Thursday, July 15, 2010

Xbox Live Arcade's Deadliest Warrior

There's a new game on Xbox Live Arcade, and it's ready to kick some serious ass.

I'm talking about "Deadliest Warrior"- based on the TV series of the same name.

For only 800 MS points, you get a 3rd person fighting game that features opponents from different historical eras, armed with melee and some ranged weapons, ready to hack each others limbs and heads off. It's a lot of gruesome, bloody fun.


The Ninja- this sneaky, pajama-clad assassin from Japan brings a Ninjato sword and a chain thingey to the rumble, with some shuriken in reserve. While's he's about as armored as a Kleenex, he can hop and jump all over the screen. He's super-fast, too.

The Samurai- for real warfare, the Samurai comes equipped with a Katana, a Spear/blade thingey, a bow and arrow and some bad-ass armor. The Samurai can slice and dice fast, but isn't as nimble on his feet as the Ninja. And while he may have been able to take out a horde of soldiers, one-on-one doesn't seem his forte.

The Apache Warrior- I laughed when I first saw this guy included. His body paint offers less protection than the ninja's pajamas. But he has a stone knife, some hatchets, a bow and arrow, and dances around like a pansy just as good as the Ninja. Very annoying to lose to this guy when you're covered in armor plate.

The Spartan- with a shield big enough to go sledding on, a short sword, a thrusting spear and some javelins, and bronze armor, the Spartan is a bad dude. He strikes super quick, over and over, without getting tired.

The Centurion- Rome's Empire lasted a thousand years, so the Centurion is not to be trifled with. He's basically the iron-age version of the Spartan, with a smaller shield, a better sword, javelins and spear. He's not as fast as a Spartan, and can knock you down with his lighter shield.

The Viking- Santa Claus is coming to town, and he's got chainmail armor, a sword, a huge axe and a wooden shield. For naughty boys that run away, he's got two javelins. The Viking is big, strong but a little slow.

The Knight- Anybody got a can opener? Cause this knight is covered head to toe in metal plate. And he has a shield. He wields a crusader-looking sword, a poleaxe and has a crossbow he recocks using his feet.

The Pirate- This drunken boob has a cutlass, a dagger, a flintlock pistol and can kick you like the jackass he is.


One thing I always hated about fighting games was trying to remember all the complicated special moves. Up+down+side+up+throw-my-controller-at-the-TV.

Deadliest Warrior keeps it simple. Left stick moves you around. Y button is a high attack, X a mid-level, A a low-level. B triggers your ranged attack. Squeeze either trigger and you block- by lifting a shield or weapon. Left bumper switches your weapons- for example from sword-and-shield to battleaxe. On some guys, the right stick triggers a special move, like the Ninja's cheerleader cartwheel, or the Pirate's nutcracker kick (at least I think so- I personally don't play pajama boys or sots)

The match (a 1, 3 or 5 round bout) starts with each fighter facing each other on opposite sides of the screen. You can lob spears, 'stars or gunshots at your foe, or charge in. Unlike older fighting games, you can't just mash buttons to win (a tactic I used to employ against my wife on the Sega Genesis, irritating her to no end). For one, your fighter will tire if you mash buttons over and over. For another, he actually exposes himself to counterstrikes. For example, if I use a Spartan, I move in, shield up and let my opponent strike first. As he recovers from his strike, I unleash a barrage of sword attacks, most of which land on his mid-section. Similarly, when using a thrusting spear, aim for the mid-section, even against shield-bearing opponents, and you seem to do better. On the other hand, when my Santa Viking uses the battleaxe, I find a high-level attack works best, arcing the axehead down from above.

During a match, you might want to switch weapons. You start with a light weapon, say a shield and sword, that work fairly well together. If you switch to your heavy weapon, say, Santa's Axe, you can't use your shield, and your attack is slower. I highly recomend against trying to chop wood against a more nimble opponent like the Sleepover Ninja.

As you take hits, your health bar is depleted, until you are felled. The graphics are fairly graphic, too. You'll see fighters with spears sticking out of their chests, or with limbs lopped off, squirting blood from stumps like Monty Python's Holy Grail Black Knight. Heads come off too.

