Modern gaming on the Xbox 360 empowers the player so much; even more so with the dawn of Kindle control. Whilst most games are happy to put you in control of a super human bald space marine, Babel Rising gives you the greatest accolade of all and makes you a God. God games usually have you helping the denizens of Earth by building up civilisations and on occasion laying the smack down to any pesky people who step out of line. In Babel Rising you are an angry God who is enraged by the humans trying to build a tower tall enough to reach you. Rather than sweeping the tower away in one mighty push you partake is a Real Time Tower Defence game.
Babel Rising is a game that plays similarly across all the different modes; survival, campaign, co-op. You must use up to 4 sets of powers to slow down and kill as many humans as you can before they finish the tower. You have localised powers that take out one or two enemies, trail powers that can mow down a line, and super powers that bring devastation upon many. With the control pad, the powers are let loose by pushing the required buttons. With Kinect you will need to wave you hands around like a surprised ape.
The game plays so much better with the traditional control pad, the camera is easier to move and the powers far more precise. The Kinect feels far too loose and you end up missing as many enemies as hitting. Seeing as the game is the same difficulty with whichever control you choose it is almost an impossible challenge to win in the later levels if you use motion control. The gameplay itself does not differ; a heavy slog of killing wave after wave of enemies – it soon becomes boring, especially when levels can take 20 minutes to complete.
You may wonder why I have covered Kinect controls so early in the review. It is because I want you to digest the information and forget it – Kinect is not available to use in co-op. In fact, if you have your Kinect plugged in you will find the co-op mode pretty hard to find, it only appears when using the controller. Therefore, reset the 360, unplug the Kinect and start the game again. Now we can play co-op, but you will have to drill through the menus to find it – start game – multiplayer (which looks like versus only from the image) – co-op. The fact that searching for the mode is so cumbersome may give you a hint about the quality…
Combine thy powers
Babel Rising’s co-op mode is a splitscreen control pad only survival mode. You and a friend can choose between three types of level which have slight deviations on the same type of gameplay that dominates the solo modes. You must work together to try and slow down the humans as much as possible, therefore improving your survival time. The 4 major powers are split between the two players so that you must work in conjunction to get the best from them. Even on Easy the game is more manic than earlier single player missions, humans will ascend the tower from at least two directions and need constantly subduing – the best results will come with conversation and true co-operation.
However, the term co-operation is a little generous for this game. The constant threat of the human waves means that you spend most of your time panic killing, rather than discussing tactics. Perhaps with plenty of practice you will develop as a team, some powers do work well in conjunction, but the basic gameplay is so samey and boring that you may never learn to grow. How many times can you be bothered to mash the same four buttons over and over again for the slight reward of a longer survival time? It is the gameplay itself, and not the concept of co-op, that is the flaw with Babel Rising. What may be fun for 5 minutes on an iPad is not worth investing 20 minutes a go on 360.
As with so much in life, the co-op is better than the solo game types, for as long as it stays interesting. The split screen is clean and you can see plenty on your own half without feeling encroached upon. However, the fact that Survival is the only option available, and that become dull quickly, means that the co-op is a poor as the single player. More could have been done to improve co-op in the game – better linked powers, online service, and differing game types. You are left with a co-op mode that feels just like the Kinect controls – an afterthought. A relatively quick piece of coding added to a product to tick a bullet point on the box. We at Co-Optimus require a lot more from our co-op games if you think we are going to spend hard earned money on them.
Editor's Note: The Co-Optimus Co-Op Babel Rising was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.