Sometimes, the simplicity of gaming yesteryear creeps up in a nostalgic bid for our gaming dollars. Sadly, the experience is often attached to buyers remorse – either because the experience was inaccurate, or because the experience was far too genuine and we realize our memory of the game is shrouded by our younger impression. It isn’t unique to games: consider re-watching Air Wolf.
Enemies are, in line with the story and art, interpretations of Greek mythology – the monsters include harpies, cupids, minotaurs, skeleton legionnaires and cyclops. The combat itself is almost lifted right from Serious Sam – third-person shooting with hordes of enemies of varying types swarming at you. Equipped with two upgradeable weapons, a melee attack and a rage-meter power-up, you’ll wade through wave after wave of monsters earning both gold and experience.
The status quo for modern shooters is that the incentive of multiplayer is leveling up and gaining access to new goodies, be they weapons, power-ups or even new threads. God Mode didn’t miss the boat on this, and has included almost a dozen unlockable weapons each with their own upgrades. Your rage meter power-up can be swapped out from the initial shield to eight other abilities that range from a healing aura, to bonus rewards all the way up to the “God Mode” where, for a brief period of time you’ll become invincible. Clothing and accessories are also available to swap. I must admit they are a bit lacking, and are, for the most part, a rehash of of the lower level items.
Though graphics are great for an XBLA title, at the beginning of each map there is a period of time where you see all the textures and bump-mapping popping in, and there were several occurrences of physics issues. The voice acting of the Spirit Guide is appropriately sardonic and taunting, though there are definitely some repeat phrases that should have been caught in testing. God Mode is geared to reward players of higher level, and until you get there expect to spend a bit of time feeling frustrated. In combat when a monster is killed, the person with the killing blow gets the credit – it drives competition, but it would have been nice to see this as a selectable option when establishing a session.
Griping aside, Old School Games delivers an experience that marries modern expectation with classic retro shooters. At its heart God Mode is a fairly well-balanced game, with a surprising “one more time” appeal, if you can accept the low level grind. The cost of entry is low, and even though there are no announcements of DLC the game can certainly entertain you for more than a couple hours. This is especially true if you’re interested in unlocking and upgrading your arsenal. There is a demo available on XBLA, so if you haven’t tried this 800 point game I’d recommend giving it a go. It’s not a large sprawling Serious Sam encounter with a noteworthy single player campaign, but it certainly changes things up enough to keep you coming back for more.