Deadliest Warrior review
Most gamers know they shouldn’t expect much from licensed video games, but history has been particularly rough on television. Some shows aren't adequately designed in a way that can be molded into a sensible gaming experience – others are poorly represented by lazy publishers milking the property for all it’s worth.
Surprisingly enough, Spike Games’ Deadliest Warrior is not a terrible game. At the very least, it is exactly what you should reasonably expect from a $10 Xbox Live Arcade title based on a television series that simulates violent battles between some of the most barbaric humans in history.
Deadliest Warrior’s roster includes an Apache, Centurion, Knight, Ninja, Pirate, Samurai, Spartan, and Viking. For the most part, they battle similarly to what should be expected – Ninjas are frail but quick on their feet, Knights are restricted but protected by heavy armor, and Vikings like their finishing moves to come with extra gore. In the near future, Spike Games will release a downloadable pack of characters that include Vlad the Impaler, William Wallace, Celtic and Aztec warriors, and more. Additionally, the game will appear on the PlayStation Network at a later date.
The gameplay is flawed but the different fighting styles, bloody decapitations, and absurd match-ups between Vikings and Spartans are still likely to attract fans of the show. The biggest problem is the camera, which often gets stuck directly behind your character as you stumble around the awkward arenas. Combos are mindlessly simple to execute, but evasive moves are sluggish. There are high, middle, and low attacks, so you can try to slash at the jugular or sweep the feet out from underneath your foes. The collision detection for projectile attacks is rarely consistent, but ultimately the thrill of this game still shines through when you manage to stick your opponent’s face to a wall with a javelin or “Black Knight” them by dismembering all of their limbs.
All of the game modes are standard for the genre. The Arcade Mode is the primary single-player option; you select a warrior, fight through each of the others in succession, unlock new weapons and armor as rewards, and repeat the process until you’re done. The strengths, weaknesses, weapons, and armor are based on the historic counterparts. Naturally, you should expect the Apache’s primitive arrows to splinter against a Centurion’s sturdy tower shield.
The presentation is hardly perfect, but the animation is smooth and represents each character in a unique way. The models are colorful, detailed well, and dismember like a charm when things get messy. It's too bad that the camera is broken, because the game is hardly the worst-looking XBLA title.
If you are a serious fan of the Deadliest Warrior television series, you might be able to overlook some of the flawed mechanics simply because you get to experience battles between Ninjas, Vikings, Pirates, and Knights. The gory limb removals and impalements-via-javelin are cheap fun that will treat anyone with the patience to tangle with some sluggish controls and simple combo moves.