Spartacus Legends Preview
If you’re not familiar, “Spartacus” is a popular new TV series on Starz. As you might expect, it’s loaded with lots of blood and sexual situations, so it makes for the perfect video game adaptation, wouldn’t you say? The free-to-play Spartacus Legends doesn’t have a release date yet, but it should be available on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live services next month. Developer Kung Fu Factory is kinda ditching most of the overly sexualized content from the show, as the focus will be on the arena action. That, of course, will be all sorts of gory.
This is for anyone who always dreamed of being a gladiator in ancient Rome. Of course, why anyone would dream of being a slave whose life is in imminent danger all the time is beyond me, but I understand the brutal, oddly romantic nature of such an appeal. In this game, you will fight to earn fame and money (don’t think gladiators ever actually earned money, but whatever), and your chosen character will continue to get stronger by leveling up. You’ll be able to upgrade your equipment, and you might even see some characters you met in the TV show. This is the another game that uses a new TV show as a tie-in; the recently released Defiance is an example as well. We'll have to see if such promotions work...
The interesting part about this adventure is that if you die, it’s over. And not just over in the playful, “oh, I’ll just start the match over again” sort of way. The only way to return is to spend some gold to resurrect your dead fighter and each time you die, it costs more to bring him back. You may reach a point where it just isn’t worth it to revive him, because you didn’t really progress and you don’t have the requisite coin. But if you win, the rewards are significant, as the money, experience, fame and other perks are big incentives to stay alive. You can equip a certain number of perks for a battle and again, if you want to swap them, you’ll have to spend some gold.
This makes the game sound awfully strategic, doesn’t it? You’ll really have to think about the abilities you want attached to your fighter, and as death is a definite pain in the ass, you’ll get those sweaty palms with the knowledge that each fight is critical. As I understand the combat itself, it should be a blend of standard fighting and action/adventure mechanics, as we’ll get slo-mo killer blows and standard light and heavy attacks. There’s an evade roll (ala God of War), along with block, parry, and throw options. So you’ll absolutely have to practice if you want to master this system and remember, you don’t have that much time…
“Visceral” would be a fitting term for this game, as the blood and violence will be pretty intense. Wounds will appear on your fighter as the battle progresses, and you may even lose a limb or two. I wonder, though: If you die after you suffer such critical losses, will you be resurrected with those limbs gone? Or do they come back? Well, anyway, provided the frame rate is solid, the animations and special effects are slick and cool, and the advancement system hooks players, this could be lots of fun. And you have to anticipate a whole lot of “oh shit!” moments when playing online with others. Death will be demoralizing but victory will be oh so sweet.
4/16/2013 Ben Dutka