Crispy Gamer

Demigod

If it hasn?t been said before, it is official now: Gas Powered Games has a god complex. Okay, in this case it is a demigod complex, but the concept of playing with larger-than-life creations is becoming a habit.

It started small with Dungeon Siege, in which you played a character up to a godlike power status. Then came Supreme Commander, where super-units and massive commanders constantly dwarfed adversaries and allies alike. Now, their newest game is suitably titled Demigod, and in it players take on personas designed to ascend to the pantheon of gods if they defeat all their enemies.

Billed as a team-based action game, the game encompasses aspects of a fighting game as well as RPG and RTS elements. Demigod allows the player to take on the role of a massive unit where the sole objective is to destroy an enemy stronghold. The game pits player against player in massive, over-the-top arenas intended to dwarf even the largest demigod. Arenas range in scale from on-on-one combat to five-vs.-five, allowing up to 10 players in multiplayer mode, or you can play against the artificial intelligence.

Each demigod has a backstory and is of one of two classes: Assassins or Generals. Assassins are units with tremendous melee abilities that can be upgraded as the unit advances in level. Generals are units with auras designed to buff troops and structures.

Two of the units shown were The Rook, a huge assassin character with castles on its shoulders and a massive hammer that it can slam into the ground, blowing enemy ground troops to their deaths, and the Torchbearer, a smaller assassin character with both fire and frost abilities. In RPG fashion, these characters can gain levels, and upgrade abilities with each new level.

Where the RTS elements come in that that each demigod controls an army, builds support structures, and must collect gold. Gold can be used for structures or for the purchase of items that can increase the demigod?s abilities or aid it in battle. These support units and structures help defend the demigod?s base while also amassing an army to assault the enemy stronghold.

Demigods do not die. They are just removed from play for a certain time. The game does not end until the enemy stronghold is destroyed.

The graphics in the game, even for an early build, are very detailed. Some of the interface and units still have placeholder art, but the overall look of the arenas and demigod units that I saw were impressive. The game was demoed for us on a high-end Dell XPS gaming laptop and showed a reasonable frame rate, even with hundreds of units in combat. The game uses the Supreme Commander engine, so a player can scroll out to see the entire field of war or scroll in to check out key battles.

The game is slated for release in the fourth quarter of this year, so it still has some ways to go with optimization and some design decisions. The final number of demigods is still up in the air, as the developers are still trying to balance gameplay between general and assassin-styled demigods. The initial presentation was promising. Some could look at this and think it a fantasy version of Supreme Commander, but it appears the game will have enough new elements and features to allow it to withstand such scrutiny. I look forward to seeing a more polished build.

This preview was based on a publisher-driven demo of the game. The game is scheduled for release in late 2008.