STAFF REVIEW of God Mode (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Monday, April 29, 2013.
by Adam Dileva

God Mode Box art IDDQD. If you’re and old school gamer, you’ll know that this was THE code for God Mode back in the day. Here we are twenty years later and now God Mode has graduated from a code that enabled you to become unstoppable to a game of its own filled with tons of running and even more gunning. God Mode is all about shooting down dozens and dozens of enemies while you collect money and experience and work towards character and weapon customization while playing along with three other friends. Essentially God Mode will pit you against hordes of mythical and undead creatures in a package that is mindless fun… for a while.

The story in God Mode is thin and won’t have you caring at all why you’re playing, but there is an underlying storyline here for those that do care. You’re dead and to avoid being stuck in purgatory, you need to fight your way out of the Mazes of Hades against unrelenting waves of creatures to do so. That’s about it, but let’s be honest, you’re going to be playing God Mode for the chance to shoot hundreds of baddies, not for the thinly veiled plot.

God Mode is essentially a hybrid of Horde mode from Gears of War and Firefight from Halo ODST, though there’s nowhere near the amount of strategy needed here. God Mode is simple in premise; shoot everything that moves. That’s it. Enemies won’t really give you much trouble once you learn the mechanics and basics and all you’ll need to do is hold down the trigger button for the most part and strafe from side to side. Being a third person shooter with an emphasis on crazy frantic action, expect a straight forward concept with some fun, albeit short lived, fun.

Killing enemies nets you valuable experience and gold; the bigger and badder the enemy, the more you’ll gain. This experience helps you to level up which allows you to purchase higher level weapons and upgrades for your weapons, outfit aesthetic options, and abilities with the gold you’ve acquired. You’ll start off with only a SMG and Shotgun but there are a ton of other weapons you can purchase later on when you reach the required level to unlock them for purchase like the Railgun, Buzzsaw, Machine Gun, and more. Weapons can be upgraded for bigger magazines, higher accuracy, and more damage with gold as well. You also can unlock new abilities as you level up and even upgrade those as well, making God Mode a much more fun experience once you gain enough strength and money to do so.

With only a handful of missions to play, essentially maps, you’re going to have to enjoy repetitive gameplay if you want to keep playing God Mode for the long haul. Each mission is a set static event, meaning that all the enemies you see will spawn in the exact place every time and it’s always the same enemies at preset times. Where the variety in gameplay comes is in the randomized Tests of Faith in each smaller section of the missions. These Tests of Faith are randomized game modifiers that can make the section in the mission dramatically tougher or simpler, or odder. Sometimes these mutators will cause friendly fire to toggle on, make enemies tougher and larger, give everyone unlimited ammo (my personal favorite), damage you if you leave the alter’s range, change your weapon every so often, make enemies small, make the sound messed up, or even have all enemies wear party hats. It’s completely random and that’s where the real fun comes in. I just wish the maps themselves were more random, as I can play one of the maps with my eyes closed due to the amount of times I’ve played it, and while yes the modifier can change how I play, outside of a few of the more specific ones, it doesn’t affect gameplay all too drastically.

Once you level up a bit, upgrade your weapons and abilities, you might be looking for more of a challenge. There are Bronze, Silver, and Gold modes to play on, with the higher difficulties netting more experience and gold, but it’s still the same maps you’ve played already on Bronze. These are where Oaths come in and allow for more challenge and rewards. Oaths are like Halo’s skulls, toggling different personal modifiers like no shields, less ammo on pickups, dealing less damage, and more. Each Oath toggled on will give you bonus experience and gold for mission completions. You’ll want to be playing with friends that cooperate well when you’re trying to play with multiple Oaths turned on though, as you can become overwhelmed quite quickly when you’re not at 100% character strength.

Complete a whole mission and you’ll be granted a short amount of time to gather as much gold as you can possibly find. The catch is that friendly fire is turned on during this brief romp and can become frustrating if there’s someone with a very powerful weapon killing you when you simply want to collect gold.

I really enjoyed God Mode for the first few hours, as I was trying to level up to purchase better weapons and make things easier for me to level up even further. Problems started to appear once I got the hang of everything though and I realized how easy it was for someone to mess up your gaming experience if they wanted to. Firstly, there’s nothing stopping you from jumping right to the Silver or Gold difficulties right away, so someone brand new to the game can join you running Gold matches and very quickly waste all of your shared lives, causing you to fail the mission in a short amount of time. One match I had a random guy leave his controller and his character just standing there, getting killed multiple times. Playing the harder missions with someone that isn’t as upgraded or simply as good is incredibly frustrating, and while it’s not always their fault, playing on Gold matches with people that still have default weapons is no fun either.

God Mode is all about pure simple arcade action that never takes itself seriously. It favors gameplay action over substance and that’s not always a bad thing, as sometimes you just want a mindless shooter for a brief period. That being said, the gameplay itself is incredibly shallow, which isn’t helped by the fact that the missions themselves are static with the Tests of Faith being the only changing dynamic every time you play. You need to pick your weapons before a match and you can’t pick up any other weapons (unless you get the specific Test of Faith that randomizes the one in your hand). It probably isn’t helped by the fact that the majority of the guns sound very bland and don’t feel very powerful at all (until they are fully upgraded). The best guns are going to take you awhile to unlock, as you’ll need to sink in quite a few hours to level up enough to purchase them. While this progression system isn’t a bad thing, there’s no carrot constantly dangling in front of you to motivate you to keep on playing for the most part once you get what you’ve been saving up for.

There are a lot of bugs though, and even more lag at times.On three separate occasions I had to completely back out to the dashboard because either the game froze or half of my team weren’t able to attack any of the enemies running in place, thus losing our gained experience and money for that mission. That being said, when you get a team of four together that play well and focus, God Mode becomes blast to play and well worth he price of admission (800 Microsoft Points).

With missions being exactly the same every time, save for the Tests of Faith, it’s inevitable that you’re going to become bored of the game in time. You’re going to eventually play the maps enough times that you’ll know them off by heart, to the point that when you get the dense fog modifier, it won’t really affect you all that much since you know what’s going to happen enemy wise. God Mode’s biggest downfall is its lack of variety, which is odd to say, since every match tries to play different every time, but playing a mission for the fiftieth time, you won’t be fooled, despite which Test of Faith is activated. It’s straight forward, has an amusing narrator (for a short while), and can be recommended if you want a simple shooter for some mindless fun in short bursts. I hope there are plans for DLC that adds more maps and weapons, as I’m already tired of what’s included in the base game itself. I wish God Mode had more longevity, though maybe I played too long at once, as I really wanted some of the higher level weapons, and now I feel that there’s nothing else worth playing for.

Overall: 6.3 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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