At the end of the round, the winner has a little animation where he rubs it in he just kicked your ass. Oh, and you can taunt enemies in combat by pressing the back button, trigger an animation. Santa the Red for example bangs his sword on his shield, throws back his head and says "Ho, ho, ho" (okay, maybe not, but he does yell). When you taunt, you're open for attack.


But wait! There's more! If you play single Player arcade mode, you can unlock better gear. Santa can replace his sword with a hatchet that is great for punching through armor. He upgrades his battleaxe to a halberdy-looking thing, and he trades his two, individually-thrown spears for two dual- thrown heavy spears. He can also upgrade his chainmail to this plated, feathery, pimp-looking armor I wouldn't be caught dead in.

Each fighter has unlocks, but sadly, it doesn't appear you can use other folks weapons. I'd personally love to have Santa the Red wielding the Knights Shield, a Katana and some Kamas, but no go.


The game has a bunch of modes. In single player you can fight practice rounds, where your opponent stands there and takes it like a side of beef, is controlled by the CPU and fights back, or is controlled by someone else in the room- like your five year old daughter, who then cries when you stick a spear through her fighter's head, and won't play with you anymore.

Next there's a battle mode where you can fight your braver, 10 year old daughter, who doesn't cry when you behead her fighter, but seems to enjoy the blood and carnage a bit too much for a girl. However, being a 10 yr old, she quickly loses interest in dulling your sword and you then have to fight the computer/CPU.

Finally, there's ARCADE mode. In this, your fighter faces off against each of the 7 other combatants, one by one, unlocking weapons along the way.

Plus, I should mention that the game has three difficulty settings- Normal (like there's anything normal about a Ninja and an Apache fighting), Hard, and "Deadliest Warrior" (how cheesy).

When you get done unlocking the more serious weapons of destruction, the kids won't play with you anymore and you tire of beating the Xbox's CPU up one side and down the other, it's time to face off against anonymous 8 yr old kids on Xbox Live- that hurl taunts and take it personally when you beat them, instead of enjoying the dismembering fun of the game.

At least with ranked matches you shouldn't encounter these Rugrat, unsupervised kids more than once.


I guess I'll mention there are different arenas. Ordinarily I wouldn't give a shit, but the bamboo sanctuary is cool because as you're fileting your oppnent, you might accidentally slice down a bamboo tree. Very cool. The Castle courtyard has some flags that can be knocked down, but they just confuse me and think a spear was thrown at me. There's a Greek ampitheater as well, that looks suspiciously like one of the levels from the AVP game. And there's the fight lab, with red grid on the floor and pig, test carcasses hanging from the ceiling.


First, there needs to be more fighters. But, as the game has a built-in downloadable content option, that's clearly coming.

Secondly, I want to mix and match weapons, not just fighters. I want my Santa Viking to have a flintlock pistol, a Spartan sword and the Centurions short sword. And I bet some pajama-wearing Ninja's would like a shield to hide behind or sleep in later.

The game really needs some tweaking. There is simply no way a Chainmail-wearing Viking should ever beat a Samuraii in a sword fight. But I did- I beheaded the Samurai, much to my surprise. Similarly, a ninja with a spear sticking through his heart, shouldn't be able to still cartwheel around like a ballerina. And no one will ever convince me that a stone Apache knife can sever an armor-plated Knights arm.

Finally, the game is based on a show where you sit back and watch people argue about the killing power of weapons, test said weapons, then actors do a dramatization of what a battle might look like. Often while I eat my dinner. So why the f*ck doesn't the game have a CPU vs CPU mode where I can pick the fighters, their gear, then enjoy the fight?


Overall, this game is lots of sick fun. I played it for three or four hours last night. My kids- while they wouldn't play against me- enjoyed watching the carnage. My five year old played (on "Normal") herself and as a pink ninja (yes, you can change your fighter's colors) was whiping the floor with the CPU-controlled Apache. Which was kind of surprising. My favorite moment in the game is when I hurl a Viking spear at random across the arena in the opening seconds of a game and spears right through the head of my opponent, ending the match. Ho, ho, ho, bitch.

Yeah, it isn't a simulator. Even AVP has more "realism". But for $10, what do you expect?

No comments: