Thursday, February 26, 2015


Whee, I'm banned from Smite so it's time to write a post about it.

Smite mostly reminds me of Savage 2 and not only because of the close third person perspective. Now, since after a decade of existence, AoS games finally became "a thing" a few years back with Demigod, Heroes of Newerth and League of Legends, the genre is gradually becoming standardized. Read: uncreative, entrenched and littered with carbon-copies trying to leech some customers off each other. Aside from its third-person close-locked camera gimmick, Smite is in many ways an even more dumbed-down version of the AoS concept than its competitors.

It's lent a very "savage" feel by a similar attempt to transfer the fast-paced reactive twitch-gaming of arcade fighting titles (Mortal Kombat, etc.) to online multiplayer. While the idealized AoS concept revolves around team strategy, it's suffered from a constant push to narrow the focus down to individual self-aggrandizement, to remove strategic elements (both in terms of map objectives like resource acquisition and individual choice in money spending) and pare everything down to an idiotic slapfest.

Despite its 3D perspective, Smite remains painfully two-dimensional. There is no z-axis. All your movement, abilities and all effects take place on the x-y plane. "Jump" abilities are a status effect and not actual motion.
There are no targeted abilities. Great marketing tool for leet-kiddies since you can tout "skill" in hitting line-of-fire attacks... which would be great as a basic assumption into which to also fit a bit of target lock, but except for a couple of "ultimate" auto-targeting skills, everything you do in Smite resolves to either a line attack or a ground attack. Granted this is largely a necessary evil of its FPS ambitions but it falls short of Savage 2, which though it used a true FPS basis for its gameplay managed to also address the necessity for smartcasting certain abilities thrugh crowds of players, like, say, healing for instance.
You cannot build a hybrid character in Smite. While most similar projects have wrestled with the issue of ability versus autoattack damage (most notably DotA with its "beat up the nerds" caster-stomping gameplay) Smite offers you no room to experiment. If you are a caster, you can only buy caster items. If you are a hitter you can only buy physical damage items.

Overall, Smite has clearly been designed for the idiotic fast-fingers, slow-brain e-sports crowd. Gameplay is petty, limited, devoid of any options which might confuse the leet-kiddies. Combining the worst of both RTS and FPS, your interaction is circumscribed by your choice in team role while your abilities follow the "shoot, shoot and shoot some more" FPS routine. You are not meant to think. You are meant to make yourself liked by following the "meta" and being in the know as to what "rocks" or "sux" in the current patch - and gods help you if you ever deviate from the accepted behavior pattern! Oh emm gee, u bought item xyz? OMG OMG it sux u sux OMG everybody surrender naow this guy sux!

Computer gamers have always had to absorb the constant accusation of childishness, and for the most part it's a bullshit slam by outsiders looking to score some "maturity" points. In this case, however, Smite has quite obviously gone out of its way to secure a mid-teens male audience. You run through the game's tutorial as probably the easiest-to-play character, Neith, who LaraCrofts her way around the map in a bikini and exaggerated swagger that would put most strippers to shame. This is her victory dance (apparently ignored by the religious crackpots who chose to complain about Kali being "sexualized") and let's not even get into Aphrodite...

Between this marketing scheme and the strategic limitations, Smite's community devolves to a high-school clique mentality. You do what the group wants you to do, regardless of whether it's helping all of you or not. If you step out of line, you become the scapegoat. Now, this is actually a step up from say, League of Legends, where the mentality tended to revolve around kindergarden-ish foot-stomping to make teammates give you what you wanted, but it's still a far cry from a fulfilling team experience.

So what about the goods? Smite is actually an expertly made product. The comparison to Savage 2 extends to the very fluid and engaging gameplay. Though lacking depth and scope, each match simply flows through intuitive movements, abilities and objectives, and in this Smite truly has recaptured the charm of fighting games. By abandoning most pretense of complexity, it's become a truer representation of a "MOBA" than many others which cling to a RTS facade while delivering nothing more strategic than Street Fighter. It's not what AoS should be, by any stretch, but it's quite expertly focused on its true goal and audience.

Which audience, might I add, I would gladly subtract from the human species. If you want to find some real teams, Smite ain't the place for that. If, however, you want to get called a "noob" by cliquish, degenerate, cowardly, parasitic excuses for pack hunters legitimizing their incompetence by adhering to the hero-worship of some mouthbreather they watch religiously on twitch-tv, there's no better place for it than Smite.

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