Gods of Rome Review
Mythology has been a favorite subject of mine since I was a kid in school in the early 80’s. Gods of Rome has been out for iOS for a while, but was just recently released on the Apple TV. I wanted to play the game on my iPad Pro, but there was no controller support and I just cannot use touchscreen controls, so when it was released for Apple TV with controller support, I immediately grabbed my Nimbus controller and got to work.
Right from the get-go I was drawn into the atmosphere as the visuals and music stunned me into thinking, “Wow, this is a game that shows off the power of the Apple TV.” Granted, the Apple TV can be categorized as an iPhone without a touchscreen, but I think of it as a console and games like Gods of Rome are what it needs to eventually succeed as a gaming system. Here’s my review.
There’s no way around it, Gods of Rome is an absolutely gorgeous game and Gameloft has done something not seen much on such a small device. The fighters look amazing and the environments are lush, dark and captivating all at the same time while lending themselves very well to the Mythological theme they portray. But there is something else stuffed into the game that caught me by surprise very quickly. The emotion conveyed on the faces and through the smooth animation of the fighters is very impressive and believable. For example, the post-fight sequence for Medusa closes in on her face while she opens her eyes and portrays a very realistic depiction of how she feels after winning the match. The Minotaur breaths heavy showing the air quickly blowing from his nostrils and becomes more and more aggressive until he leans back to let out a deep, primal scream complete with a wind effect coming from his mouth. Very convincing and immersive to say the least.
The animation is quick and silky smooth all the while giving you a sense of frantic action that gets the heart pounding, especially in multiplayer. Many of the characters have outstanding cloth effects and other materials that look as realistic as can be expected from a system like the Apple TV. But they are done so well that there are times I forgot I was playing on such a small device. Spread out onto my large LED TV, the visuals bring the entire theme to life before your eyes. You’ll have a hard time finding fault in the characters themselves. Believable and lifelike is what Gameloft have served up for players with Gods of Rome.
The arenas are done well also. Along with fitting the Mythology theme, they have nice, fluid animations and effects that really add to the matches. You won’t find a lot of interaction with the backdrops themselves besides smashing your opponent into the various objects contained at each side of the arena. But this can only be achieved if you are in that corner and hit them hard enough to get a knockout. Depending on what arena you are in, it might break a hole in a rock and send debris flying out or smash a wooden structure allowing some vases, wood and other props to fall over. It’s quite satisfying to accomplish this, but it can happen quite often and grows old fairly quickly leaving you wishing there was a bit more interaction possible.
All in all, the visuals contained within Gods of Rome are spectacular on the Apple TV and it gives me hope that other companies will see what Gameloft have done in this department and try to emulate or even better it.
Another space in which Gods of Rome shines is in the audio department. Ambient sounds are within the arenas themselves can be heard before the matches, but during the match you’ll hear somewhat the usual fare when it comes to fighting games. While the fighters do not actually speak during the game, the sounds they make are convincing and get the job done quite nicely. It’s everything you would expect in a game in this genre. Grunts and screams convey a sense of agony or aggressiveness and the effects coming from the clanging of weapon to shield and foot to face are done very well.
But, for me, the best audio in the game comes in the form of the games score. It’s fantastic! It not only matches the theme and deepening feeling of dread, but it’s beautifully done too. There may not be many actual songs contained within the game, but the ones that are there create a much more ominous or even heavenly environment, depending on what is happening or where you are in the game.
At first, I was a bit concerned about what I was experiencing when the actual fighting would take place. I felt like the one round nature of the game was creating matches that were too quick and my first thought was, “Why don’t we have a more structured, best of three, setup like many other fighting games on the market?” But after playing for a bit, it became clear that the matches would become more and more intense, calling for more strategic thought and thus making the matches last a little longer. Once I let myself open up to the quicker nature of the matches, I was addicted. It was a lot of fun seeing how far I could go before I had to upgrade characters or figuring out how to beat certain opponents with the fighters that are best suited to them.
The animation is smooth and there isn’t really any slowdown to speak of. But there is something that bothered me a little while playing Gods of Rome. There’s no jump button. That was a disappointment for me personally. I think the matches would be much more dynamic if the jump mechanic was included. But in all honesty, it’s fairly easy to forgive this as the game was originally released on mobile devices where simplicity in mechanics was key and then ported over to the Apple TV. If we are lucky enough to get a sequel in the series for the Apple TV, maybe this will be included.
There are 3 modes of play in Gods of Rome. The first is the campaign, which is long and rewarding, though a bit repetitive as many fighting games can be. To complete levels to 100%, you will find yourself fighting the same characters over and over again many times trudging the same path to get to what little part you need to play to completely finish the level. There are four Acts comprised of smaller parts. Completing a level produces rewards and completing an Act does the same. You will find yourself receiving a lot of rewards and it is best to use them when you can. When your inventory is full, your items get put into storage where they will remain for 30 days. After that 30 days, they will be lost forever. Claiming those rewards from storage and using them is vital to competing in higher levels. There are levels in which you need certain fighters to be able to pass certain areas, so make sure you pay attention to what fighters you choose.
The Events mode will help you to earn rare fighters and Nectar while also providing you with many rewards for your time and skill. It is set up much like the campaign missions, though you can receive better rewards for your hard work.
The Multiplayer mode consists of one on one (1v1) which is pretty self explanatory and three on three (3v3) which pits three of your fighters against three fighters from an opponent. This dynamic creates a strategy aspect to Gods of Rome that is welcomed in my opinion. Matching up fighters is key to gaining an advantage.
The gameplay is fast and frantic. Smooth and fluid. And beautiful too.
Gods of Rome is a Free to Play game and there are quite a few hours to be played without paying a cent for the game. But as with many other F2P games, you may have to wait for fighters to cool down before you can use them again in multiplayer or you may run out of lightning power and have to wait for it to replenish unless you are willing to drop some cash in the game. Gaining characters can be done also without paying actual money, but if you want to get up to speed quickly, you might want to consider spending a bit of that hard earned cash.
Gods of Rome is well worth the download and in my opinion, worth dumping some money into if you want to get some really good characters right from the start. But that is a choice that individual players will have to make.
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