Deadliest Warrior: The Game Review

By David Wolinsky - Posted Jul 19, 2010

In this adaptation of the alternately mocked and exalted "documentary" series "Deadliest Warrior," gamers are given the chance to pit fighters of various eras in battle. The combat is shallow, and the downloadable title isn't without its flaws, but if your bloodlust conquers all, a goofy and enjoyable time can easily be had.

The Pros
  • Unpretentiously fun casual fighter
  • The modest cast will soon be supplemented with additional DLC
  • Mildly educational
The Cons
  • Lacks polish
  • Cheating AI
  • Feels like a cheap downloadable game

Pirates versus ninjas. Marvel versus Capcom. My dad versus your dad. For as long as anyone can remember, people have whiled away their free time by hemming and hawing over such hypothetical and impossible match-ups, but no one has taken them as seriously as cable network Spike TV. Since last year, the channel has been indulging its bloodthirsty young-male demographic with “documentary” series "Deadliest Warrior." In the show, scientists, trauma doctors, and weapons experts all join forces to prove, say, whether a Taliban would best an IRA. Deadliest Warrior: The Game is a lot less controversial, instead sticking strictly to eight fighters from more ancient, but still wildly far-flung time periods.

Deadliest Warrior: The Game

Chuck Norris Was Excluded For Better Game Balance

Each of the eight characters are armed to teeth with an era-appropriate arsenal, from the cutlass-wielding, flintlock pistol-toting drunken pirate to the spear- and axe-slinging stoic Viking. With a fuzzy but strict sense of realism, you’ll utilize only high, low, and midrange attacks -- no fireballs here -- which, against shield-less combatants like a ninja or Apache, can end a match after four well-placed strikes. Fights in the three-dimensional arenas can easily be navigated with pure button-mashing, but you’d be wise to memorize at least a few combos, block, and try your luck with the one-hit-kills projectiles. Almost nothing is as satisfying in Deadliest Warrior as watching an intense round draw to a close with a near-dead pirate squeezing out a lucky round on his pistol out after hacking off the centurion’s shield-wielding arm, or watching a ninja go totally limp after he gets a spear to the brain.

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On the other end of the spectrum, approaching almost "Monty Python And The Holy Grail"-like levels of silliness, mists of blood and limbs can go sailing about without almost any effort at all. And there are “fatalities,” but the spotty animations make them look no different than any of your usual attacks—besides, at the end of a fight, both combatants are so caked in crimson that severing another limb has pretty much lost all effect. It’s almost as if you’re desensitized to the extreme violence after seeing so much of it or something. Nah, that can never happen.

Deadliest Warrior: The Game

Welcome To The Stage Of History

Ironically, a game that prides itself on extensive research has somehow managed to overlook decades of established fighting-game lore. It wasn’t intended just as a quick cash-in on the TV show -- plenty more downloadable characters are planned for release -- but it does feel awfully rushed. Chunks of animation are noticeably missing. While the knight’s vocal tracks sound like they were actually recorded in a suit of armor, so does the pirate’s and everyone else’s. Perhaps the most blatant offense is the punishing AI, which will suddenly give you an unblockable smackdown, even on the easiest difficulty, just for gaining the upper hand. Such drawbacks can be sidestepped in the online and local multiplayer, but Deadliest Warrior’s lack of depth and winking allure can never provide as much staying power as some of the genre’s stronger offerings.

Always With The Fighting

No one can rightly expect Deadliest Warrior: The Game to be the deepest or most revolutionary fighter to hit consoles given its cheesy lineage, but after a couple of rounds, its shortcomings give rise to a couple of soft-spoken charms. If you’re willing to look past its clumsy controls, an inattentive camera, and an occasionally flat-out cheating AI, Deadliest Warrior eventually shows itself to be a Bushido Blade throwback that’s gorier than Mortal Kombat.