Deadliest Warrior: The Game Review

Deadliest Warrior: The Game Review

Deadliest Warrior: The Game review by Gohda_Motohide.

Deadliest Warrior, the game. The newest thing from Pipeworks Software, based on the show that I've never seen, yet still I know pretty well that their method of testing of fairly bad. Basically, we're in for a ride.

The first thing I should mention, is the price. At only $10/800MSP, it's not that bad of a deal, at least not if this is your kinda thing. I must stress - try the demo first. Don't just buy it outright.

First thing we'll notice, is load times are pretty bad. I clocked mine in at varying times between 10 and 15 seconds. Which wouldn't be bad, if it weren't for there being two or three loading screens between fights. As well, the gameplay itself is muddled in a very odd, sporadic lag. Sometimes it happens due to the slowdown effect (And I don't mean the slowdown is lag, I mean after a slowdown ends, it lags).

I can't describe it very well, but I'll say this - odds are, if you've played a game like, say, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl, or Elder Scrolls 4 Oblivion, or Fallout 3, you probably know it, since this lag is what it instantly reminded me of, the sort of unexplained slowdowns that happen in a game with a bad engine. Personally, it seems tied to the warpy effects they applied to moving weapons and shields, so odds are that you'll lag out when you need speed the most, during the middle of the fight.

Customization, something they've been touting in previews, is pretty much nil. As far as I can tell, each character gets one change of weapon each, and one change of outfit. Outfits can be colored, a bit, but the colors are mostly bad. You can pick one of eight colors, including default, for both outfits that a character gets. I wanted to color the Centurion a nice, rich, deep purple, the kind Roman commanders had, but purple isn't available.

Of the available colors, most of them are oddly faded, washed out, or downright pastel. There's no good red for the Pirate's jacket. There's no good blue for the Ninja. It's hard to really call it customization, especially when I noticed that the CPU uses my colors at all times, when it should really pick a random one when it spawns the AI warrior. Always, what's with the sick little joke of nearly every character having light, pastel pink as a color? It's not even a satisfying magenta-like pink, it's more like Hello Kitty pink.

Sound design is adequate. It's certainly not very realistic nor particularly visceral, but it works. Music is generally in the form of interesting little diddies that match the warrior that is being shown during the intro or after winning. There is no soundtrack during combat, which is probably as it should be. I am rather perturbed by a few sounds, though, such as the very loud, unfitting crunch that happens when a flintlock hits the ground.

Graphically, the game is acceptable. I'm not a big graphics person, but someone who is, will almost certainly find issue with the graphics. I'm sure they'll compare it to a PS1 or PS2 game. Cutting off limbs reminds me of Dead Rising, mostly because of the brightly colored meat texture on the inside of the limb. If you're the kind of gamer thinks that all games should have the gore of something like Fallout 3, or Gears of War, of God of War, or what have you, you'll probably want to avoid Deadliest Warrior for it's gore - it's fairly clean and clinical, with the slices being perfect.

Blood isn't realistic looking nor acting in any way. Decals are large splashes of fairly brightly color blood and indistinct chunks - similar most, I would say, to Dead Rising or Dead Space - which quickly cover the characters, rather than having, say, slash marks cover them. I said "acting" up there, because during finishing moves or after winning the battle, the dead enemy will bleed out a black pool seemingly until it encompasses a 20 to 30 foot radius from the body. I'm not joking. That thing gets huge as hell. As well, there aren't really blood spurts, not the kind you'd expect. I would expect stuff like throat slashings to have gouts of blood flowing out, but not so. Same with limbs. It seems more like the characters are toys than people in that regard.

