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Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat Review (PS3)

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Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat Screenshot 1

Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat Screenshot 1

Image © 345 Games
The match-ups for the latest fighting game, "Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat," sound like something that should make for a slam-dunk guilty pleasure. "Ninja vs. Centurion." "Pirate vs. Samurai." "Joan of Arc vs. Genghis Khan." History meets fighting games -- how could that go wrong? Sadly, "Ancient Combat" wastes this strong foundation by delivering an inconsistent game with long load times, unrefined combat, and a weak presentation. Fans of the Spike TV show may be curious (and the game comes with a DVD with six episodes) but everyone else should choose a different title for their fighting fix.

Game Details

  • Publisher: 345 Games
  • Developer: Pipeworks Software
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Genre: Fighting
  • Pros: Clever character choices, fun weapon options, get all the DLC in one place
  • Cons: Load times, poor graphics & audio, inconsistent combat, awful launch system

"Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat" is actually just a compilation disc -- a title that bundles the two games that were previously available on the PlayStation Network ("Deadliest Warrior: The Game" and "Deadliest Warrior: Legends") along with all off the various DLC released for both titles and compiles them into one release. The developers added a few new bells and whistles, but don't even think about buying this if you already have the two games on your hard drive. This is for those of you who have held off or don't have enough credit at the PlayStation Store. While it may seem like a "bang for your buck" release, compiling all the gaming in the "Deadliest Warrior" universe into one release only highlights their significant flaws.

Gameplay

Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat Screenshot 2

Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat Screenshot 2

Image © 345 Games

"Deadliest Warrior" should be hard to mess up. The very concept of being able to wield William Wallace's sword against Vlad the Impaler in a fight to the death is something that fighting game fans would likely eat up and ask for more. It almost makes the failure of this game all the more frustrating. One hopes that the team at 345 Games could find another developer, release a third game, and correct the significant wrongs of these two. Every time "DW" starts to live up to its potential, something drags it down again.

And there's some evidence that it could happen given the fact that "Legends," the second release, is significantly better than "Deadliest Warrior: The Game," which is nearly awful. The combat is so inconsistent as to make outcomes unpredictable and the long load times and poor graphics only exacerbate the pain. It's a really awful game that one should play once and never again.

However, "Legends" improves on some of the gigantic flaws of its predecessor. First, the addition of historical characters like Genghis Khan and Joan of Arc adds a bit of clever fun. The moves are easier to initiate and master. And the presentation is significantly more polished. It's still a frustrating game but nowhere near as much so as the first release. It also includes a fun mini-game called "Generals," which is kind of like "Risk" meets "Mortal Kombat." The player uses strategy on a game board and must win fights to take castles or win the game. It's a nice mix but it will mostly just make you want to play the games that inspired it (especially considering the general greatness of "Risk: Factions" and the recent iteration of "MK.")

Graphics & Sound

The game looks horrendous. People get sliced once and nothing happens and the sword swings back the other way as blood shoots out but you can see air between blade and skin. The backgrounds are boring. Some of the character design, especially in "Legends," is pretty interesting, but that's the only minor compliment one can pay in terms of graphics. And the audio isn't much better. It often doesn't sync with the action, even in animations after a fight (watch as Joan of Arc's lips move and her voice comes a full second later for something that wouldn't have been technically acceptable in 2002).

Bottom Line

Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat Screenshot 3

Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat Screenshot 3

Image © 345 Games
Fighting games are in something of a renaissance with great releases in the "Soul Calibur," "Mortal Kombat," and "Tekken" franchises. Into this challenging arena for the fighting game dollar limps this TV-inspired release, one that works only for fans of the TV show. Or anyone who can't get enough of Vlad the Impaler.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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