Spartacus Legends Review
You are the undefeated Gaul. Let us show them how such name was earned.
For those of us who have watched all four seasons of Spartacus, this game has been a long anticipated follow up to the show's conclusion. When the show ended, there was a void in my life that even Game of Thrones could not fill. The wait was well worth it as every detail of the show carried over beautifully into the game. And whilst most games based on shows leave something to be desired, they managed to create the very same atmosphere that I fell in love with in the series.
Nothing was held back in the violence and gore department. This was one very important detail because there is a certain expectation dueling gladiators in an arena. Cutting someone's arm off feels more satisfying when there is an embellished amount of blood squirting out. Taking massive hits will show on your gladiator as they collect cuts and bleed out. Stepping into the role of managing your own ludus in the path of Batiatus is a dream come true.
I have been playing the game for about a week now since it released. I didn't want to put a review up too hastily for fear that the awe of the arena was nothing more than a superficial facade. Finally the gods have seen it fit to remove cock from ass and deliver me a title worthy of the name Spartacus.
Pain is erased when inflicted upon others.
The gameplay is very solid. I'm not much for fighting games in general but how they have decided to handle the battle system is very satisfying. There are varying styles of weapons and a lot of customization options for gladiators. Following in the foot steps of Gannicus, my preference was for the dual sword.
The commands seem very basic at a surface level; a strong attack, a medium attack, a quick small damage attack, and a grab. Not a lot of magic here. Then there is the introduction of combos within these which is not a new mechanic by any means.
What set it apart for me was the roll and dogdge mechanic. It allowed for the player to bypass the typical zoning maneuvers of traditional fighting games by dodging attacks, closing distance, and out manoeuvring the opponent. You can roll away from combos quickly letting your opponent finish his attack animation and if timed correctly can make for an opportune time to land a very punishing strong attack.
In my online experience, there are a ton of button smashers out there. They have yet embraced the roll and it makes for easy pickings. Timing is still important in any fighting game, but it is well balanced against out positioning and being creative. Careful though, rolling without any reason will mean the opponent will turn to match you and essentially get a free hit on you if they're fast enough. I really like this aspect of the game and really gave it a good combat feel. Let's see some of this gameplay in action:
There is but one path: we kill them
Your take the role of both lanista and gladiator. The game is free to play so there is some aspect of it that very much feels like it's pay to win. To get the best gladiators requires gold coin which can be earned through leveling or by purchasing.
A few gold coins will get you a long way but at some point you will likely end up parted from your money. The best gladiators, those that can hold the most perk slots require gold. To unlock gear early to equip your gladiator with, requires gold. During the loading screen, there are several little hints and quotes that cycle through, one of which "the application of gold hastens tasks." is a bit of understatement. At some point you will need more gold than what you can earn through leveling. Either that or be a gimp with some sub par champions that will get slaughtered without the additional base stats and perk slots.
The leveling system is done through fame. This is much like XP where fighting earns you more and more fame. Pleasuring the crowd by taunting your opponent will earn you even more fame. Fighting in very lethal matches where there is a high chance of death for your gladiator, even more fame! Fame is used to unlock additional gear and fights in more districts of the city. You will have unlocked all the arenas by level 10 and this is fairly easy to get. The game then shifts from learning and unlocking to making that perfect gladiator with the best gear and slaughtering kids online. This is where it gets really fun.
If I am to die, at least I shall die amongst brothers.
While the review has been rather glowing thus far, the game is lacking in some areas. Unlike the curse of SimCity, I don't think any of the problems I see are core to the game. The multiplayer leaves a lot to be desired. There is no way to do private matches, play against someone in a hot seat, or queuing players within similar ratings. When I find myself equally matched it is exhilarating. There is some visual quirks as a result of lag such as hits not registering despite the animation processing, or getting hit by a ghost swing, or even straight up disconnects. This can be fixed and I have high hopes. I can truly see this game reach the potential of an eSport status (granted never quite to the level of where the MOBA scene is currently, but) similar to SF4. It is fun to watch and fun to play. I hope the guys at Ubisoft take a page out of Valve's playbook for DOTA2 and give the greater community for the game a little more support and loving. I would join a Spartacus Legends tournament in a heart beat.
If you really want to appreciate this game for what it is, you should go back and watch the first season of Spartacus on Starz or Netflix. As an avid watcher, I am pleased with what they have delivered and look forward to multiplayer bug fixes and new content.