Short Version: Deadliest Warrior: The Game is one of the most gruesome and thoroughly enjoyable games on the Xbox Live Market Place, but the game is overly simplistic and doesn't stir up enough variation to keep me playing it into next week.
After a hands-on with Deadliest Warrior: The Game at E3, I was genuinely excited for the title. I was -- and still am -- a huge fan of the show, and a game based on the premise of famous warriors throughout history killing each other to see who the strongest sounded like a lot of fun -- I wasn't wrong.
The first thing I did when I booted up the game for the first time was check out all of the different warriors. There are a total of eight to choose from including the Ninja, Spartan, Viking, Knight, Pirate, Samurai, Apache, and Centurian. All of the warriors have different strengths and weaknesses and for the most part the classes are pretty balanced. Characters that carry shields are slower but take a lot less damage when they block, armored warriors can take a considerable amount more damage, and warriors that have no armor are incredibly fast and as a result can tear off most of your limbs before you hit the ground. However, you certainly won't think the classes are that balanced when you first start playing because the Ninja and Apache will take you to school and have you swearing relentlessly at your television and maybe some unfortunate family members.
The stages included in the game are beautiful and some even have different key points that players can interact with. The Bamboo Sanctuary has bamboo that you can cut down and the Fight Lab features rotting pig carcasses that you can chop in half or knock off of their meat hooks. Yeah, the stages are pretty great, but there are only five of them! You start off with four stages including The Ampitheatre, Jungle Temple, Castle Courtyard, and Bamboo Sanctuary, while you unlock the Fight Lab by going through the campaign.
After I got my bearing I went into the Arcade Mode. This mode is laid out in a fashion similar to that of Super Smash Bros. There are different fighters at different symbols placed on the map and you continually progress until you kill each warrior. There are also bonus challenges along the path to become the Deadliest Warrior, such as "Cut up all the pig carcasses" and "Slice this guy's limbs off" which are based off of the show's testing methods. Beating these different challenges unlocks new weapons, but if you screw up on one then tough deal, you will have to go through with the same warrior to try again.
One thing I found odd about the campaign was the fact that the same warriors would eventually fight each other, I mean doesn't that defeat the purpose of fighting to see who the "Deadliest Warrior" is? I mean if a Ninja and a Ninja square off that just means that 100% of the time a Ninja will be the Deadliest Warrior, but you quickly overcome this minor inconsistency because you unlock new armor when you kill him, err... yourself.
One huge thing I realized when I booted up my first match was just how badly I was getting beat by the CPUs. The game's difficulty comes pre-set on Hard Mode, so I went into the "Help & Options" option and I changed the difficulty to Normal. I got pumped because I thought it would still be challenging, but it turns out I was wrong -- Normal mode is like drowning-kittens easy. I was curious to see what other difficulties there were so I went back into the options and realized that they had three to choose from: Normal, Hard, and Deadliest. I just wanted to screw around so I set it to Deadliest... NEVER do this because if you haven't assembled some kind of skill by that point in time you will die immediately and likely become extremely frustrated.
The actual combat in the game is a lot of fun, and there is certainly some difficulty in adjusting to fighting. The first thing you'll notice is that you lose a lot of health when you get hit, and it makes sense that you should because it's unlikely that you are going to get bludgeoned 30 times by a horse jaw tomahawk and still win a fight. While on the battle field you have an arsenal of three different weapons that you choose before each match, these consist of a short-range weapon, a medium-range weapon, and a long-range weapon. Deciding when to use each weapon is a big part of the strategy, but a bigger part is blocking. If you do not block you will die, this is a proven fact. You may get lucky once or twice, but you need to master the art of the block and/or dodge.
Deadliest Warrior is going for something a little more realistic and you certainly get that feel anytime you slice an opponent's head off. Limbs and body fluids will go flying almost anytime you play, and one thing I found ridiculously awesome was that I could have my arm cut completely off and still keep fighting with blood pouring out of my mutilated stump. Some of the best remedies for removing a limb in the game happen when you execute a warrior's finishing move. The finishing move is different for each warrior, but for the most part there is nothing more satisfying then pummeling your opponent enough to unleash a move that you know has killed them a little inside.
The finishers are great, well, almost all of them. You would assume that the Spartan's move would look tremendously bad ass, but all he does is run at his opponent, jump up in the air, and THEN poke him in the shoulder a little with his sword causing the opponent to collapse and die. I think I actually yelled, "What the F*ck was that?!" after watching my hero kill a man by poking him in the shoulder a little.
After you complete the Arcade Mode with each of the warriors you unlock "Challenge Mode". This mode is pretty awesome, as it squares you off with waves upon waves of easy to kill enemies. You can play to try to get as many decapitations as you can, or you can just try Survival mode and see how long you can last against the never ending enemies. It's a nice little bonus to keep fans playing the game a little longer, because after everything is unlocked there really isn't much to do.
I went into the multiplayer option and started looking for a game. It occasionally reported that there were no available games, but I just left tried again and it would usually find a host right away. There was literally no lag at all during online play, and this stunned me. Everything ran just like I was playing a computer and it was great. I picked the Knight and destroyed some kids in my first two fights, and it was probably because I'm awesome, but let's not dwell on that fact.
I then noticed there was an option called "Tournament". It sounded great to me so I selected that and it threw me in a game. In order to win a tournament you must win three tournament matches in a row, which sounds simple enough. Now, have you ever experienced those whiny kids who come on Halo and want help getting achievements? Yeah, well you would much rather encounter one of those kids then the cheaters that you'll find in the Tournament mode in Deadliest Warrior. Apparently everyone in this mode is trying to get the achievement that is linked to winning 10 tournament matches which is fine, but anytime I beat those players they quit before it could register my win. So I would kill them and win the match, but they would quit and because there are no repercussions for quitting, it would appear as if they had never lost, so they just went on their merry way in an attempt to still win three in a row.
Yes, the graphics. The graphics in Deadliest Warrior are top-notch, and with the exception of a few hiccups are easily some of the best on Xbox Live Arcade. There are some problems with certain characters as the enter into the battle. The best example I can think of is the Spartan's entrance which is mildly choppy and none too pretty to look at. Another tiny problem occurs when a limb is removed, the limb will fall to the ground and appear to have planted itself, the result is what looks like a bloody tree stump sticking out of the ground. Other than these the graphics are really a non-issue.
The sound is good, but simultaneously terrible. The swords clashing, shields blocking, and amputations sound great, but it really takes a turn for the worst when some of the warriors speak. The Ninja sounds like the voice actor recorded the dialogue through a Little Tikes voice recorder, it's very raunchy sounding. I'm not sure if they were going for a muffled effect because the Ninja is speaking through his mask, but the end result just sounds terrible.
Overall, Deadliest Warrior: The Game is a ton of fun to play, but the only real problem is that it just doesn't have enough to keep it interesting. There will be DLC in the future for the title and I'm excited for that, but odds are that that will only get me to play the game for another hour or so before I get bored of the new warriors, weapons, and stages. I highly recommend that you download the trial for the game and see what you think. It's not everybody's cup of tea, but it can be a ton of fun -- especially with friends. The game is only $10, so if you are feeling bored one evening this will certainly give you something thoroughly entertaining to do.