Atari ST User: GODS Review

They won the war of the shoot-'em-up, they were triumphant in the arena of future sports, they even conquered the lands of the graphic adventure. Surely the Bitmap Brothers couldn't take top slot in the world of platform games?

Gods is based in Greek mythology. As the hero of the game it is your task to complete a series of levels defeating all manner of bloodthirsty beasts as you go. The action takes place within a walled city built by the gods as a playground, but unfortunately, while the gods' attention was diverted the city was invaded by a horde of evil monsters.

Naturally the divine beings were none too impressed by the intrusion and decided to use their powers to dispose of the pests. The creatures, however, had other ideas and seemed to have powers like that of the gods.

So to fight their battles the gods called upon the world's greatest warriors to invade the city and defeat the besieged army. As a reward the celestial beings offered any man the chance of joining them as an immortal. Only by ridding the city of monsters can you win the prize. Many have attempted the task, none have succeeded. Now it's your turn.

The Bitmap Brothers are reknowned for their excellence and their professionalism. Gods proves no exception. The graphics are up to the usual high standard and the sound, performed by Nation 12 (Jon Foxx of Ultravox), is equally excellent. However, it's the gameplay that really makes the game great.

A degree of artificial intelligence is involved. For instance, one of the first puzzles sees you collecting a stone pot. The game's message bar informs you that you must deposit it in a storeroom. Many players will find this task relatively simple. However, novices may need a little help and the game will assist slow learners with extra hints.

Not only does the game give hints, it also introduces more intelligent monsters to challenge skilled players. And in addition to helping the less able, the game rewards obvious talent. If you manage to reach the end of the first stage within a certain time limit, you'll be rewarded with an extra goodie.

There are four levels, each progressively more difficult. The first section of the game eases the player into the action, teaching him various strategies. The rather large end-of-level guardians can prove to be a real challenge. If you defeat a guardian and thus complete a level, you'll be given a password which allows you to start at that point next time you play.

As you progress through the game you'll encounter various monsters and traps. The former may be despatched in the timehonoured tradition while the latter need more devious thought. Killing creatures yields precious gems that boost your wealth. Other items such as keys, power-ups and new weapons are also collected and used.

At some stage you'll no doubt encounter the shopkeepers. Like the galactic salesmen found in Xenon 2, these fellows carry an impressive arsenal. Providing you have enough cash you can buy all sorts of deadly goodies. These range from simple extra lives and energy restoratives to homing fireballs and spears.

Perhaps the most deadly weapon is your familiar. Assuming the shape of an eagle, this beast flies around the screen taking out many of the maurading meanies.

Gods is another first-rate Bitmap Brothers game. All the features are there, the great sound, brilliant graphics and outstanding gameplay. It's a challenge for players of all abilities.

The joystick controls do prove to be a little unresponsive at first. However, once conquered the overall gameplay is brilliant and will have you coming back for more.

If I have any criticism it would be of the final sequence. That, however, is another story - you'll have to discover it for yourself!

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