Deadliest Warrior Preview

Spike TV's Deadliest Warrior series pits iconic warriors from different historical eras against each other in one-on-one virtual gladiatorial duels. To simulate the battles on the show they analyze the combatants in detail, examining their typical tactics and performing a battery of tests on their weaponry. The first season included matchups like Viking vs. Samurai and Pirate vs. Knight. It sounds like the setup for a videogame and sure enough, as revealed during the VGA's, it's getting a fighting game adaptation due out as a downloadable title later this year.

I checked out an early version of the game and found that, as expected, the background work that went into the show translates well into the foundation for a fighting game. Each warrior brings three weapons to the arena: close melee, medium range, and long range. Unique weapons for each reflect the various battle specialties of their class and accompanying characteristics. For instance, in the Apache vs. Spartan fight I got to play the Apache warrior who had a bow with six arrows for his long range slot as opposed to the Spartan who had only two spears. Each of those spears, though, packed quite a wallop if they connected. The combat system for the game focuses on these sorts of tradeoffs -- power or speed, heavily armored or light and nimble -- and their tactical applications.

At the controls the fighting takes a familiar approach. High, medium, and low attacks for close and medium range make up most of the action with a ranged attack thrown in here and there to keep an opponent off balance. Each warrior has their own set of combos for their close and medium range weapons. They also earn unlockable additional weapons with different specs to equip that might be better suited to one sort of style than another.

An emphasis on real world modeling of the lethality of the weapons opens up the potential ways to exploit an enemy's weaknesses. I saw this first hand as the Apache didn't take the Spartan's ranged attack seriously enough and wound up on the receiving end of unlocking the "shish kabob" achievement by getting beheaded and that head then skewered to the wall by the spear. "What-ifs" like that give the show its intrigue. If the game finds the right balance to consistently bring them out too, it could strike a similarly successful formula.

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