Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be God and smite puny humans? If you have, then Babel Rising is a game for you. Based on the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel, in which humans united to build a tower to reach the heavens and be closer to God, Babel Rising allows you to unleash your fury on the presumptuous Babylonians by harvesting the power of the elements. You must stop them from building their tower at all costs, because you’re God, and why the hell not?
In the game, you use power of the four elements – earth, wind, fire and water – to stop the humans from building the tower. On each level you are allowed to use two of these, and each has three attacks: a trail power, a local power and an ultimate power. Local powers include dropping rocks on top of the humans, or creating a raincloud to slow a group down. Trail powers allow you to sustain your attack, creating a long wall of fire, or a tornado to throw enemies off the structure. Ultimate powers are charged by using the basic elemental assaults, and consist of very powerful attacks such as creating a tidal wave to flood the level or making it rain fireballs. The idea is to sustain multipliers by using different powers in combination to get the best score possible.
You can manipulate the game by either using a standard controller or by using Kinect. When using the ordinary control pad, aiming is handled with LS, the camera can be moved around the tower with RS, and you powers are unleashed by using the ABXY buttons. The game displays which powers are mapped to which buttons during play, and there are also hints enabled throughout (though you can turn these off). It is best to first play with the controller so you get used to the different powers at your fingertips. When playing with Kinect, you use one hand to aim while the other is used to attack depending on which you choose as your targeting hand from the get-go. Clapping your hands switches your element, as does voice command but this never seemed to work whenever I tried. Actually, not a lot seemed to work when using Kinect.
Whenever I wanted to use one attack where you pushed your left hand down, it would work about 50% of the time. The rest of the time, the game would tell me that one of my arms wasn’t straight or that I was doing it incorrectly, but gave me no indication of what I needed to do to fix the motions. I must also mention that when unleashing the ultimate power you aim with you right arm, bring your left arm over your head to trigger the attack, and once it had been (supposedly) locked on to the desired location, you bring both arms above your head and then down to start the attack. However, when doing this a few times, the aim seemed to un-lock and my attack ended up in the background of the game where it did no damage whatsoever. Nevertheless, I must add that playing with Kinect makes the game a lot more fun. It really feels like you are almighty God smiting the peasants beneath you.
The campaign levels have objectives that you must achieve in addition to the main goal of ensuring the tower doesn’t get built. Once the task for the level is complete, the humans stop building the tower and tremble in fear at your awesome power. These objectives include destroying a certain amount of humans, surviving a set number of waves or for a specific length of time and sinking ships on their way to port. These levels get progressively harder, and the structures change, adding multiple points of ingress requiring players to rapidly rotate the camera around the tower. There is also a single player survival mode in which you must survive waves of enemies for the longest time possible before they complete their work.
In addition to the single player campaign, there are three types of local multiplayer modes available, all using a vertical split screen. “Battle of the Gods” involves two players defending their own tower. Scoring multipliers makes more difficult waves of humans appear to build the other player’s tower. “Score Battle” does what it says on the tin. Each player has his/her own tower and must try to score the most points in either 5, 10 or 15 minutes. If a player’s tower gets built before the time is over, they will automatically lose regardless of score. “Cooperation” mode splits the four elements between the two players. The idea is to survive as long as possible. These are nice additions to the game, but online capability would have been a nice feature.
The music in the game gets quite repetitive when playing for sustained periods of time, and it isn’t anything exciting either; just chanting. Although this is true, the sound effects are brilliant and make killing the enemies much more fun.
Overall this game is a great concept, but considering it is supposed to be Kinect focused it did not succeed. The majority of the time I spent playing was with a controller. The motion controls did not work well enough, and no doubt if they were more precise, I would be giving it a better score. Perhaps with a future update, the game will function as intended, be less frustrating and more fun.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.