Babel Rising is an arcade game loosely based on the story of the Tower of Babel; it is developed by Mando Productions and published by Ubisoft for XBLA and PSN; containing Kinect and Move support respectively. The game is a console version of the popular iPhone game; it lets you take control of God as you kill humans as you prevent them from constructing the Tower of Babel.
As God, you have control over the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water. You will use these in your quest to halt all construction of towers that reach into the heavens. To begin with you will only have to smite a few workers with a single element but as you progress in the campaign you unlock other elements and face new challenges.
The game plays similarly to a tower defence game, in that you must fend off waves of enemies but that’s about as far as the similarities run. The workers will build up the tower and once they have completed it you lose. Workers can be taken out easily by your various powers but they find new ways to protect themselves.
Priests are introduced early on; they have large auras which protect the workers from the element the aura corresponds with. Cursed jar bearers will bring jars up the tower before dropping them off. If you break a jar, then whichever spell caused it will be unusable for a short time. There are also construction towers that appear from time to time which dispense workers at a higher position, letting them start further up the tower. Destroying these towers quickly is essential to keeping yourself in the game.
There is also a ship destroying minigame that happens after a few waves. Ships come into port and you have to destroy as many as possible before they dock. You will always use fireballs regardless of the elements you chose. It does give you a break from killing workers and it also changes the amount of workers you get in the waves that follow.
Each element you get has three powers; one local, once trail and one superpower. Trails and local powers also get 3 levels of use, which is indicated by a circle bar that fills up around the icons. Local powers are cheap and affect a small area, while trail powers can cover large areas and usually last for a short while afterwards. Superpowers are charged by killing with powers of that element and affect large areas of the level.
Earth has boulders to crush workers and is completely single target and an earthquake that leaves a brief trail of destruction. The superpower is a boulder that rolls down the tower crushing most workers but some will jump the boulder, leaving you with less kills than you’d expect.
Fire has fireball that increases its area of effect based on what level it is, it can also damage the tower. The trail power is a wall of fire that burns anything that touches it and lasts a few seconds. The superpower is a meteor storm that rains down fireballs that destroy parts of the tower so workers have to repair it.
Water has a rainstorm that slows all enemies that are in the shower, and an icy wind that freezes workers, causing damage to nearby enemies when they shatter. The superpower is a tidal wave that covers the entire tower if you wish it to; you can build it up to a lower strength in order to leave the upper levels untouched.
Finally, wind has a lightning storm that lasts a few seconds and kills anything in a small radius and a tornado that you can drag around the map, picking up workers along the way. The superpower is a sandstorm that covers a large area and constantly kills anything that passes into it. It can cover an area for a good 30seconds or so.
There are three different towers, each being of a different difficulty. The first is a spiral tower with only a single path to the top; it is also the tallest tower and therefore takes the longest to build. The second is a more structured tower; it has two routes to the top that are built independently and has a small amount of cover that can protect workers as they climb to the top. Lastly is the Hanging Gardens, which is the shortest of the towers, has multiple areas that the workers can gain protection from and has two building routes that join together before the top.
The campaign is slow to start with and introduces new elements (both the powers and enemy unit types) bit by bit. The objectives are mostly survive this long, this many waves or kill this many of this unit. It does go through each tower and each pairing of elements as well so more often than not you have little choice in the powers you use but get a good taste of the offerings available to you. That having been said the first couple of levels are ridiculously easy and very boring because of it.
There is also a survival mode with two difficulty settings and an offline multiplayer mode with head to head gameplay and co-op. Head to head has both survival and score attack gametypes and can get quite competitive. Co-op can be fun if you find the right combination of powers and a partner to play with.
Kinect worked reasonably well, it was pretty responsive but changing elements was much quicker on the controller. It also is much more difficult to be precise with the Kinect in stressful situations; trying to hit everyone excluding the cursed jar bearer with the Kinect was too awkward and handling trail powers was too cumbersome compared to a regular controller.
Presentation and Audio
Some of the music is ok but one of the chanting tracks gets excruciatingly annoying after a long session. Hearing the workers death cries is only fun for a short while before it gets repetitive. It is quite cartoony in nature and it looks relatively good but colours of the priests auras can be easy to differentiate between at times and the shade on the 1st tower can obscure some of the workers.
The restriction of two elements at a time leads to the long times spent playing a single game into basic repetition. Because trail powers don’t stick to pathways you can sometimes miss hitting workers or lead the power into jar bearers. Kinect support doesn’t really add anything as the controller is more accurate and quicker to use.
The game is repetitive and doesn’t fully explore the ideas its starts with. Maybe with online multiplayer it’d be a little better but the lack of interesting gameplay means you’ll get bored with the long level times and repetition. If you are an avid fan of tower defence games it might be to your taste but otherwise its unlikely to impress you.
Towards the beginning of the game I ended up doing very little, as workers wouldn’t get past the base of the tower; in later levels it only changed due to the second route. The lack of variety in the gameplay is frustrating and in later levels it’s made more so due to the length of time it takes to complete a level. For what is most similar to a tower defence game, it lacks to usual fun in micromanagement that you normally get.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.