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Gods (Classic Game)

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    2 Reviews
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      17.02.2011 10:19
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      A fine moment from the Bitmap Brothers

      Released by the Bitmap Brothers across multiple gaming platforms in 1991, this stood head and shoulders above a raft of standard, 2D platform games. The Bitmap Brothers, in case you've never heard of them, were one of the most well-respected games development houses of the time, and were released some very good games. 'Gods' is a very slickly executed game, which was very impressive given the technology available at the time, and is still worth a quick look if you like a bit of retro gaming.

      Set in mythological Ancient Greece, you are put in the role of Heracles on a quest to defeat the challenges of Mount Olympus and attain immortality. Split over four worlds which each have their own distinctive architecture and enemies, the player must defeat the four guardians in order to do this. The gameplay is very simple, with controls for movement, attack and activate. Puzzles play quite a big part, with an easy inventory system to hold puzzle items which need to be found and used in the correct locations. And as with every platform game, there are the usual switch/moving block puzzles, but it doesn't overly rely on these.

      Treasure can be found, either dropped from killed enemies, or in bonus treasure rooms and locked chests. Occasionally you will encounter a trader, where you can spend your loot on extra weapons and power-ups to aid your mission. The weapons available rise with power as you find them, and you'll need them as the enemies become more powerful.

      What set this game apart from its contemporaries was the quality of the programming and attention to detail. The graphics, which were well-drawn depictions of Ancient Greece, with columns and facades lovingly reproduced to give the locations atmosphere. Some, though not all, the creatures are clearly inspired by the Greek setting as well, with harpies, a dragon, minotaurs and a giant hoplite in their number. The others are unidentifiable alien-looking things, which is a bit disappointing as there are loads of creatures that would have been good to model them upon. The animations are slick, and the collison detection is good so there are no annoying bugs like falling through the scenery or problems loading between rooms.

      The AI was also revolutionary for the time. The game would gauge how well you were performing, and would have the monsters attack more aggressively if you were doing well, or ease off if it thought you were struggling. Different enemies had different patterns of engaging with the player, and wouldn't just rush dumbly at the player like so many other games. Some exercised caution and would retreat, others would attack in packs and pursue. Most impressive is the 'thief' enemy, which would steal important objects from the player, and would occasionally be needed in puzzle solving. This is not to say that it ever becomes easy - this is an old-school game with no savegame function, employing the now-archaic password system to access levels. Trial and error, and patience, are required here!

      The sound effects were crisp and well recorded, and not intrusive or annoying with little repetition. The soundtrack is probably the best part of this game, composed by former Ultravox leader John Foxx, under the guise of Nation 12. The moody electronic theme, overdubbed with choral effects, suits the action well and is very memorable - the main theme, 'Into the Wonderful', can be found on the Nation 12 album 'Electrofear'.

      If you're interested in tracking this down, ebay is your best bet. It was released on the PC, Archimedes, Amiga, SNES and Megadrive, amongst a few others, so if you have one of these platforms then it's worth a look. It turns up every now and again for a few quid. You may have trouble getting it to run on modern PCs too, I've not tried to run a copy on Windows XP or later.

      Yes, it's 20 years old, but has a place in the history of the development of games, most notably for its AI. I loved this as a kid, and it inspired me to buy a copy of 'The Iliad'. Now who says games can't be educational, eh?

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      • More +
        20.04.2002 20:13

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        Not a God Game - Advantages: Platform, Fun - Disadvantages: Platform, Short-ish

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