Sometimes, it can be good to settle in with a game that attempts to do away with the hours of cutscenes and hundreds of pages of story scripts that most modern titles come bundled with, and just get down to the core of things. That’s what God Mode attempts to do, throwing the player directly into a third-person shooting fest that’s somehow reminiscent of God of War, Left 4 Dead, and Quake all at the same time.
Essentially, God Mode sets you the challenge of working your way through five different maps (or “mazes” depending on which prompt your reading on screen) with up to three other players online. You’ve got primary and secondary weapons, and each map is split into several stages, with the goal in each being simply to survive against a wave of enemies. Each of these stages comes complete with a randomly-selected modifier, which changes the gameplay for the duration of that stage. These “Tests of Faith” (as they’re monikered) can cause you to be equipped with unlimited munitions for the duration of a stage, or to be pitted against super-strong or super-weak opponents, for example. The change can be as minor as putting party hats on all of the enemies, or as major as causing bombs to rain down from the sky for the duration of the section.
Once you’ve made your way through each of the different parts of the map, and defeated the final boss, all four players are thrown into a room which is full of cash pickups. Friendly fire is on, and everyone has two minutes to fill their pockets. This money can then be used to purchase new outfits and weapons upgrades for future forays into the action.
Initially, the lack of any standard single player mode will be unsettling for some, with all of the menu options being geared toward multiplayer. You can jump into a quick match and set your party to “private” though, in order to play through on your lonesome. But to do that would be to rob the game of some of its charm. As with the aforementioned Left 4 Dead, it can be incredibly rewarding to run through a map with the full complement of four players, although the communication and teamwork required in God Mode falls some way short of Valve’s effort.
The reason for this is that – even on the “Gold” difficulty level – God Mode isn’t particularly difficult. It takes mere seconds to realise that blasting away whilst walking backwards in order to avoid attacks from onrushing enemies is the only tactic that you truly need. Even larger enemies and bosses don’t require all that much in terms of thought or tactics, and this means that when playing with a team of three random players, there’s just no need to coordinate your attacks or approach things in a unified way. More often than not, you’ll find that your colleagues are a cause of frustration – especially when your team is running low on lives (which are shared across all four players, interestingly) and you’re desperately low on health, and one of your teammates dives in front of you to grab the last remaining health boost on a level.
Graphically, God Mode is very, very pretty – up there with some of the best retail games, in fact. The Greek mythology theme works well, textures are sharp, bosses are impressively big, and everything runs really smoothly. This doesn’t really count for much though, given that there are indeed only five maps to run through. And this is very much the game’s Achilles heel. Once you’ve blasted through those five maps, the implication is that you’ll play through them again and again in order to level your character up and unlock new weapons and outfits. That’s a huge risk for the developers to take, given how many games are shouting for the average gamer’s attention these days. A lot of people will play through the maps once, maybe twice, and then not come back. When that happens, the number of players available for co-op play will drop through the floor, and the game will all but become a single-player experience.
For 800MSP, God Mode isn’t bad. Some great ideas thrown in with a step back to the purist shooting action possible are welcome, but there just isn’t enough game to be going on with. Most players will whip through the five maps on offer in just a couple of hours, and if the game doesn’t hook them entirely, that’ll be all she wrote.