Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat is based off the hit Spike TV show, Deadliest Warrior, which pits two combatants from history against each other in a battle to the death. It was only a matter of time before games based on this concept would make their way to consoles. The concept is brilliant and on paper sounds like it would be an amazing experience as the show itself is very well done, but something is just lost in the transition to the game world. It is still able to pull off a enjoyable experience if you can look past its flaws though.
Ancient Combat is not a new title to the Deadliest Warrior franchise, but instead contains both of the already released downloadable titles Deadliest Warrior: The Game and Deadliest Warrior: Legends. It also features the DLC for both titles, some new content and even a brand new arena, the Graveyard, which will be coming to the TV show. There are also six episodes from Season 3 included on a separate disc to round out all of the content included in this meager $29.99 package.
In Deadliest Warrior: The Game you are able to pit a pirate against a ninja against a Spartan warrior against others in a 3D battleground. These cool what-if battles are exactly what make the show enjoyable and here in the game the concept is still awesome. As I select my cigar smoking pirate and square off against a Viking, my excitement is just oozing out. That is, at least, until the match ends from a single hit. Deadliest Warrior does not play like a traditional fighting game such as Street Fighter or even Mortal Kombat. While there is still a health bar, a single well-placed shot could end the fight prematurely.
I wouldn’t say that the game lacks strategy; it’s just a different type of fighter than the aforementioned titles. Blocking and evading is the key to survival here. Prior to the match you are able to select from different weapon and armor sets that you have unlocked. Each character comes equipped with both a short and long weapon as well as ranged attack with limited uses. Don’t expect to be entering in complicated combo combinations because they are nowhere to be found, but there are moves that can be entered by three buttons presses.
Fights can be over in less than ten seconds and you could be facing an opponent with a missing limb that is squirting blood all over the ground if you have a well-placed attack. Using your special attack when your opponent is low on health will trigger a finishing move that will more often than not chop limbs off or simply decapitate your opponent…or both.
Outside of a training mode and the current ghost town of an online community, there isn’t much to do outside of the main ladder mode and local multiplayer. Here you will work your way through eight fighters and breaking up the fights are interesting mini-games that will have you chopping down meat to chopping limbs off as quick as possible. Completing these will unlock new weapons or armor for you to choose from at the start of the matches. Everything has varying stats, so picking the best weapon for your play style is integral. For those who enjoy dressing up their avatar, there are a few costumes that can be unlocked for completing the arcade mode with certain fighters.
Visually the game is lacking in the technical department, but makes up for it with plenty of violence, blood and rolling heads. I actually enjoyed the character designs, but felt that the environments needed more work than anything. The interactive parts of the environment do help hide the shortcomings, things such as being able to chop bamboo down, that help make it interesting mid-fight.
Deadliest Warrior: Legends is the second title to be released and changes the concept from anonymous fighters to figures rich with world history. Now you will be able to take such historic figures such as Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, William Wallace and Alexander the Great, just to name a few, into battle against one another. Combat still takes place in various 3D environments and makes some slight modifications to how the first game was played. This time around there is no health meter and you are forced to judge your health based on the amount of blood dripping from your body. However, if you are caught with a critical hit you can still be downed with a single blow. New to the franchise is the use of grappling. Tough to pull off, grappling has the biggest risk vs. reward as missing a grapple leaves you open to punishment, but if you connect you are able to either disable your opponents arm or leg or even finish them off.
The newly added General Mode plays out like the classic tabletop game, Risk, mixing in fights when needed. You are able to play against a computer or a local opponent, but I would have liked to see this mode added online as I think it’s one of the better modes to play. Visually the game looks tighter and more improved than the first, but it still isn’t jaw breaking. Legends still has those unique mini-games, but I had more trouble with them than in the original game. One in particular didn’t have any instructions prior to loading, and in fact I didn’t know it was loading a mini-game, but 3 seconds later my character was missing his head and I was prompted with a failure message on screen. Maybe I was supposed to stick my tongue out before getting my head cleanly chopped off.
Each of the games were originally priced at $10, but the inclusion of all the DLC as well as the six episodes from the show has set the $30 price tag. Even then the game packs a lot into this budget price. If you don’t own the titles and are a fan of the series I would recommend picking this game up over buying them separately online. Ancient Combat is not a traditional fighting game and it will have limited appeal to those fighting game traditionalist, but to those who can keep an open mind there is fun to be had as you are tossing spears through heads and letting the bodies hit the floor.
Note: The Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat review was written based on the Xbox 360 version of the game provided by the publisher.