PAX East 2013: Spartacus Legends hands-on preview
Spartacus is a stylized, sexual, violent TV show on Starz. It's pretty much Christmas morning for anyone that loves bisexual orgies and gladiatorial executions. Ubisoft's Spartacus Legends is an upcoming fighting game that provides the same stylized one-on-one combat, but without the boobs, penises, strap-ons and orgies.
A free-to-play title coming to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 through PSN and Xbox LIVE, Spartacus Legends puts you into the shoes (or sandals... or whatever they wear on their feet) of slaves sold into becoming gladiators for the amusement of the masses. As you level up through fights, you gain more fame and money, upgrading your equipment to make you the best killing machine you can be. Whether you're fighting just another random opponent or a named, big boss gladiator that you might see in the show, each fight is a bloody match that ends in death for someone.
And Spartacus Legends takes death seriously. When you die, you're really dead -- whether you play against the computer or a match against another human player online. You can choose to revive your gladiator for gold, which increases exponentially every time you want to save him, or you can let him rest in pieces -- odds are he'll be missing a limb or his head. It's a choice the player will be forced to make. Maybe the high cost of keeping that gladiator isn't worth it, and you should move on and start fresh.
One good thing is that after you win a fight, you receive money, experience, equipment and perks. The perks will add more crit chance, damage, weapon speed, and things of that nature. You can only have a certain number of perks equipped at once, and swapping them out costs you your ever-precious gold. Once again, a decision will have to be made whether it's worth swapping out an old perk for a new one, or discarding the new one altogether.
Even though I sucked at the combat and my coworker Andrew Clouther was good at it, I had fun playing it. The combat was fast and frantic, with the same stylized fighting that you could find in the TV show. From slow-downs to killing blows, it's all present in Spartacus Legends. You are equipped with light and heavy attacks, a defensive parry that provides some really cool slow-motion action, an evade roll, a block and a throw. The throws, particularly, are exciting, as they always provide a really cool attack animation with it. Timing is everything as you watch in slow-mo yours and your opponent's attacks moving at each other.
With combat combe blood -- lots and lots of blood. Gashes and wounds appear on your gladiator as the fight progresses. We know it ends in death for someone, and those deaths are sweet, sweet killing blows.
Spartacus Legends is quite a fighting game for a free title. While a little more polish on the animations wouldn't hurt, it's hard to see this game not garnering a community around it. That community will probably be a trash-talking angry bunch, though, as the stakes are so high. It'll always end in someone's death.
Spartacus Legends has no official release date, but will launch sometime in 2013 on PSN and XBLA.