Much like a lot of people, the very mention of Hi-res Studios brings about excitement as my mind wanders to Tribes Ascend, a title that captivated my heart faster than a half-price prostitute, and in much the same way as said prostitute, it’s a title that fails to grow repetitive no matter how matter how many hours it steals from me. Despite being fully aware that Smite was going to be something in an entirely different ball park, I couldn’t stop myself from expecting a heart-stealing title that appealed to me as much as Tirbes. Unfortunately, as has been the case a lot recently, i came away disappointed as Hi-res instead offered a title harbouring gameplay a few inches shy of exciting, with not all that much to set it apart from the ever growing pool of unrecognisable titles.
My first impressions of the game after only one match were not really something I could describe as anything but average. The title as a whole felt as though it were unwanted love-child between Monday Night Combat and any modern day MMORPG with an art style just unique enough to make one question the legitimacy of the father. The game, much like MNC, is essentially a race to escort your minions through the turret ridden map in hopes of breaching the enemies base in order to destroy their tauren-esq god, and thus win the match. A usual enough title that we’ve seen work in a magnitude of ways before it, with varying levels of success.
The general Head-Up-Display and inventory system are the aspects of the game that I likened most to MMORPGs. With a dock of attacks in the bottom of your screen and a levelling system that works the way it does, the first impressions of the game are enough to make any reminisce of countless Summers spent on WoW. Regardless of your opinion on the endless games of the same genre, Smite takes it’s World of Warcraft likenesses no further than that and attempts to mingle the borrowed aspects into an usual broth that tastes somewhat what like a decent title, if not a little dry. Whatever Hi-res’s reason for constructing the makeshift MMORPG user interface, it’s undeniable awkwardness is enough to make me muse over why they went along with their plan in the first place. With a selection of available attacks that couldn’t possibly with restrained to the mouse buttons alone, I can almost understand the appeal of the dock, and yet despite it’s functionality I can’t help but feel that Smite would be much more at home with a standard and overused first or third person perspective with a scroll of attacks, as opposed to some misplaced bar of awkwardness.
Despite the stiffness of the interface and the ever curious perspective choice, Smite does succeed in coming across as addictive, if nothing else. Each match ends leaving the player wishing it’d go on for just that little bit longer and, although I could hardly say I was eager, I did find myself returning for further matches and actually found myself having to pull away from title with some reluctance. Although my initial displeased opinion of the title still lingered in my mind, I’d be lying were I to insist that the game is void of enjoyment, which is evident by my insistence on ‘one more match’ each and every time the previous game had come to a close.
It wasn’t until this moment that I actually realised I was playing alone and genuinely found myself wondering how much of an impact playing with friends would make on a title such as this. With my imagination desperately trying to make a mend on my disappointment thus far, fabricated images of intense and enjoyable gameplay flashed before my eyes, and as they did so, I have to admit, I found myself regaining my previous excitement. Evidently, I am naïve man. The multilayer did go some ways in offering something of worth to the game and for a second, I could have sworn I was almost enjoying it. This moment of genuine enthralment was short lived however, and I soon found out that rather than basking in the bliss of a great title I was mealy witnessing the contrast between the mundaneness of the title and the slightly more comforting banter between friends. Quickly losing its appeal, we found ourselves changing titles and actually felt although the games addictiveness, which was perhaps its most redeeming feature, was lost on us as we hastily abandoned the grey gameplay of Smite.
Offering an enjoyable roster of characters, all of which having been taken from the gods of old, such as Odin or Thor, Smite makes an obvious attempt to redeem itself with it grand diversity of recognisable characters, a lot of which I had a particular warming too beforehand. With each equipped with their own individual attacks and skills, Smite really does excel in making sure that there’s a character just right for the player, provided they’re willing to put just a bit into the micro-transitions pot down at Hi-res Studios. Recognised for particularly fair pricing and a distinct lack of ‘pay to win’, Hi-rez does manage to do what it did with Tribes and offers us worth while real-money-purchases that succeed in keeping any game fair, no matter how much either team might have spent.
Up until now I have only whispered of the games positive points and although there are few there is one rather substantial point that, although lost on me, would no doubt enthral others. Although something I find mindlessly boring, Smite has a single redeeming feature that I imagine would fully captivate an audience and that is the fact that although monotonous, the gameplay is unwavering and gives the impression of a title that once accepted will forever offer a reliable game. With an ever interesting visual aesthetic, a huge selection of characters, a great arsenal of skills and solid gameplay that’s unreliant on gimmicks, Smite is a title that you won’t grow tired of over time, provided you get get over the initial monochromatic hurdle.
As you have no doubt gathered by now, Smite is a game that I find particularly dry and hard to swallow, and although it is not fundamentally a bad game, it’s monochromatic mechanics are wall that I cannot manage to breach. Should one manage to find a door though what I found to be an impenetrable barrier, Smite will no doubt be a title that will hold your interest for longer than most games and continue to offer you the same standard of gameplay from day one. Although my ramblings are clearly one sided, I do feel although a substantial fan base will hail the game a staple and revisit the title for months in succession, forever reaping whatever it was they found so captivating in the first place.
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