Nerds ask, could a pirate kill a ninja?

Post by Alex Lamoureux in

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Deadliest Warrior Review
Deadliest Warrior impresses, says Alex

A classic question for nerds of all ages: Could a pirate kill a ninja? Impossible matchups between various warriors are a common argument, and there seems to be no way to resolve the debate. In 2009, a television program was created to depict these crossover battles. A team representing one warrior, such as the Samurai, will demonstrate their weapons and compare to another warrior, such as the Vikings. After a computer simulation, the winning team is decided, and the battle is shown in a reenactment.

After an episode of Deadliest Warrior is complete, the outcome is always the same: The losing team claims that the episode was rigged, and both sides continue to bicker. Emotions run high on both sides, creating a spirited debate. As long as warriors exist, people will debate about their capabilities.

So how is this relevant to video game design? In a fighting game, one of the challenges for a developer is to create a rivalry within characters. The best experience is created when a player can consistently use a single character, and form a rivalry against a friend's preferred fighter. The game certainly lets this happen; the characters are shallow, but interesting. When each player can pledge allegiance to one character, these long rivalries can produce lasting, addictive fun. If you're planning to use a variety of characters, the game's controls are slightly different between characters, but it's easily possible to choose a different character.

The fighting system is surprisingly complex for a game based on a TV show. As well as attacking and using special attacks, fighters also have a limited number of ranged projectiles. By blocking or parrying attacks, one can prepare a counterattack against the opponent. The most interesting feature of the gameplay is the limb damage system. In many fighting games, both fighters strike each other until they reach 0 health, at which point both drop dead. In Deadliest Warrior, a slashing attack can injure a limb badly and partially disable a warrior. One gets a sense that both fighters are slowly falling apart through the course of a long battle. This is a good way to approach gameplay, and it leads to many great last- minute victories.

Competition in Deadliest Warrior can consist of various modes: Arcade mode or Challenge mode are contests against a series of computer-controlled opponents. Multiplayer modes let you fight against either a human opponent next to you on the couch, or an opponent online. Like most fighting games, Deadliest Warrior is best when fighting a rival with a strong opinion about your choice of warrior. Unfortunately, the matchmaking on Xbox Live is quite buggy. It takes minutes to find a game, and most matches don't last as long as they take to enter. However, the game remains great when played against a friend in 2-player battle.

Taken on its own merit, Deadliest Warrior is a unique and well-made game. For a fan of the show, the characters aren't very familiar – as usual, they don't have deep or complex characters. The voice acting is rather poor, and the special animations are nothing special. However, as a simple, fun, mindless fighting game, Deadliest Warrior is everything it needs to be.

Rating: 8.5

The Good:

  • Diverse characters and attacks
  • Special kill animations for each character
  • Solid controls and gameplay
  • Low price
  • Limb-based damage system

The Bad:

  • Bland facial expressions and voice acting
  • Problems joining games in online play
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