The Frag Limit


Smite – Review
December 31, 2012, 10:41 am
Filed under: Hit Scan | Tags: , , , ,

Review Score: 94 / 100

Review Stats:

  • Gameplay – 10
  • Fun Factor – 10
  • Competition Value – 9
  • Replay Value – 9
  • Intangibles – 9
  • Total Score – 47 (x2) = 94

Game Information:

  • Platform(s) – PC
  • Release Date – Still in Beta as of 12/31/2012
  • Game Modes – Arena, Conquest, Domination, Joust

The Nitty Gritty:

Hi-Rez seems to have done it again. Hi-Rez has made another wonderful, original game which is completely free-to-play and not necessarily pay-to-win. This time the Hi-Rez team has put together a fancy MOBA title which is entirely set in the third-person perspective (as opposed to the traditional isometric perspective of most other MOBAs). This small twist on the camera position has created an entirely new gameplay experience for this beloved esports genre. The change in camera position has made the MOBA more appealing to “twitch” gamers – which is to say; those gamers who prefer quick, reflexive action as opposed to strategic action – and has also made it more appealing to those gamers who simply cannot “get into” the top-down isometric gameplay of traditional RTS games. This simple change in game design cannot be overstated enough as its importance is paramount in this latest offering from Hi-Rez.

Smite is the “Battleground of the Gods”, as its slogan states. In Smite, one can take on the role of many different “Gods” from classical mythology. Gods from five different pantheons (Greek, Norse, Egyptian, Chinese and Hindu) are available at present time and Hi-Rez has stated that more pantheons may be opened up in the future. At present time there are about 30 Gods which can be played from these five different pantheons. Smite players can battle it out with such well known deities like Zues and Thor, or play lesser known higher-beings like Bakasura and Xbalanque. Whatever God one chooses, it should be noted, that all are pretty well balanced in spite of each God have a unique set of skills and abilities from which to use. I will discuss more about this later.

Gameplay:

The gameplay in Smite is spot-on. Indeed, everything about it just makes the game a blast to play. Starting with the unique camera angle (for MOBAs) the game has a twitch-based aspect to it which makes almost every shot a “skill shot”. Many Gods have basic attacks and special skills which allow them to shoot or aim in a specific direction. This fact makes it so that if one can aim at one’s target, then one can also miss one’s target. Artemis, for example, shoots arrows for her basic attack. These arrows have to be aimed and shot correctly (judging for distance and lead time) to hit the opponant. If these basic attacks are executed carelessly then many shots will be missed – thereby rendering the entire exercise pointless. Many other attacks and abiliites operate in the same manner throughout the game. This aspect of the “skill shot” makes it so that game becomes quite fun and entertaining from a tactical perspective. One can never tell who may win a battle until the battle is completely over as the presence of skill shots in the game may influence who wins and who loses at any given time.

Another thing that makes the game really fun to play is how well balanced the game is. As noted earlier, in spite of each God having their own seperate and unique skills and abilites the game balances these differences rather well. While a newly released God may require some balancing (after being accused of being “OP” or “overpowered” by the players), most Gods that have been around for some time are not going to being superior to any other God. Most Gods are “equal” (although due to the complexity of the system, however, the balancing will never be perfect). Hi-Rez has shown some chops in balancing these Gods rather well so that the game is fun for everyone to play (which is to say; it is fun to play every God), while at the same time not making every God a carbon copy of every other God (each God is unique).

Fun Factor:

The well-balanced gameplay in Smite makes the game really fun to play. The different skills and abilities of the different Gods makes it feel like one has the ability to change the outcome of the battle (and one does have that power), but at the same time those unique skills and abilities never overwhelm the game. The game always balances at fine edge and it is at this edge which awesome battles and skirmishes occur.

While accounting for one’s own actions, one must also be dependant on one’s team as Smite is very much a team-oriented game. This team aspect is perhaps one of Smite’s greatest assests. The fact that each player has to depend on one’s teammates for success means that each player ought to play as a team member, or simply find a different game to play. Indeed, since all of the gamemodes in Smite are no more than 5 versus 5 players, it is paramount that one focus on aiding and serving the team. If one does not and “plays solo” if you will, then there is no doubt that one will catch flak for those actions. Diregarding the team will not only result in a loss, but also in shame and ridicule from other players.

