The old playground debate of who would win in a fight has been addressed in Spike TV’s amusing show Deadliest Warrior. To compensate that developer Pipeworks Software has released this novel fighting game for Xbox Live Arcade. At first glance it appears to be a cheap knock-off that offers very little in variety, but upon closer inspection we discovered that this game rekindles that old activity of screaming at the TV screen as you lob someone’s head off within two seconds of starting the fight. If you can get past the quirks and learn to accept it for what it is, Deadliest Warrior can certainly be loads of fun with friends.
Based on the Spike TV show, Deadliest Warrior asks the ultimate “what if” question. Imagine pitting a pirate against a ninja, or for the more obscure a samurai against a knight. These match-ups are drawn out on the show by taking the strengths and weaknesses of each warrior. The game however feels more reminiscent to Square’s classic Bushido Blade series. One well-placed strike can end the match instantly, and that is the best part. There are few things more satisfying than lobbing off your opponent’s head just seconds after the match starts.
The first time you boot up the game it is important to remember that this isn’t your daddy’s fighting game. Mashing away on button combos and attempting to learn hit boxes will get you nowhere. Every fighter has their own strengths, and learning each one and when to use them is key. This game is not going to show up at any professional tournaments, nor is it going to be dissected for its immense depth, but it can provide some truly entertaining matches both against human opponents and artificial ones. Each character has a high, mid and low attack, as well as a ranged move. Yes it is entirely possible to end the match right from the start with a well-placed arrow to the skull, but it isn’t likely.
The draw here is definitely not the custom combos or miles of depth. Instead fans of Mortal Kombat will enjoy watching heads and limbs fly. It is entirely possible to dismember your opponent down to their torso, and the game is not afraid to show it on screen. Finishing moves can be performed simply by pulling off your special move as the final blow. Blow fills the screen as you hack and slash away at your opponent. Gamers who could care less about learning the perfect timing and counting frames should definitely find plenty to enjoy as they slice off the head of yet another victim.
One area that the game does lack though is modes. There is literally the standard arcade mode, where you fight a ladder of enemies, and the online portion. There is a training ground but it is pretty useless after a couple matches. Online works well enough to make it fun. There were spots of lag from time to time, and precision can definitely be impaired, but who cares when body parts are flying and truly the game is immensely entertaining whether you are winning or losing. Pipeworks has promised future DLC in the form of more characters from later seasons of the show. I hope they come through with it as the default roster will grow tired quickly, but sales will determine the fate of that content.
Visually the game gets by but does nothing to deviate itself. The animations are good, but oftentimes your characters will fall into that traditional ragdoll animation and things get wonky. The environments are good, but after a while start to bleed together. I do love the animations of death as it never gets old seeing someone’s head go flying across the screen. The amount of blood is uncanny to say the least. There are also some hints of frame stuttering where it feels like the game is trying to catch up with itself. The sound is equally unimpressive with just a few generic lines of dialogue and a disappointing soundtrack. Everything here just feels dated.
Overall Deadliest Warrior is a game that casual fighting game fans will enjoy simply because of the instant gratification. There is a lot to be said about a game that manages to satisfy your primal violent tendencies while still being fun. Those looking for depth or expecting the next tournament fighter are in for disappointment, but everyone else should find plenty to enjoy. Here is to hoping the DLC manages to make its way into our hands. I can see myself firing up this game at social gatherings if for nothing more than its shock value and ability to entertain.
Review copy provided by publisher.