“Fighting Games Finally Went Realistic, and they did it GREAT.”
An XboxHornet Review by WDesm.
Deadliest Warrior: The Game is my favourite fighting game of the year. There, I said it, and I meant it.
If you have ever played Bushido Blade (1 or 2, back on the PSX), then you will find Deadliest Warrior: The Game to be a comforting friend indeed. Gone are the fireballs, teleports, and ultra combo finishes of more “traditional” genre examples, and these flashy attacks are replaced by a far more realistic fighter, where a single slash to the head can kill you, even from full life. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the rebirth of more serious fighters, where technical timing and reflexes matter more than memorizing button patterns and super moves.
Each fighter starts with a health and stamina bar; while the health bar is a familiar feature, the stamina bar fuels heavy attacks, shield blocks, and Unique Abilities, which are brutal and iconic attacks from each warrior. Players can use one of four attack types: High, Medium, Low, or Special (A “Special” could be a shieldbutt or a roundhouse), plus a very limited amount of ranged weapon attacks. Guard and Dodge buttons round out the features, while the more complicated Parry depends on timing the Guard button against the appropriate height (High, Medium, Low) of the attack.
Combat is meant to be quick, visceral, and ruthless (after all, this is one of the rare few Rated M fighters around). According to Prithvi Virpsinghe, Creative Director on Deadliest Warrior, combat is meant to last between ten and twenty seconds, and they definitely hit their target. In fact, combat can even be over in one second, as putting an arrow or javelin through an opponent’s head can demonstrate. Even without the lucky headshot, however, combat is still over quickly, and the show is bloody: Combos are less technical button memorization and more ‘which attacks lead into other fluid movements,’ and a quick 3-slash attack is often more than enough to brutally decapitate your foe (or rend off an arm and watch them bleed out) if the timing is right. There are still ‘move lists’ for each character, but the attacks are more natural, most likely stemming from the fact that martial artists from the show were motion-captured to provide the animation.
Beyond a simple one-player mode, Deadliest Warrior brings a lot to the table – Mini-games (such as cutting up pig carcasses) recreate scenes from the TV show, while unlockable equipment for each character requires you to play at the peak of your game to see what other, historically-accurate, weapons each warrior has access to. Going beyond weapon unlockables, there are even avatar unlockables, including samurai armor (for beating the game once) and a samurai helm (for beating the game on the highest difficulty with all the characters). Multiplayer adds even more, with both local and online combat. Online combat is supplemented by a fantastic tournament system that doesn’t require any coordination at all: when you start (or continue) a tournament, you are paired up with the first opponent found in the same bracket, which means that you can play a few rounds, and then take time off, even a few days, before continuing at that exact same spot (albeit with new opponents) in the tournament ranking.
Ultimately, I was surprised at the depth of content, the complexity of the fight system, and the departure from the usual fighting genre. Deadliest Warrior has brought new life and new content to the genre and to XBLA, and with the hint of new DLC warriors in the future, I really can’t see a single fault with the game. Plus, that Avatar Samurai helm looks pretty spiffy.
Game Score: 10/10.
Download a free demo of the game here.