Deadliest Warrior saw a release on the PSN and XBLA two years ago. One year later, Deadliest Warrior: Legends was released as a separate, yet similar game to the original. Now, one year after the release of the last game, 345 Games and Spike Games have released a compilation disc that contains both the original and Legends, entitled Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat. If that wasn’t enough, this game comes with six full episodes of the TV show on DVD. Sound like an interesting medley of offerings? Well, it is, but let’s just take a look at the game itself.
The game, much like the television show, places some of history’s most notorious warriors against each other for the honorary title of “Deadliest Warrior”. This game is laid out as a fighting game, and the player must choose their favorite warrior to go into battle with. Just the choices alone (like battling a ninja with a pirate) are awesome and half the fun of this game. However, this is more of a tactical fighting game than a button-masher, so it doesn’t take much to kill your opponent, and instant kills are plentiful. Therefore, you have to be precise, choose your opening, and go for the kill, all while maintaining a strong defense. During the campaign, you have the choice between a short-range or a mid-range weapon, but you always carry a long-range weapon into battle. If you manage to strike a critical area, you can score an instant kill, which is realistic and makes you pick your strikes more carefully. You can also disable your opponent by chopping off limbs, which is gruesome, but incredibly satisfying.
Fighting fans may not be used to this style, especially with Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat dominating the genre. If given a chance, this game could catch some fans off guard, because it is such a departure from the standard fighting game. The fighting mechanics are a little off, but they work well and deliver an experience that is certainly unique in this marketplace. This game certainly does not have a very deep fighting system or complicated move sets, so if you like a simple fighting game, this will certainly appeal to you.
Unfortunately, this particular package has some issues and oddities that may throw off potential fighting fans. On the disc, you get a copy of the original Deadliest Warrior game, which was a downloadable title released two years ago. You also get a copy of the newer (but still slightly old) game, Deadliest Warrior: Legends. The game boots into a menu where you can choose which version of the game you want to play: the old game or the newer one. Essentially, the two games are very similar in style and function. The only difference between the two is that in the original game, you play as a type of generic warrior, like a ninja or viking; in the new game you play as famous warriors, like Alexander the Great or Vlad the Impaler. The new game also has more weapon types and unlockables, like armor color and additional weapons. No matter which game you choose, you get a very similar experience.
From a technical standpoint, these games have some significant issues. Ancient Combat has many, very long loading screens, and it could take one to two minutes between games. This is really unacceptable, especially when you compare it to much speedier games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. In addition to lengthy load times, the visuals of this game are very poor. This game doesn’t look like a modern game, but rather a slightly improved Playstation 2 / Xbox / Gamecube game. A title like this certainly does not have to be on the cutting edge of graphical technology, but it certainly could have made better use of the hardware of this generation. Finally, this title is essentially a physical copy of two downloadable games for double the price of both titles combined. There is a serious value issue here that essentially holds this title back. To make up for this, there is a companion disc that contains six episodes of the show included with the game. While fans of the show many appreciate this effort to create value, its effectiveness is questionable at best.
Overall, Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat is a mixed bag. On one hand, you have a serviceable fighting game that brings an interesting twist to the table. However, the graphics are poor, both games have already been available for a long time, and the addition of six old episodes from season one of the television show create an issue of whether or not this package is worth the $30 dollar MSRP. This is one of those borderline situations where you have to ask yourself how you feel about Deadliest Warrior and fighting games in general. Considering that both of these titles are available to download now, any fans that this would appeal to already have one or both games. The extra few episodes of the show really shouldn’t sway anyone towards purchasing a hard copy of two games they probably already have. Therefore, unless you really want to support Deadliest Warrior or you have to have a hard copy of your downloadable games, you should avoid this bundle and just re-download the original titles.
This review is based on a review copy of the Xbox 360 version of Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat by Spike Games