Just going to quietly set this blog here amidst all the nonsense going on.
Deadliest Warrior was a very silly show about pitting two warriors from history in a battle and seeing who’d win. In 2010 it made an equally silly fighting game that released to mixed but largely negative reviews. It had an abysmal selection of just four stages and looked like hot garbage. The animation was only comparable to a sophomores claymation project and the characters would barely make an original X-Box user look twice. The soundtrack of the game composed of one song played that looped forever in the menus.
But you know what? The reception this game received is bullshit. Deadliest Warrior: The Game is the kind of divergent fighting game players would love to see today.
Fighting games used to be, and primarily still are, based around knowing pre-created combos and button commands that activate special moves. Deadliest Warrior: The Game rejected that nonsense. In Deadliest Warrior, you have a high, medium, and low attack as well as a signature attack, block, parry, and projectile. For every fighter in the game, those button commands consistently do the same thing. The game does have combos but forget about that balderdash for a moment.
Deadliest Warrior hands the player simple tools and asks them to figure out how to use them effectively to be badass and defeat their opponent, as opposed to tasking the player with learning and memorizing different series of button inputs. Deadliest Warriors may seem more like a fighting game in line with Super Smash Bros. by this definition, but it actually has more in common with something like Dark Souls.
Like Dark Souls, there isn’t much physicality in the mechanics to wrap your head around. It becomes very simple to pick up and then quickly turns into learning and understanding your opponent and how the fight functions. You have to quickly determine when to play offensive or defensive, when to attack high or low, when to throw a projectile or when to dodge. And you better be right, because this is easily one of the most punishing fighting games.
It’s not uncommon to see one simple mistake cost a player the match even in the lowest level of play. The warriors all have different armor values and take different amounts of damage, but even the most armored warrior can go from full health to death in around five seconds. Most matches last about one to one-and-a-half minutes, and that’s best two out of three rounds. The only way to rectify the quickness and draw out the strategy more is go into the options and set the matches to be best three out of five rounds.
Not only is health depleted quickly, but player’s arms and legs can be broken, disabling the use of their shield and projectile or slowing them down and curbing their dodge abilities. Player’s arms can literally be amputated, causing their health to rapidly degenerate. The game is incredibly tense with this level of punishment. The weight of every decision is felt as it has to be carefully planned. With this much focus placed on every beat of the fight it becomes more of a methodical move by move chess match rather than a quick frenzy of playmakers.
Each warrior also greatly affects how the fight goes. Warriors like the ninja have no armor but are granted exceptionally quick and damaging attacks, while others like Knight have hearty armor but have to plan their slower attacks more carefully. The Pirate has very situational tools that lead him to reading the other player and finding specific windows to attack. Each warrior also has a different selection of weapons that players can choose from (that have to be unlocked in the gross-ass singleplayer), adding even more Souls-esque variety and strategy. Not only does this add a unique take to the game with every character you play as, but it also creates a massive dynamic by matching up all the warriors against each other. There’s no one way to play one warrior against all the others. Unless you’re the Shaolin Monk. Fuck that character.
Balance is a huge issue with the game, at least pertaining to the aforementioned Shaolin Monk character who was later added as DLC. This guy can throw a shitload of projectiles and take away half of just about anyone’s health before launching a nuts combo that will finish off any foe in a offensively un-dodgable speed. He also moves quick enough to evade any of the warriors attacks, so his lack of armor isn’t much of an issue. Just house-rule that no one can play as that motherfucker. Seriously he’s bullshit.
The combos in the game also take away from it’s simplistic fighting mechanics and insult the balance. Some classes have absurdly long combos that can stop play dead in its tracks. Combos certainly could be a great way for players to boost their attack when they find a window, but their length and abundance make them more of a cop out to actual strategy in the fight. Just also house-rule that three-hit combos are off limits.
House rules have to be mentioned because no one plays this game online anymore. Nor did they beforehand. Nobody actually knows this game came out. So what little play people will find is locally with buddies. That way you can physically stop them from picking Shaolin Monk.
The game was originally released on XBLA and PSN, but has since gotten re-released in physical form on the disc Deadliest Warriors: Ancient Combat. It also comes with the games sequel, Deadliest Warriors: Legends, which is absolute shit.
If you’re looking for a high stakes, intense, punishing fighting game that stands out from the traditional button combo affair, then track down a copy of Deadliest Warrior. It’s fantastic.