Animations are passable, but could be better - for instance, I noticed that the Knight's left hand is not aligned at all with the handle of his shield, and some of the weapons, like the Viking's long axe, never seem to hit square, instead it's kinda at an angle, which just screams bad animation to me. Overall, though, I don't take offense at the graphics, I'm not that kind of person.. Models work, although some could be done better. The ninjato is around the size of a wakizashi, which makes it almost indistinguishable from the Ninja unlock, which is a wakizashi; the katana has nearly no curve (Although I will admit, I'm much more of a fan of deeply curved blades than straighter ones) and, to me, seems a bit small compared to the Samurai himself. Due to the slowmo, you see alot of stuff like the Knight's sword moving through a body like butter - not while attacking, mind you, but just in general.

There are some graphical glitches, however. At one point, during the matchup screen with the Apache, my character model mysteriously was ALSO an Apache, despite not playing as him yet. Quite unprofessional, frankly. As well, I note some issues with limbs sticking up from the inside the ground (Indicative of a wonky physics box), and heads either bouncing around when still attached to the body, or spinning like a top when not. It's actually rather entertaining, in a sick way. As well, playing as the Knight, I found that if you stand over the body of your enemy after winning, he'll jab the sword into the body, which causes a crunchy sound and, I imagine, might also cause after-battle amputations.

The AI is both poor and yet insanely good at the game. At one point, I paused early in a match to check the movelist - I have no idea how, but by doing this, I was able to effectively stall the CPU player. He would just stand there, until I hit him. That's a pretty bad glitch. I should try to exploit that more. Meanwhile, on the other side of it, the AI can block instantly, as well as dodge as if you had telegraphed the attack from a mile away - while you seem to not be able to. Blocking, for the player, seems to be based on a 1-second waiting time, which is very bad when you've got an attack incoming already.

Furthermore, if the enemy has a shield - which around half of them do - prepare for some very inconsistent playing experiences. They will block the entire time, until you break their shield, yet they can attack and go back to blocking almost instantly. It seems entirely fruitless, and, indeed, when I had lost my first, second, third, fourth, and fifth fight in a row after buying it, I suddenly felt buyer's remorse. This shield imbalance is most obvious with the Spartan, due to his spear not requiring two hands, while his shield covers his entire front, and it can take an unholy amount of punishment.

Generally speaking, if you're not a God of the fighting game genre, you may have issues with fighting the AI.

On the subject of blocking, weapons and shields don't take up physical space when not attacking or defending. In the Bushido Blade games, there were moments your life may be saved because the sword that you are holding in front of you saves you from the incoming attack, because it takes up physical space. Not so here, attacks pass through.

The fighting proper is based on performing combos, from 2 to 4 hit. There's a small variety of them (Around 10 per weapon, I would say), but generally speaking, you'll find just a couple that are useful. As an example, with the Pirate. Y, X, A. This is a slash, headbutt, and pistol shot followup. Yeah. Considering that the Pirate can hold three flintlock pistols, that combo will get you all the way through the game. You basically cannot win by just mashing buttons, I've tried out of curiosity. At the same time, most combos will prove useless, due to either low damage, long recovery time, or knocking the opponent out of the way to continue following up. Most of the time, one of the 4 hit combos is enough to kill or nearly kill anyone who doesn't have a shield, except the Knight due to his unholy amounts of armor.

Special moves are a combination of overpowered in some cases, and almost worthless in others. An example is the Ninja. The black egg trick, if it lands (Which it usually does), will always stun the enemy and leave them other for an attack, allowing for a very quick win. On the other side of it, the Pirate's grenado doesn't have much in the way of range (The guy basically drops it as if it's just a firecracker - even though if it kills, it mysteriously rips every limb off of the body. An easy way to get the Black Knight achievement), but due to the fuse on it, more often than not the enemy can just dodge. Or casually stroll away at their leisure. Now, I get that these are situational, for instance, you only, ONLY want to use the grenado if the enemy is in a corner or stunned, but that very situational nature hinders it very badly.

