply dumped a subpar title out at a cheap price?

Rather than trying to establish a plot, God Mode is focused entirely on its action. Essentially, you’re dead and are now thrust into the Maze of Hades as an opportunity to gain eternal life and the only way to accomplish this is to kill lots and lots of monsters. When you first open up the game, the only options are Quick Match and Create Match along with a Bestiary that lets you see photos and descriptions of all the monsters you will be taking on. God Mode doesn’t make the greatest first impression with its menu system, as everything is buried and it isn’t immediately clear to new players how to access everything. You see, you start off with a generic looking character (male only at this point, but it’s not clear whether the developers might add additional models in a future patch/expansion) and as you gain experience and levels you can purchase new weapons, abilities, and change your appearance. But the only way to do so is select the Cadaver Gear menu once you’ve already gone in to start Quick Match or Create Match. Additionally, it wasn’t clear to me whether I could do solo runs of the levels or not at first, but I later found out that you could do so by Creating a Match with no one else in your party. These aren’t necessarily major issues, but it does feel as though the title could have been set up a little differently to be more accommodating to newcomers.

I’ll discuss the weapon and character upgrade system more in depth momentarily, but before that let’s talk about the gameplay itself. God Mode is divided into five distinctive levels, each made up of four to five separate areas. Some levels have bosses at the end while others don’t, and successfully completing a level spawns characters into a coin filled mansion where they try to collect as much money as they can in the time limit while also shooting at each other. This brings a nice little competitive twist to the end of co-op. The matches play out like your standard first person shooter, and your character can sprint and roll with relative ease (although for some reason you can’t reload while sprinting). Like any game of this type, expect to be completely swarmed by enemies on a regular basis. God Mode does a great job of providing players with some hectic battles, as not only will it spawn a significant number of enemies but also throws a whole slew of enemy types that can throw projectiles, making it best to keep moving if you hope to survive. It is possible to click the right mouse button to perform a melee move, but when you’re getting swarmed by 8-10 skeletons at once taking the time to melee often isn’t practical and it is best left as a last resort. The shooting and movement mechanics feel solid and while the gunplay feels a little weak at times and bigger enemies don’t always reflect the damage you’re inflicting upon them, there was still something quite satisfying about mowing down enemy after enemy. On one of the levels, you and your teammates charge up a hill and break into fortresses as the monster forces throw everything they have at you. The sheer scale of this type of level is unusual for a $9.99 downloadable game, and with solid shooting mechanics in place this game clicked and was surprisingly fun to grind through.

As mentioned earlier, playing through matches earns you experience and money which can be put towards your character. It is possible to buy new primary/secondary weapons, upgrade the accuracy, damage and reload speed of an existing weapon, as well as buy new abilities such as healing that can be activated by building up a rage meter in-game. The weapons players can purchase are locked by level and cost, meaning that it will take a decent amount of time to be able to unlock all of them and this does provide a nice sense of progression. Weapon choice includes the standard assault rifle and shotgun style weapon as well as some more interesting selections like plasma rifles and crossbows but some of the melee choices like the chainsaw seem a bit useless given the number of enemies that can use projectiles. However, it was the character appearance options that were a bit disappointing. Initially it seems as though you have a decent amount of choices as you can select from different heads, torsos, legs, and accessories. But after looking a little closer, the heads are basically the same few models with different hats and the other sections follow a similar pattern. Making a zombie pirate with aviator shades was amusing though, but this is one area where an expansion or add-on with additional customization options would help significantly.

Having decent shooting mechanics and a leveling progression system isn’t really anything new, so you may be wondering what else God Mode has to offer to keep you playing. It is at this point that the game really shines and the developers show off some ideas that showcase a bit of ambition. Each of the five maps has three selectable difficulty levels and players can choose Oaths before starting a match. Oaths act as handicaps, such as reducing the effectiveness of health pickups or reducing overall health, but they provide additional experience bonuses to those willing to take them on. There’s a decent sense of risk vs. reward at play here, and it helps to make the grind less tedious. But what I like the most are the Test of Faiths. On each section a level, when the player goes near the broken pillar to start a level a different Test of Faith is activated. These are essentially level modifiers, and range from silly effects like giving enemies top hats to randomized weapons and rapidly depleting health. Some of them are sure to infuriate players with the sudden spikes in difficulty, but for the most part I found that they provided much needed variation and ensured no single match was exactly the same.

