Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done and thy shalt smite us if we build a massive tower and don’t praise you.
Many games let you play as anti-heroes or villains, but few let you play as God himself, who in Babel Rising is vengeful to the max as he sets out to destroy an entire civilization of non-believers. It seems that the population of earth have lost faith and have decided to build a great tower that will touch heaven itself; not happy with this God decides to stop this at whatever cost, killing hundreds of thousands of workers and priests as they make their way to the top of the tower, laying scaffolding and brick to create this mighty structure to reach the heavens.
Set up like a mixture of a God Sim and anti-Lemmings, as God you seek out to destroy all who cross your path with a plethora of environmentally based attacks. Starting with the bare structure of the tower, workers will begin trickling out of their tents, carrying materials to start building the tower which once they hit the end of the path, they drop their load and create an extra few meters to the structure; your aim as God is to stop them using four environmental powers, though you can only take two into the game with you, with each power having its own style that suits your gameplay. Each environmental power has been split into three forms of weaponry, each with their own rate of recharge. The simple powers allow for quick charge accurate shots like earth allows you to drop boulders from the sky with pinpoint accuracy, rain will temporarily slow down the precession of workers and fire will throw a flaming boulder into the paths of the non-believers. The second tier of powers enable you to spread the wrath of God over a larger area, taking out large groups of workers with walls of fire, freezing them solid until they explode or mini earth quakes, ripping the very earth up beneath them. The third tier of powers comes from using the basic powers, charging up an extremely powerful special move that once released will wipe most workers from the face of the tower, with meteor strikes, biblical floods, ferocious winds and a huge boulder that will roll down the side of the tower, crushing all in its path.
It is not just about hurling wrath at the little people as there is also an element of tactics as assisting the workers are priests that generate a bubble shield that protects them from specific powers; for example a red bubble shield will be safe from fire, which is easily rectified by using an alternative power to take them out. There are also cursed vases that the workers carry that if dropped and smashed will lock out that specific power for a short while. As the towers grow in stature the workers can also bring in small towers that allow them to enter the playfield further up the path, spawning workers and splitting your focus, but this is easily stopped with a few well-placed fireballs. Occasionally the game will take a short break and pan to the nearby coast, with you then hurling fireballs at incoming ships before they make it to the dock in a kind of missile defence clone mini game.
There are three towers to destroy, from the simple Tower of Babel to the more challenging duel road Great Ziggurat or even the Hanging Gardens. The game has been broken down into a couple of modes to keep all that smiting fresh, with a campaign mode acting mainly as a tutorial, showing you the basics of each power and worker and upping the difficulty steadily with each level you complete. Survival is exactly what you would expect, taking on either an easy or advance challenge in keeping one of the three towers in a state of disrepair for as long as possible. There is multiplayer but it is only local, however it is worth seeking out a second player as they are actually quite fun, with either a co-op mode with each player having use of two powers, allowing for some awesome combinations of powers. There is also a versus mode which can be timed or open until one of your fails, with players able to send even more workers to the opponents tower with combo kills.
Babel Rising has been created with the Move and Kinect in mind, although enjoyed the game the most by using just a simple, normal, controller. The Kinect is passable but will get frustrating at later stages of the game, leaving the Move as the more favourable motion controller.
From its iPhone origins, Babel Rising has transferred really well over to the big screen and is a welcome addition to the Xbox Live Arcade, offering quick pick up and play mechanics that will whittle away hours as you destroy thousands of non-believers.
Rating: Excellent Review Policy (version tested: XBLA/Xbox 360/Kinect)