Well here we are again folks, I find myself desperately trying to find a game worth an in-depth review and all I came up with was Spartacus: Legends, the new totally free combat simulator from Ubisoft and Kung Fu Factory. If you have ever watched the show (And my good I hope you have) you know that it is an over-the-top sex and gore fest from start to finish while actually telling a moving and emotionally involving story, so I could not have been more excited and disappointed at the same time when I heard about this game. Usually attempting to cash in on a past success often ends in failure and here is no exception to the rule.
So in my typical style I will break down my experience in today’s The First Five Review.
The First Five Seconds
So download is finished, fire this bitch up! I am greeted immediately by the familiar tune of the shows opening music, followed by the sword slashing sound effect that also is an immediate throwback to the show. My god I hope this isn’t the worst thing ever made…
So after a brief tutorial featuring the games namesake Spartacus, you are taught how to fight… Sort of. The game does not really tell you that different pressing directions on the left stick while attacking modifies the attack, leaving me wondering why this dude keeps doing random moves all the time. (I promise I figured it out rather quickly, I am not an idiot.) After beating my severely underwhelming opponent I am given the joyous opportunity to perform a masterful execution that will stick with you for a few minutes after you do it, gruesome and unforgiving, just like the show.
Then we are whisked away to the explanation of buying your first gladiator, how to buy equipment for them and how to send that “Worthless Sack of Shit to the Mines”; The equivalent of releasing a Pokemon into the wild, if that meant condemning it to a life of servitude in the darkest dreariest pits of Kanto
The First Five Hours
Okay so I have literally played this for five hours and it is five hours I would call “Decently” spent, as the game is somewhat addictive and pushes you to get better and better, usually by earning enough silver coins to buy the next upgrade to your weapons or armor. The thing that I found most irritating is this is a game that would be a whole lot better if there had been character stat improvements by using XP, but it does not matter how many gladiators you defeat, there is no personal XP, only a fame meter that unlocks the next tier of equipment.
In the show that the game is based on, each and every gladiator improves by training, by fighting and winning. The focus of this game is a very basic gear grind that can be sped along using gold coins, the cash buy option making it a pale shadow of what it could have been. My investment in my gladiator is minimal as if they die I lose nothing but a body, who I can easily replace. The cash buy options are quite hilarious as one of the “Micro” transactions is 12,000 Microsoft Points. TWELVE THOUSAND. $150 dollars worth of Gold coins to be spent in the game. I literally laughed out loud at the absurdity of it.
One of the cooler mechanics is the Xbox Live online play where you can face off against other human controlled gladiators, really mixing up the variety of combat. Some players were seemingly far better than I was and I had not lost in 100+ fights against the AI. I also experienced on MANY occasions severe la gin online matches. I would swing and hit repeatedly but do no damage only to have my opponent teleport back and forth over and over again, rendering neigh but invincible.
This game has some of the most bloody, visceral combat I have seen in a long time. While the fatalities in MK are more creative, removing a man’s face mid combat is something awesome and feels great!
Lets just call this game as it is: A simple cash grab that has some interesting ideas but falls far short of the series it is inspired by and the gods would not smile upon this title and nor can I. If you have a few hours to burn and need a quick, mindless and ultimately generic fighter to entertain some friends while drinking it is not a bad choice. If you are looking for a game with any real value, set legs to purpose and search elsewhere for boundless treasure and honored glory.