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Ambition road to godliness

Justin Hoeger
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

DEMIGOD

Publisher: Stardock

System: Windows XP and Vista

Price; $39.99

Age rating: Teen

"Demigod" is nothing short of a supernatural smackdown.

The gods have cast down one of their own, and they seek a replacement from the ranks of demigods — powerful creatures that are more than mortal but less than true gods. The only way to settle the matter is trial by combat, with godhood going to the victor.

And that's about as much plot as "Demigod" has. The game is meant for the multiplayer world, much as the "Battlefield" series of shooting games is. And like them, the single-player modes are really only there as a way to practice for online battles in matches ranging from one vs. one to five vs. five.

"Demigod" was made by Gas Powered Games, which was behind the ambitious and complicated "Supreme Commander" and last year's lackluster "Space Siege." This game is on the ambitious side as well but eschews much of the complication.

The game can be found in stores or purchased online at Stardock.com; either method requires the installation of Stardock's Impulse platform.

There are eight demigods in the game in two broad categories. Two more demigods are planned as a free download. Assassins are powerful beings that work solo, bringing devastating attacks to bear against their enemies and taking tons of punishment.

Generals can summon and command small groups of minions, some from scrolls and some from their own innate abilities.

Among the assassins are the Torchbearer, a vengeful spirit who calls forth flame and ice; the Unclean Beast, a disgusting abomination who spreads disease; Regulus, a mutilated angel who snipes with his crossbow; and the game's de facto mascot, the Rook, a living, moving castle.

The generals include the Oak, an animated suit of armor who summons the spirits of the dead; the Queen of Thorns, who bends nature to her will; Sedna, a healer who rides a giant cat and commands yetis; and Lord Erebus, a vampire who raises his fallen foes as servants.

The goal of a match depends on the game type. In Conquest, it is to destroy the other team's citadel; in Fortress, it is to destroy several tough bunkers; in Slaughter, it is to kill a set count of demigods; and in Dominate, it is to control flags on the map for points, as in the "Battlefield" games.

Regardless of game type, static defenses and bonus-granting flags are in the picture, and taking out the citadel always results in victory. The game can be played in single-match skirmishes or as a tournament of eight.

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