Saturday, March 17, 2012

There's a perfectly good reason why Midway's 3-D fighting game WarGods was scarcely seen in arcades: It's lousy. That said, Eurocom (responsible for the noteworthy 1995 conversion of Capcom's Super Street Fighter II Turbo) did a commendable job converting this goofy title to the PC platform. WarGods fares much better as a PC game than it did amidst its quarter crunching competition, and in fact it's not a half-bad way to have yourself a half-hour fix of mindless action. If you can look beyond the preposterous cast of characters, you'll find WarGods to be a colorful and even attractive little fighting game.

WarGods is Midway's Mortal Kombat in 3-D. While Mortal Kombat's designers had nothing to do with it, WarGods' similarity to the violent series is unmistakable. Silly looking blood, ridiculous fatality moves, and plenty of weird special moves are all present and accounted for in Midway's first venture into 3-D fighting. The characters and backgrounds are fully polygonal, texture-mapped, and highly detailed, yet the game's frame rate remains acceptable on a Pentium 133 with everything on. Unfortunately, the ten fighters in the game are, at best, horrifically animated and move way too stiffly. Combine the poor animation with the digitized texture mapping (folks were filmed and their photos slapped on top of the polygonal characters), and the end result is gut wrenching.

WarGods sounds as ludicrous and over-the-top as it looks, with the ten fighters producing primal grunts and groans as the announcer laughs his head off and comments on the battle. One can't help but detect a little irony when the announcer exclaims, "Unbelievable!" after a big, dumb-looking punch connects. The characters, from the rock-man Tak to the toaster-headed centurion Maximus, are each quite different in appearance (though they're each perfectly despicable in their own right) - yet all of them play very much alike and rely on cheap special moves and lame combos to win their bouts.

There isn't much of a selection when it comes to fighting games on the PC. The fact that WarGods is one of the strongest titles of its kind to emerge on the PC is a testament to just how under-represented the genre has been thus far. But by this same token, WarGods is worth a look if only because it doesn't have a lot of competition. It runs great in a window and does offer a number of special moves and fatalities, as well as some slick background graphics. While WarGods is purely adolescent when measured against truly great polygonal fighting games like the Tekken or Virtua Fighter series, the fact remains that it's among the best of its kind on the PC. Admittedly, that's not saying much, but it's a playable and often, if inadvertently, amusing means of getting your daily dose of uppercuts and roundhouse kicks.

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