Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat has an awesome concept behind it. Ninjas vs. Pirates, Samurais vs. Knights, Alexander the Great vs. Vlad the Impaler, William Wallace vs. Shaka Zula, and other combatants are here, ready to eviscerate each other using their respective era-appropriate weapons. It’s like Mortal Kombat, except educational (kinda). Ancient Combat consists of two games: Deadliest Warrior: The Game and Deadliest Warrior: Legends, both available as separate downloads on PSN. Including all of the DLC for both games, six episodes from Season 3 of the series and a $29.99 price tag, it should be a great deal. As they say, though: You get what you pay for.
For the uninitiated, Deadliest Warrior is a show pitting two warrior or two warrior archetypes — such as ninjas, Spartans, and pirates — against each other and simulates a battle based on the weaponry that they used when they were around. All of them bring one long range, mid-range, and close-quarters weapon into each battle. Fights are simulated based on the effectiveness of these weapons, and a winner is chosen.
Ancient Combat follows the show to a tee. Each fighter has three weapons that they can switch between in battle. While you can switch out between your midrange and close weapons through out the fight, the long-range weapons get only a limited amount of bullets to use each round. The face buttons all target certain parts of the body, which is important as attacking body parts could end up impairing your opponents. Much like the show, the battles are very bloody. Limbs are easily severed with enough hits, spilling gallons of blood in the process.
The body targeting works wonderfully here. If you hack away enough times at an opponent’s midsection, you could hack off his arm. Aside from the obvious disadvantage, the opponent’s swing is weakened and they may even lose whatever weapon they were using at the time. Chip at their legs, and you could hinder their movement. Your best shot is to attack the head; hurt it enough and you end the round immediately.
Despite both games having this mechanic, they both play differently. Deadliest Warrior: The Game is very much like a traditional fighter. You have life bars at the top, and the goal is to get them to zero. Once again, this can end with a lucky headshot, though I accomplished this only a few times. Deadliest Warrior: Legends, on the other hand, plays much like Bushido Blade. There are no life bars showing how much health the fighters possess, and there’s a much greater emphasis on body targeting, meaning decapitation or cutting up enemies till they stop moving. This makes sense as they’re going for a real fight feel, and I do appreciate them trying to be unique.
While they had a lot of great ideas for this one, their execution unfortunately falls short. The fights end up being really boring. Each character has one special move to master, but no combos to execute. For a game about a show that focuses on the technique that goes behind using all of the featured weapons, little strategy is needed to win. I was able win every fight by just shooting all the bullets from my long-range weapon at my opponent, followed by button mashing for the win. This is all you need, and sadly this is all you have.
This ends up being Deadliest Warrior‘s biggest downfall. A lot of the fun that stems from fighting games is the time you put in towards mastering it, and the gratification you feel as enemies you once struggled against are rendered helpless against your masterful onslaught. There is nothing to master here, and the each special move is almost unneeded. While I’ve beaten fighting games without using a special move before, I’ve never played a game before were the option was almost unnecessary. I should mention that the special turns into a fatality of sorts if the opponent’s life bar is less than 30%, but I don’t understand why this is necessary when I could win a battle in as little as three hits.
The graphics and animations could also have used a lot more polish. Glitches range from character’s lips not moving during dialogue (or not matching the audio when they do) to them sheathing their weapon in their stomachs. One time an opponent I was facing attacked my foot and my character’s arm came off. Goofy little things like end up ruining one’s immersion in the game.