Review: Babel Rising
When creating a game based around the feeling of absolute power that comes with divinity, it’s always hard to balance that power with a sense of challenge. Babel Rising attempts to straddle that gap, creating a god game that, while presenting the player with that feeling of power, places enough challenges in the player’s way that you have to think your way around problems, rather than just smashing everything to pieces. A well placed rainstorm will halt the ceaseless march of workers up the tower, and a carefully thought out tornado will send them all flying. Babel Rising quickly becomes a balancing act of tower sides, but sometimes it feels a bit too frantic for its own good, especially with a controller.
The game’s controls are simple regardless of input method, but when you’re managing multiple sides of a massive structure, moving around quickly can be a pain. The game lets you click in the stick on the controller to spin the tower to the other side, but standard movement feels imprecise and floaty. The cursor just doesn’t respond quickly enough to let you feel fully in charge of your movements. Of course, with a Move controller this problem instantly evaporates into the aether, leaving you the room to quickly take out problematic individuals without breaking a sweat. It proved especially useful in the dock sections of the main game, where you have to destroy as many ships as quickly as you can. With a controller, I was lucky to get three quarters of the blighters, but with a Move I got a clean sweep every time, which then fed back in to the tower sections in the form of less heathens to smite.
Smiting heathens often feels like the only thing you do in Babel Rising though. While destroying a mass of people with a rolling boulder is entertaining the first few times, it quickly stops feeling powerful and instantly becomes commonplace. You’ll find that some powers are more effective than others, and you’ll just end up using them over and over again in order to clear the levels as quickly as possible. The tornado is always excellent at clearing an entire level, and the super power version of wind, unlocked when you smite enough people, will keep a side of the tower clear for an entire 30 seconds, allowing you to focus on cleaning up the rest of the stragglers. Likewise, the water super power is downright overpowered. I understand that a flood is an entertainingly old testament way of taking care of business, but it just comes off as cheap when none of the other super powers have the same destructive effect. I suppose it balances out when you consider that half of your standard water power arsenal is defensive rather than offensive, but it still feels slightly cheap to drown the entire populace.
In terms of content, Babel Rising features a decent amount of single player levels, an entertaining if eventually boring wave based survival mode, and a fistful of local only multiplayer options. That last part stings a little bit more than the rest though. I would have relished the opportunity to play Babel Rising over the internet with people, as the concept lends itself so well to multiplayer action. The game even has a co-op component, which would have been amazing over online play. As such, Babel Rising’s multiplayer component quickly loses its lustre without fresh people to experience it with.
Babel Rising is entertaining for brief periods, but the lack of variety in its content makes it feel like an idea without sufficient room to be fleshed out. It would seem that Ubisoft is enjoying creating their one man god game renaissance, but Babel Rising feels like what the god from From Dust does when it’s had just about enough of those little pricks whining up at it. It’s that singular feeling of catharsis stretched to fit over an entire experience, and it just doesn’t have the breadth of ideas necessary to carry it for extended periods of time.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Smiting people in a variety of ways is incredibly entertaining
- Powers are varied enough to allow experimentation
- Move controls work well, and are as precise as you'd expect
What I Dislike:
- When using a controller, the game feels imprecise at times
- Hard to tell when people are reaching the summit on the larger towers
- The constant screams of dying workers