How, one may be asking, is this fun? It is fun because heavily team-oriented games are difficult to find. Sure there may a number of different games out there that cater to multiplayer action, but most of these games are FPS games and have larger team sizes (up to 32 versus 32). In a setting such as that it doesn’t matter so much if a few people “go rogue” here and there. But for Smite, everyone needs to play as a team member. And it is this team focus which makes the game so fun to play. Before one’s knows it, one will be playing like a well-oiled team member constantly on the look out for one’s own teammates. Coming to the aid and rescue of a teammate being attacked by enemy players and being thanked by him is exetremely gratifying. Likewise, it is also extremely gratifying to coordinate a surprise attack on enemies with other teammates (such as in a “Gank” – or a flanking movement) and then hear the “Nice Job!” voice messages fly. Moreso, it is extremely fun when you can actually play with people you know via VOIP or in real life. Pairing up with a friend or in a five man team is perhaps one of the funnest gaming experiences one can have.

Competition Value:

Smite has a lot to offer in the area of competition. The game is well-balanced, fun to play, well-designed for team play and leans towards competitive action. The game’s most important gamemode (Conquest) is a team-focused 5 versus 5 match instance in which opposing teams must destroy the other team’s enemy towers, pheonixes, and minotaur to win. This gamemode is similar to other traditional MOBAs such as League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients and is rather simple and straightforward in its design. The mode consists of only one map in which three “lanes” or paths and two main jungle areas make up the entire playable area. This trim design may seem sparse for gamers from other genres, but for Smite (and other MOBAs) this simple, mirrored map acts as just a nice place to display the talent, teamwork and tension of the two opposing teams. It could be said that the map in Smite is like a basketball court or football field. Although it is simple in its design, it also provides the foundation from which all the action of the matches manifest. The elementary design of the map aids and brings forth the potential for great gameplay.

One thing to note about the competition value is that Hi-Rez has a somewhat strange relationship to it. They made this wonderful, well-balanced game that caters to competitive play, yet they don’t actually offer anything in the game itself (or on its website, or in any other form) that caters to competition. Hi-Rez has built the place where all of these great, exciting, team-based matches can happen, yet they have not built a place where people can actually compete. Hi-Rez has done nothing to encourage team-based competition outside of actually just playing the game in a casual manner (by pubbing). They offer no sort of official tournaments, nor leagues, nor even ladders. At the very least they could have an official ladder system to encourage team building and team gameplay. But nothing of the sort exists. Hi-Rez should take a cue from League of Legends and incorperate competitive opportunities directly into its marketing plan. Surely, if this competitive sector grows then the whole game will grow and Hi-Rez will stand to make some nice dough (just look at LoL). It is a wonder why they haven’t supported this area.

Replay Value:

The replay value for Smite is very high. Given the numerous Gods that one can play and the ever expanding gameplay options in this game, this game has a lot to offer. Getting accustomed to all of the different intricacies of just one God can take upwards of 20 matches alone – if not more. To be really good, it may require even more time with that God. Multiple this by the number of Gods available and you have yourself a game that can be played over and over and over agian. Furthermore the competitive nature of this game makes individual players strive to become better and better (for bragging rights of course). Also, if a player is on a team, he or she will often play with their team to practice or to do competitive battle. This greatly amplifies how much a player will come back time and again to play the game.

Intangibles:

Smite has a lot going for it, but one of the best things things that it has going for it is that it is free! Smite is completely free to download and play. Of course, there are only a limited number of Gods that one can choose to use once in the game, but different Gods rotate in and out to allow players who have not unlocked certain Gods to play those Gods. Furthermore, if one plays enough, they can get enough experience points to unlock a new God completely free of charge. One may be wondering how Hi-Rez makes any money at all. Well, they do sell “gems”, which is the in-game currency used to purchase skins (new models of a God) and new Gods themselves. If a player doesn’t want to wait for the God rotation and/or doesn’t want to grind it out to gain experience, he can just go to the Smite store and buy some gems. However, Smite can be played almost entirely without having to spend a dime – which makes it great for those gamers who are on a budget.

The other big thing Smite has going for it is that it is a FUN and UNIQUE GAME! While MOBAs have been around for awhile, the use of the third-person perspective creates almost an entirely new genre in and of itself (it is a sub-genre of sorts). The third-person perspective makes the game quick and “twitchy” and due to this draws in a entirely new crowd of gamers. Smite is also a lot of fun to play. If a player can get over the high learning curve, Smite has a lot to offer in depth of gameplay. This deep gameplay makes the game really exciting as players are always looking for ways to improve their Gods stats in every match by attempting to select the best “build” they can for their Gods. The gameplay itself is also very addicting. The combination of tactical and strategic elements in the game will always have gamers on the edge of their seats trying to get those minor advantages which add up over the course of the match into great advantages. There is never a dull moment or lull in the action. For these reasons, Smite is a game which should not be missed. Smite is a fantasic game!