– Charlie Braithwaite
I haven’t always seen eye to eye with MOBAs. I don’t get the fun in grinding for close to an hour to have it all erased just to start again. So when SMITE by Hi-Rez Studios, recently ported to Xbox One, found its way onto my desk to review, I was hesitant. After deciding that it looked different enough to warrant me playing, I dove into it expecting the worst.
After loading up the game and 1000 yard staring through the tutorial I was pretty impressed with the roster of characters. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. When I read the attack moves I was even more impressed, I could totally attack people with a kraken when playing as Poseidon, and attack I did.
Essentially SMITE is the same as every other MOBA, you have mana, a bunch of spells, an ultimate move, a shop full of items, towers to destroy and F words to scream in frustration. But something about it engaged me more than any other MOBA has managed to. The conquest mode is standard MOBA fare, there are two teams of five who fight for control of a central lane. To the sides are jungles which host NPCs you can attack for buffs. What really caught my attention was the arena mode, which pits gods together in a Colosseum style battle. I found this mode far more satisfying as it allows you to quench your blood lust more than conquest.
The third-person view makes a big difference and really helps to define the game. The view really immerses you in the action and definitely makes following a column of minions into battle feel great. Not to mention it makes the game look a whole lot nicer than some other MOBAs out there. By all means the graphics aren’t amazing for next gen standards, I did have some draw issues with background objects, but it still looks good for a free to play game.
As a free to play game there are of course micro transactions. You can buy an ever growing list of gods to play as, however if you pick up the founders pack, you automatically receive new gods, which for AU$29.99 isn’t bad considering the game is free.
The market place for the game mainly sells alternate skins and voice packs for the gods. Most of which are pretty cool, if not a little bit silly. Fancy playing as Fenrir, the Nordic wolf god, in a top hat? You totally can.
As mentioned before, the character roster is impressive. The playable gods are from Roman, Greek, Norse, Egyptian, Mayan, Chinese and Hindu religions. While this leads to some pretty cool match ups (Zeus vs. Thor anyone?) it did seem a bit odd to mix currently worshiped deities in with ancient ones. I’m not going to make a big thing of it, because after all, I’m not even slightly religious, but I do know a lot of Hindus were pissed off with sexually suggestive representations of their gods.
In particular the goddess Kali was said to be too sexual. Okay, I understand that, and I understand why people were offended. But also, upon researching the goddess, there were a lot of paintings of her bare breasted. Anyway, that is a whole other issue for another time, the real issue is that Jesus Christ isn’t playable, but I suppose his respawn time would be problematic.
Overall I found SMITE to be a really enjoyable game, and I recommend anyone who is skeptical about MOBAs to give it a shot. The learning curve is less brutal than others and it has enough substance to come back to. Arena mode was particularly fun and resulted in some amazing kill streaks, and as anyone who plays MOBAs knows, kill streaks in these games are like god damn crack. You will become well and truly hooked.