War Gods (video game)
Eurocom (home versions)
|Publisher(s)||Midway Games (Arcade, N64, PS)
GT Interactive (Windows)
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players simultaneously|
|Cabinet||Dedicated 1-Screen Upright Cabinet, Deluxe 2-screen Cabinet|
|Arcade system||Midway V Unit|
|Display||Raster, 512 x 400 pixels (Horizontal), 32768 colors|
War Gods is a fighting video game originally released to arcades by Midway Games in 1995. Ports for the Nintendo 64, PlayStation and Windows were released in 1997. In the game, players control one of ten fighters who have been given great power by a mysterious ore that crashed-landed on Earth from outer space. The object of the game is to defeat all the other fighters to become the most powerful warrior on the planet.
The game was heavily influenced by Midway's Mortal Kombat series, and features controls similar to the Mortal Kombat games, as well as the series signature fatalities. Unique to War Gods is the "3D" button, allowing users to use the background/foreground for additional attacks and evasive maneuvers. The game's graphics were created using a technology Midway called "digital skin", which mapped photographs onto 3D models.
War Gods received mixed reviews, with particular criticism being directed at the game's character design and animations.
The game plays similarly to Mortal Kombat 4, using an almost identical button layout of high/low punches and kicks. The "Run" button was replaced with a "3D" button that, when held down while using other joystick and button combinations, allows the player to perform different attacks/evasions utilizing the background or foreground. Just as in the Mortal Kombat games, players select a character and fight a series of opponents. War Gods also features combos which can be used through series of button presses. Like the Mortal Kombat games, the game also has fatalities that are used to finish off opponents.
Released by Midway as the first of its new 3D software prior to the release of Mortal Kombat 4, War Gods was developed by a team led by Joe Linhoff and George Petro. The arcade game utilized a hard drive for data storage. All the moves were recorded using motion capture with just two actors. The in-game characters were created using a technology called "digital skin", which involved digitizing reference photographs of live actors and mapping them onto 3-D models.
Developer credits include: Joe Linhoff (Project Lead, Systems Design), George Petro (Co-Lead, Game Play), Matt Booty (Systems / DCS2), Ed Keenan (Systems, DCS2), Jim Gentile (Art Direction, Character Design / Models), Jim Rohn (Lead Animator, Character Design), Dave Zabloudil (Background Designs, Models / Effects), Tom Brierton (Character Animation), Eric Kinkead (Additional Art), Vince Pontarelli (Music / Speech, Sound Effects), Jeff Morrow (Voice of Exor).
War Gods adopted Mortal Kombat's fighting style, but was created independently and never achieved the success of Mortal Kombat. The game boasted a "3D button" that lets fighters dive around the ring, in a circular arc, as part of their attacks and defensive moves. The orbiting camera smoothly follows the fighters, working to maintain the left/right "fighting line" needed for coherent two-player joystick control on the arcade cabinet.
The Nintendo 64 version was delayed in order to tone down the difficulty level and add additional moves.
Many, many years ago, a spaceship carrying precious life-giving ore crashes to Earth. The chunks of ore scatter across the planet, and over the years, ten humans each find a stone of the ore, and are transformed into powerful beings, War Gods. And now, they are fighting each other to possess all the stones and become the ultimate super-warrior. To do this the player must beat the other 9 fighters, and a clone of the character the player has chosen, before going on to fight the sub-boss; Grox and the main boss; Exor.
- Ahau Kin - an evil high priest who, after having a vision, sent his slaves to their death diving into his tribe's sacrificial well to reach the Ore, before retrieving the Ore himself.
- Anubis - after uncovering a hidden burial chamber guarded by the Ore in the Valley of the Kings, his body was captured by the Ore and his soul was cursed to return as Anubis.
- CY-5 - a cyborg from the future implanted with the Ore by scientists who are unaware of the Ore's true power, CY-5 seeks additional Ore to achieve greater human consciousness.
- Kabuki Jo - a medieval samurai who seeks to master the power of the Ore after it causes him to slaughter his own men in a rage of fire and fury.
- Maximus - a gladiator who killed his opponent in battle and his masters, escaping with the Ore and fighting for all who have been enslaved.
- Pagan - a mistress of the black arts who finds the Ore, which increases her hunger for power and destruction.
- Tak - a stone idol brought to life by the Ore as the avenger of a lost civilization.
- Vallah - a warrior princess who stumbles upon a piece of the Ore while taking shelter during a storm; it transforms her into a Viking goddess who rules the realm of ice. Physical likeness portrayed by Kerri Hoskins, who portrayed Sonya Blade from early Mortal Kombat titles 
- Voodoo - an evil Caribbean witch doctor who is killed and thrown into a swamp containing some of the Ore, which brings him back to life as Voodoo, god of the undead.
- Warhead - a former soldier who was the product of an explosion due to a failed attempt by the government to merge nuclear weapons with The Ore. Physical likeness portrayed by Brian Glynn, the physical actor for Shao Kahn from early Mortal Kombat titles.
The response to War Gods was lukewarm. One of the biggest criticisms the game received was for its cast of characters. Computer and Video Games reported that while the arcade game was being exhibited at the 1996 American Coin Machine Exhibition, showgoers believed that the character designs would hurt the game's chances for success. Matt Casamassina of IGN called the character designs "uninspired." Game Revolution, however, called the character designs "pretty cool" and complimented the variety in the available fighters.
The response to the game's graphics was mixed. Computer and Video Games had a positive impression of the in-game models with "digital skin". Commenting on the Nintendo 64 version, Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot called it "probably the first N64 fighting game to hit the market that actually shows off some of the power of this system." However, Game Revolution said the game looked fine when nothing was moving, but criticized the character animations as choppy and said the game's graphics did not fully utilize the N64 hardware. Casamassina wrote that the while the digital skin textures were "initially nice", the "animation and terrible character design detract greatly from the whole experience."
IGN said they were "pleased with the control in the game, but not overly excited by it." Reviewers also commented that the game's controls were ill-suited for the N64 controller. The Nintendo 64 version was also criticized for having imbalanced A.I. Reviewers highlighted the fact that the game plays very similarly to the Mortal Kombat games. Gerstmann commented that there was "just enough of the MK feel to give it familiarity" calling it "an interesting footnote to the MK legacy." After seeing the game demoed at the American Coin Machine Exposition, a Next Generation writer said it was "the next step forward for Midway's Mortal Kombat series (though it's not technically Mortal Kombat)."
- "War Gods." Computer and Video Games. May 1996. p.12
- Gerstmann, Jeff (June 3, 1997). "War Gods Review". GameSpot.
- War Gods at the Killer List of Videogames
- "Gaming Gossip". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (76): 32. November 1995.
- Casamassina, Matt (May 29, 1997). "War Gods". Retrieved January 9, 2013.
- "Midway Goes back to Drawing Board, Delays War Gods". IGN. January 6, 1997.
- "War Gods". Game Revolution. June 6, 2004. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
- "Virtua Fighter 3 Steals US Show". Next Generation. No. 17. Imagine Media. May 1996. p. 21.