It was about one year ago that I first heard about SMITE. It was the new kid on the block when it came to the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre aka MOBA. Seeing it in action really got me excited, Hi Rez sudios had successfully tweaked enough things to make the genre their own but also managed to craft a solid MOBA game. Smite follows the traditional MOBA progression yet changes the field of view to a third person perspective. Further more, it gives the player WASD movement instead of the standard point and click. In order to finish with style, Smite also adds stronger graphics than the current MOBA in the market. But as with any game, there is much more to this one than its pretty exterior. Read on and find out if it’s worth your time.
The first thing that catches your eye as you load Smite is its presentation. Smite has strong technical graphics, but suffers from an inconsistent art style. This is obvious the moment you step out of your home temple, which is your base and starting area. The temple looks great and the Minotaur you have to defend appears strong and intimidating. However, as soon as you step out of this area, things take a turn for the generic. The greatest offender here is the trees along side the jungle areas. They look boxy and polygonal and have an abysmal texture painted on top of them. Fortunately, it is not the arena that is the focus of the game, but the Gods that inhabit it. Currently, Smite has 30 gods to choose from. Most of these gods are drenched in style and have a personality of their own. It is great to see a clash between multiple deities and their varied abilities. There are few rotten apples in this first batch of gods (Thor I’m looking at you), but nothing that is painful to look at. It is also plausible that some of these gods look so plain in order to encourage the purchase of additional skins. Some gods like the standard Zeus look like extremely generic, but have really eye catching alternate skins.
The music for the game is great, though limited. What really stands out is the sound design; each god has its own unique and appropriate sound cues. This further enhances the personality of each god. Even if I were blindfolded, I could easily recognize each god in a match due to the sound bites attached to their actions. Take for example the Chinese god Sun Wukong; his audio clips have “crazy-monkey-king “ written all over them. He screeches and taunts at his opponents during each of his attacks, which really embeds his essence into the battlefield. For example, his ultimate attack, Year of the Monkey, really feels like a celebration as you see and hear all of the fireworks exploding and whirling through the air. Overall the audio is well designed and executed. However, occasionally the narration of the game will lag behind, the narrator might announce a double kill before even announcing the first kill. This is far and in between, but at times might confuse the players in the arena.
The meat of every MOBA is its gameplay and Smite has plenty of tweaks to keep the formula fresh and streamlined. The first thing a new player will notice upon logging in to the game client is that newbies are grouped together into a novice queue. This allows newcomers to get used to the game without being harassed by higher-level players. In this mode skill upgrades and item purchases are done automatically for you, ensuring that players focus on learning to play the game. Shortly afterwards players rank up and have access to the regular queue and can start planning on constructing specialized builds.It is in this queue where the game really begins to shine. Like other MOBA games in the market Smite has 3 major lanes in the map, a jungle area and a home base or “temple” area. The lines are guarded by towers and in the case Smite, the innermost defense of a lane is not a tower but a phoenix. Once a phoenix is defeated, stronger minions spawn in that lane attempting to invade the temple. Inside the temple there is a Minotaur, slay him and victory will be awarded to your team. But beware, this Minotaur will defend himself. Furthermore, the minotaur gains a buff if there are allied phoenix or towers still standing so attack him at your own risk.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Smite mixes things up by switching the perspective to third person and giving the player full WASD control. By doing so, Smite needs to use the movement of the mouse to aim and move the camera. This makes every attack on smite a “skill shot,” in other words don’t expect to click on an enemy and assume that your attack will land or that they will not evade it. This really puts the emphasis on action rather than passive gameplay. While taking care of enemy spawns is still relatively easy, dueling another player is immediately intense and rewarding. During these duels it is imperative to judge speed, distance and orientation. Knowing which skills you can use and how to use them, as well as what type of enemy you are facing is crucial during higher ranked matches. During these 1-on-1 duels each god is constantly moving and taunting as well as attacking and snaring. These types of skirmishes are most common at the beginning of a match, when each god is trying to protect its lane.
As the match progresses, gods will team up to take down lanes or defend them, these events lead to team battles. In these matches the squad that makes better use of team strategies and has a better squad composition will emerge victorious. Having a good mix of melee, range and tank characters gives a team a higher chance at survival. The matches in Smite last on average about 30 minutes. Unlike other games, these tend to go by pretty quickly and are full of action. By the thirty-minute mark ultimate attacks will be triggered, towers will be destroyed, gods will be ganked, phoenix will be slain and reborn and ultimately a Minotaur will be slain. Overall, Smite feels like a faster and more intense version of the battle arenas currently in the market, which is a welcomed change in this genre. If you are into duking it out in an online arena, you should definitely check out Smite.
How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!
- More action and less passive gameplay
- Mythological theme with deities from several cultures
- Better Graphics than the competition
- Fast character progression
- Excellent Macro communication system
- Ability to purchase gods with in-game points
- Occasional audio glitches
- Inconsistent art style
- Lots of gods to choose from, but only a few unlocked