Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat Review
Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat is a retail compilation of the two digitally distributed Deadliest Warrior titles by Pipeworks Software and Spike Games – Deadliest Warrior: The Game and Deadliest Warrior: Legends. Also included in the package is a bonus disc with six episodes of the show the games are based on – Deadliest Warrior.
The show pits two historical figures or warrior types against each other and analyses the “Deadliness” of each. This culminates in a calculated battle between the two and a victor is declared. Pipeworks translated this show format precisely as one would expect – Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat contains two fighting games in the vein of Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat.
Deadliest Warrior: The Game features eight “generic” fighters (Apache, Knight, Ninja, Pirate, Samurai, Spartan, Viking, and Roman Centurion) to choose from. Legends gets a bit more specific by including specific significant warriors in history: Alexander the Great, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Hannibal, Hernán Cortés, Shaka Zulu, Sun Tzu, Vlad the Impaler, and William Wallace. Each character in both games has unique moves and features and the team at Pipeworks did an admirable job providing many different weapons and armor options unique to each character in the game.
The Deadliest Warrior games are fairly consistent across title in their control schemes as fighters. Both games control like standard fighters with high, mid, low, and projectile attacks. The games are standard fighters with depth of field, so the fighting isn’t done on a fixed dimensional axis.
Deadliest Warrior: Legends adds grappling, pushing, and parrying to the combat techniques. Of these, grappling is the most interesting, providing the player the ability to break arms and legs, or even instantly kill the opponent.
A Pleasant Surprise
The most interesting element of either of these games is a new mode introduced in Deadliest Warrior: Legends called “Generals” mode. Generals mode puts you in control of a general within a nation of territories. You begin with one territory and a number of brigades. These brigades receive reinforcements every turn, and you are charged with taking over the nation (and destroying your enemy, who is trying to do the same to you) by conquering the territories. In this regard, Generals mode is a lot like Risk.
Beyond this, certain territories have attributes like castles, mountains, hills, plains, and etcetera. Depending on your chosen general these different territories can complement either your abilities or those of your enemies. When your armies fight, this can be the difference between victory and defeat. These gaming mechanics are reminiscent of Civilization. Finally, the fighter genre is incorporated by the inclusion of “champion duels.” Whenever you take over a territory with a castle, the last thing you must do is be victorious in a “champion duel” – a one round fight between your general and the general of the defending army. If you lose, you fail to take over the territory and it remains with one brigade. If you win, you are awarded your choice of one of three character specific perks.
Generals mode is a pleasant surprise tucked away in a traditional fighting game. It was definitely the most unique and enjoyable piece of the Deadliest Warrior experience. Oddly, a thorough perusal of the box art shows this mode isn’t even mentioned. There are a few short sentences about it in the instruction manual, but certainly not enough to give it the respect it deserves.
Both Deadliest Warrior: The Game and Deadliest Warrior: Legends have roughly the same graphical quality. In fact, if you aren’t familiar enough with the games to recognize the different characters, you may not be able to determine which game was which during game play. Graphically, the games are adequate for this generation, but otherwise relatively unremarkable. The games feature relatively simple texturing with decent character models.
The biggest difference between the two games is, oddly, the absence of most of the HUD in Deadliest Warrior: Legends. Strangely, the life bars have been removed from the battle in the second game, which can make it difficult to know quite where you stand in a fight.
Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat is rated “M” for blood and gore, violence, and strong language. I didn’t encounter any of the language, and violence is to be expected in a game where the point is to beat up the other player. However, this is a very gory game. Decapitations are not uncommon, and when you grapple (in Legends) and break limbs, it is a visceral experience. Even in victory, my character regularly had blood splattered all over him.
Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat is a solid if unspectacular game. It is clear the team at Pipeworks put a lot of effort into developing some unique gameplay to wrap around a fairly standard fighter. The team was able to build a reasonable fighting game using the Deadliest Warrior IP.
Simply put, there are plenty of excellent fighting games on the market. The experience of Capcom, NetherRealm, Namco, and SNK with their respective fighting games is virtually impossible to match. Compared to Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, etc, the core game here just cannot compete.
Though respectable, Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat lacks a final polish that could have pushed it into the upper echelon. I encountered some issues with hit detection and there seemed to be some balance issues (I was able to get through the main arcade mode with two combos on the default difficulty) that could be worked out with time.
It isn’t difficult to imagine the developer was under a tight schedule with this game’s development, and it should be noted that while this is a retail release, the games within were XBLA\SEN downloadable titles, and should be judged as such.
The “Generals” mode was an excellent piece to provide real added value and replay-ability to the game. For my playing time, this mode is what gets this game out of the “forgettable” pile.
Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat is a budget release title at $29.99. Even as a budget release I don’t see it staying at full price for long. If you’re a big Deadliest Warrior fan and you haven’t picked this game up, you will be satisfied as long as you know what you’re getting. Ancient Combat does include the downloadable content that is paired with each of the individual titles, which is where the added value comes in. If you’re interested in this game but you don’t feel the need to own every piece of Deadliest Warrior merchandise out there, you might be better served simply picking up Deadliest Warrior: Legends from your preferred digital distribution outlet.
Reverb Communications provided Hardcore Christian Gamer with a review copy of Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat for Xbox 360.
|Title:||Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat|
|Multiplayer:||2 player local versus, 2 player online versus|
|ESRB Rating:||M (Blood and Gore, Violence, Strong Language)|
|Platform:||X-Box 360, Playstation 3|