In recent years, there have been games that feature historical warriors engaging in a fight to the death. A sub-category of that seems to be those based from movies and TV shows. There was the Deadliest Warrior games, based off the TV show, which were alright but not too interesting. There was also a Game of Thrones game that was more of an RTS game, and wasn’t that good either. It’s now the turn of this game based off of the Spartacus TV series.
Developed by Kung Fu Factory and published by Ubisoft, Spartacus Legends is a free-to-play 3D fighting game for consoles. Basically, the player runs a stable of gladiators, who are to be equipped and trained for arena combat against other gladiators. There have been other gladiator games before, like Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance for the PS2 and Gladiator A.D.
The visuals are that of the mid-2000′s, with blood effects that look like mercury dyed red. Perhaps it’s fitting for a free-to-play fighting game like this, but the lack of refinement in the graphics is pretty evident. The animations are smooth enough though, even when the variety of attacks you can do isn’t that extensive. The cutscenes are in a thick sepia posterized effect that tries too hard to be artistic, but ends up looking like the regurgitated stomach contents. There isn’t much story to begin with, so there really isn’t much that the cutscenes get to flesh out.
With the gameplay, you may prefer spamming your farthest reaching attacks to keep the opponent away from you until he dies. You can block and sidestep for defense, but there isn’t much else going for it so you might as well just do what it takes to win. The executions and death animations are quite amusing for a bit, but the lack of polish is evident and lacking in enough variety to not make players bored of them.
Soon enough in singleplayer, you’ll be matched up against unlocked opponents who are levels above your own gladiators. It will take a considerable amount of time to get past them, and it may force the more impatient to browse through the in-game purchases for a quick boost in strength. In-game purchases are not bad in essence, but making them like pay-to-win options does not do it any favors. In-game items are also quite uninteresting as items of the same type all look very similar, just being different colored versions of the same thing.
The multiplayer doesn’t really do much to hold it over either. The quick match option takes too long to find a suitable opponent, and the arena is inundated by mismatches, populated by either people who had been playing for a long time or beginners who are just curious. Queues are just way too long to be worth the wait for each online match.
In the end, this game like an unpolished version of Soul Calibur with bare-chested men in dirt pits, but much less fulfilling. At least it’s free to play, so anyone could give it a try on either PSN or Xbox Live Arcade. If you’re a fan of the show, then perhaps this will be quite fun for you. Just be warned that it may not last long, and you’d rather skip it if your download would take more time than how long the game will sustain your interest.
Tested in PS3. Final Score: 6.5/10