Anti Tower Defence
I've experienced a lot of Babel Rising over the last week. Not only have I been playing the Android version on Xperia Play and the iOS version on the iPhone, but I've also been smiting many villagers on PS3 with the Move controller.
Which makes this review interesting and the conclusion fairly surprising, especially if you've already read my PS3 review over on The Joypads. But lets wind back a little and start at the beginning.
Babel Rising is based on the Biblical Tower of Babel story. It puts you in the (fairly substantial) boots of God, though we don't get to see any giant hands or long flowing beard. As this is Old Testament stuff, being God involves a bit of rough justice and being rather peeved about a group of villagers trying to build a tower to Heaven puts you in a right bad mood. Thus, plenty of smiting is called for to stop this building malarky and get those villagers respecting you once again.
The main game mode here is the campaign, which takes you through a quick bunch of tutorial levels before letting you loose on the village. It's here that you'll learn the powers of the elements; Water, Fire, Earth and Air. These all have two attack methods, a small attack such as launching boulders from the skies or setting someone on fire, to the larger attacks like a firewall or earthquake . The smaller attacks take a much shorter time to recharge, so they tend to be used most often, but the Water based attack is less useful, making it rain on villagers to slow them down.
Let the attack gauges (shown by circles in the top left of the screen) build up and the power becomes stronger. Use all the powers enough and they begin to glow, allowing you to set off an Ultimate power, causing mass devastation to both the people and the tower. It's great fun to sit back and watch this in action, though it's often less clear when this power has become available thanks to the nature of the icons.
The campaign has a wide variety of missions, from timed levels to killing a certain number of workers. The timed missions are also given their own space in Survival Mode, which gives the game quite a bit of longevity after you finish the campaign and works well given the game's setup.
Adding priests in to the mix allows the game to ramp up the difficulty. These men of the cloth are immune to certain elements and will shield other workers while they're nearby. Smiting them with the other element will put a stop to their work, though.
Graphically, Babel Rising can match its console counterpart and get away with far more because it's on a smaller screen. On the consoles it's pretty clear that the villagers aren't very well defined, but here they look fine, with just the right level of animation to show what they're up to and some really cute noises as they run around on fire or get picked up by a whirlwind.
Another area where this mobile version scores big is the control method. While the controller on the PS3 (and the Xbox version if the demo is anything to go by) is fiddly and Move on PS3 is ok, the touchscreen on Android and iOS is perfectly suited to a bit of smiting. Simple swipes move you around the 3D area and a quick press on an element will select it before trying it out on some hapless builder. Both the iOS and Android games are near identical too, there's very little to choose between them.
Babel Rising shows that sometimes bigger isn't better in that it works far better on a mobile platform than it does on consoles. It can still get a bit repetitive at times, but when 5 minutes of smiting can calm the nerves, it's worth the sacrifice.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 7
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