Grinding the levels by yourself can get tedious, so God Mode remains a game best played with other people. The matchmaking system currently seems to be a bit hit or miss, as it is incredibly easy to invite/join a fresh match if one of your Steam friends owns the game but connecting with random players can take forever. There isn’t a good in-between option for searching for games, and instead it seems as though you’re left to rely on the game trying to find a game for you. I’ve also been unable to verify whether you can connect to a friend’s match in progress or not. Voice chat lag remains a bit of an issue but thankfully the first patch Old School Games put out this week changes the default option to push to talk rather than always on so you won’t be immediately greeted by microphone feedback when you connect to a lobby.

The graphics are one area of the game that came as a pleasant surprise, especially considering the cheap price point. While it won’t necessarily push a top of the line PC to its limits, the levels are quite detailed and their bigger size lends itself well to the chaotic gameplay. Character/enemy models boast a decent amount of detail as well and skeletons will lost their bones as you shoot through them. But while the graphical detail is decent what matters the most is how smooth the game plays. Even with four players and swarms of enemies on the screen God Mode’s engine doesn’t break a sweat and everything runs flawlessly. Initially the framerate was capped but it is now possible to modify via the config file for players who want to try to push past console limitations. I didn’t find this to be an issue though, as I was too busy being impressed by the level designs. Each area has a Greco Roman influence and the overall art design helps to make this title feel a bit different than your average shooter. There are still a few glitches, even after the first patch, where enemies will sometimes glitch or remain on-screen after they have died but this doesn’t happen that frequently.

Players are greeted by one of the most eccentric announcers I have heard in a video game in quite some time when they start, and this announcer also introduces the level and taunts the player when they die. Aside from that, most of the sound work that your attention will be focused on is the monster’s screams and weapon effects. The monsters all have unique noises that make it clear what’s attacking you, and the same is true of the guns. Some of the weapons did sound a bit weak, but it’s hard to nitpick on the sound work when you’ll be having trouble paying attention to it due to the chaotic gameplay. The same can be said of the background music, which fits the overall theme of the title but doesn’t necessarily have any tracks that really stand out.

God Mode remains a little rough around the edges, and could really benefit from some type of post-release content down the road to ensure it maintains a decent player base. But I have to admit that something clicked with the gameplay and I have found it a fun title to boot up for an occasional round or two. Just be sure that you’re okay with playing with strangers or have friends willing to buy it with you, as grinding solo will get old extremely quickly. Considering the $9.99 asking price, what this title is able to offer is a nice surprise and it’s worth a shot if you’re looking for a decent diversion in between some other games.

God Mode is rated M by the ESRB.

http://www.atlus.com/godmode/
http://store.steampowered.com/app/227480/

System Requirements:

Minimum:
OS:Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7
Processor:Intel Core2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2, 2GHz
Memory:2 GB RAM
Graphics:NVIDIA Geforce 8800 or ATI Radeon 2900 XT
DirectX®:9.0c
Hard Drive:5 GB HD space
Sound:Any DirectX compatible card

Recommended:
OS:Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7
Processor:Intel Core2 Quad or AMD Phenom X4 9950, 2.6GHz
Memory:3 GB RAM
Graphics:NVIDIA Geforce GTX 460 or ATI Radeon 5850
DirectX®:9.0c
Hard Drive:5 GB HD space
Sound:Any DirectX compatible card
Other Requirements:Broadband Internet connection

 

The Good

+ Solid shooting mechanics and progression system

+ Oaths add a nice balance of risk and reward

+ Tests of Faith ensure no match is quite the same

+ Graphics showcase surprising amount of detail for a $10 game


The Bad

- Menus not structured in way that guides new players to features easily

- Matchmaking is hit or miss

- Customization options come off feeling too limited

- Can become tedious during longer sessions

Verdict7

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