The XBLA Summer of Arcade has begun, but right before it did, Babel Rising snuck in. The Summer of Arcade titles are usually the ones the Microsoft puts their stamp of approval on as quality titles. Because of the proximity in release dates you might be confused into thinking Babel Rising is among them, but don’t be, because it isn’t and it shouldn’t be. Let’s explore why.
Babel Rising is another Kinect-centric XBLA title that Microsoft is pushing in the hopes of bolstering their Kinect line-up. However, unlike Wreckateer, Babel Rising also offers the option of using controllers to play the game. But surprisingly, I would recommend against the controller route.
The gameplay is simple enough. There’s a giant tower in the center of a map, and small workers are attempting to construct it up to the heavens. You, as a wrathful gods have to stop them by smiting them in their tracks. This involved stopping them from reaching the point where construction needs to take place, because each worker that does, adds a little to the construction.
You accomplish this through the use of your godly powers, which are separated into the four standard elements. Each element has two attacks, and a special attack you can charge by using the basic attacks. In Kinect mode, you aim where you want to attack with your right hand and trigger attacks with your left. You trigger the power attacks by raising both hands when they charged, after having selected a target. You also have to switch elements by clapping your hands, this allows you to switch attack types. The controls take some getting used to but are actually quite intuitive once you’ve gotten the hang of them.
When you first start off the game can be rather fun. You get top choose 2 elements to use on each level, though you will start off with only Earth. As you progress you unlock more elements, but the workers unlock priests. These priests have elemental immunity to one element, so you’ll have to make sure to switch elements often.
Needless to say, raining fire and wind and floods on small little characters can be a blast, but it also grows old fast. That’s where the problem lies. Babel Rising is a slow paced and monotonous game. Each level seems to drag on forever, with simplistic tasks like, kill so many workers or priests. The enemies then proceed to slowly appear and make a climb, and you proceed to go through the motions of wiping them out. It’s extremely simple to do and devolves into nothing more than tedium after the first few levels.
The difficulty does increase, but when it does, the gameplay is largely the same. Except for cursed Urns which turn the game into an exercise in frustration by disabling your powers. All of a sudden that tedious level becomes a nightmare of never ending, slowly dragging repetition.
Babel Rising had a great concept, and fairly decent execution. However, a lack of variety, proper pacing and imagination stifle the game. It quickly devolves into a repetitive and monotonous chore. It might be good for a bit of quick fun with friends, but even then the pacing is likely too slow to keep people invested in it. The controller doesn’t help, and the Kinect controls are likely the only thing that a small bit of fun to the gameplay.