After Halfbrick successfully turned the mobile hit Fruit Ninja into the outstanding Fruit Ninja Kinect, the expectations were high for a wave of smart smartphone-to-Kinect crossovers. Doodle Jump Kinect is on the way (apparently), but that and this new edition Babel Rising seem to be the long and the short of the rush. Some would say that’s a good thing, given how this one has panned out.
Babel Rising is a game of violent micro-management and god-like vengeance. The settlers are trying to build different towers of Babel, and you have to prevent them from doing so by utilising your godly powers. You can use fire, water, wind and earth attacks to get the job done, pretty much destroying the hapless workers using whatever combinations you can – Old Testament style. One hand controls your aiming reticule, while the other delivers the pain. Switching between your different elemental powers is done either by clapping your hands, or yelling out. During play, you can accumulate stronger one-shot attacks, which are triggered by throwing your hands in the air. Of course, the fact that you control the camera with your hands as well, and that throwing your hands into the air causes the camera to go absolutely nuts, is a prime example of why Babel Rising isn’t all it should be.
There just isn’t a great deal of thought, here. The smartphone game was great fun but at almost every turn, this Kinect edition has problems. A lot of the time, you’ll find that voice commands have to be repeated several times, or that clapping your hands to switch powers only works at the third attempt. And then there’s the gameplay, which does become fast and frantic later on – we promise – but for the first hour, is very, very, very slow. The tutorials that show you how to play the game are soul-destroyingly sloth-like, with some requiring you to kill twenty people from one character class, for example. That would be fine, but when they only appear once every thirty seconds, the game starts to drag somewhat. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that for 90% of players, it’ll kill it stone dead.
Babel Rising takes far too long to get going and when it does, the controls mean that the more hectic levels just weren’t worth the wait. An unfortunate exercise in frustration.