Watching The Deadliest Warrior on Spike TV is actually a guilty pleasure of mine. I’ve actually seen every episode…and there are very few shows that hold that distinction with me. In spite of this, I can’t honestly say I was especially pumped when they announced that there would be a Deadliest Warrior video game…never mind that it would be a fighting game. Of course, however, the burden of reviewing the title fell to me, and here I am to tell you that this game isn’t especially good…but not horrifyingly bad.
The Deadliest Warrior TV show on Spike TV is, as Joe Rogan once commented, what you would get if you handed over millions of dollars to a ten year-old. The show itself attempts to determine who would win if two legendary soldiers of years passed (or, occasionally, modern day warriors) faced off. This is done by running tests on the various trademark weapons for each warrior, and stacking them against each other. The numbers (that you rarely actually see, and that are only occasionally presented) are then put into a computer simulator and a winner is determined (How? Well, they don’t tell us).
Deadliest Warrior: The Game, on the other hand, takes a more direct approach to this method. It lets the guys actually fight, in the form of a free-roaming, arena-based fighting game. If there was one game that Deadliest Warrior mirrors, it would be Squaresoft’s Bushido Blade on the PS1. DWTG pits the two warriors against each other in a nice, rectangular stage. Each has several weapons to choose from, as seen in the show, and a very, very short life bar to work with. Pepper in some “disabling hits”, where an opponent can be hobbled by a strike to the leg or arm, and gratuitous dismemberment and call it a game.
The game itself is incredibly remedial. There are some elementary three-hit combos, and some situational moves, but the rounds are so short that the game boils down to defensive posturing and using quick, safe strikes. On top of all this, the gameplay is mired by glitches (a man can have his arm cut off, but still fight normally, with the weapon floating where his hand would be), balance issues (the Apache Warrior can kill an opponent with one combo) and sudden, random slowdown. On top of everything else, there is a very humble eight selectable characters to choose from, even though the show has featured many other potential candidates.
So what does the game do well? Well, it looks pretty damn good, with some quality graphics and decent environments that characters can fight in. There’s also a deceptively solid online mode that allows for the quick, reactive fighting the game requires.
The thing is, this doesn’t come close to making up for the flaws that reach the core of the game. The combat, plain and simple, feels hurried. That isn’t excusable. Add in the fact that there are just so many great fighting games available on the Live Arcade right now, and there’s no reason to even consider buying this game. Hell, if you want to bang with a ninja, pirate, samurai, and such…you can just buy Soul Calibur for the same price.