To unlock items, basically, you just play Arcade as each character. Aside from winning some items just by winning fights, there are two challenges in between the fights, both which have an item tied to winning them. The first, is just run around the Deadliest Warriors lab and kill some hanging meat. No problem, basically can't lose. The second, gets into real screwy territory. It's basically a 1-hit-kill mode, between you and some random warrior. No retries or nothing, any melee hit will rip off your limb and that's it, done. The problem? They can still block. They can still perform the same kind of stuff I described above. Worse yet, attacks have to land on the body. Hitting their shield won't win it, if anything, due to the recovery time after a combo, you'll just get killed. Not fun in the slightest.

Balance is pretty much all over the place. Now, I can understand that, by the very nature of the way it's designed, balance will be like that. But it's relatively unforgivable at points. Ranged weapons seem to randomly hit the head and cause an instant win or loss. My very first round, literally, the FIRST ONE out of the box, ended in a few seconds because the CPU Spartan headshot me with his javelin. Nothing kills your enthusiasm for a game like being killed in seconds of starting.

To further elaborate on the balance, let's take an example here, the Ninja, versus a Knight. While the Ninja has speed, I guess, that really won't help you much due to being sort-of stuck on the same axis as the enemy at all times. The Knight can kill you in one single combo (And he has, more than a dozen times just so far - I'll continue trying as I write), and besides that, his shield and armor mitigate almost all of the attacks you can do to him.

Even stunning with the black egg (Because by this point, I don't care enough to not cheese my way through the game) isn't enough, because of how much damage he can take from your dinky little weapons. Hey, I finally beat the Knight after 20 some odd tries. It gets worse. The Apache can kill in one single combo with either his bowie OR his tomahawks. Since you can't block nor dodge while performing any action, and recoil from getting hit is counted as an action, if you get touched by the start of a combo, you'll be dead by the end. But luckily noone else has the same kind of defense as the Knight does, so just hit them with a long combo and you win.

I don't have a Gold account, so I can't speak for any online gameplay. The entirety of this review is based on singleplayer, but, honestly, knowing how people tend to take the path of least resistance/most wins in multiplayer games, you'll likely see some of the balance issues crop up, especially when more people buy it. As of right now, it's 10:09am on the day of release, so I'm sure there will be specific moves and characters dominating scoreboards online within a week.

I've heard that it's basically a spiritual successor (A term I hate, by the way) to the Bushido Blade series. This is what got me most excited for it. I'll tell you right here, it's not. It really isn't. The hardest difficulty doesn't stop it from being based entirely around an HP bar, which runs contrary to Bushido Blade's system. The focus on combos goes against the ideal of single-stroke victories in the BB series - sure, BB had combos, but most of the time, those were meaningless. The projectiles attacks are probably the most BB-like part of this game, but even then, one bullet, a sword, etc into the chest or head would kill in BB. At least headshots kill here as well. Shields, especially, fly in the face of it being really "like" Bushido Blade, which is a detriment in my mind, but that's just bias due to enjoying the BB series alot more than this game. Man, I hope they make a new one eventually.

All around, I could give the game either a 5 out of 10, or a 6 out of 10. Considering that the Knight of Death is dead, I'll give it a 6/10. But really? It's not an impressive game, and I feel it probably deserves 5/10 more than 6/10. I hope it can be made better, that's for sure, considering that I own it. I'd like to see glitches and lag fixed, better loading times, hopefully an option that really DOES make it like Bushido Blade, more characters such as the Rajput, Aztec, or the Hunnic warriors, so forth. But as it stands, it's really very pedestrian and not put together nearly as well as it should be, with too much of a focus on being just another fighting game. It feels, to me, like a game that wasn't give any real care or affection by the people who were making it, which is the surest way to kill the real potential of a game.

The concept of the game - literally, just putting two random dudes from different places and times together and seeing who wins - has so much potential that isn't unlocked at all by this game. It's a real shame.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10, Originally Posted: 07/15/10
Game Release: Deadliest Warrior: The Game (US, 07/14/10)