Spartacus Legends review (XBLA)
Spartacus Legends was developed by Kung Fu Factory and published by Ubisoft. It was released June 26, 2013 for free.
Despite being made as a tie-in to a television series on Starz, Spartacus Legends is a free-to-play fighting game that doesn’t require any previous knowledge of the show. The game puts you in the role of battle-hardened slaves rising up the ranks to become legendary gladiators. Buckets upon buckets of blood will be shed as you fight your way through Roman arenas. There was a lot of potential here for this to be a fun, mature fighting game. In the end, the game’s bright ideas were murdered by a slew of technical problems.
Here’s what we liked:
Brutality – The game does a great job at capturing the sheer brutality of a gladiator fight. Combat can be slow, but every attack feels impactful as the weight of your weapon hits your enemy and spills his blood. There’s a modest selection of fighting styles to chose from, including daggers, swords, and hammers, that constantly let you mix things up and prevents the game from getting too repetitive. The gameplay mechanics are simple and accessible, allowing anyone with any amount of fighter experience should be able to pick it up and play.
Actually free – The game’s free-to-play model has been built into the customization. From the store you’ll be able to buy fighters for your lineup, as well as weapons and armor to get them prepared for the arena. You have the option of buying in-game currency with real money, but the coins you earn just from winning fights is enough to get you a worthy roster. You’ll never feel like you need to spend real money to get better stuff, a model more free-to-play games should follow.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Dull visuals – Spartacus Legends is a free game, and it unfortunately looks the part. The color pallet is almost completely grey and brown, minus the blood splatters and the showy higher-end armor. The graphics look muddy and outdated, especially the poorly-animated crowd. The fighters themselves do look better than everything around them, but that’s not saying much.
Multiplayer – The combat system really shows its weakness in online matches. While the matchmaking system usually does a good job finding an opponent in your skill range, most matches end up being a game of spam-or-be-spammed. The matchmaking system could be improved as well; to find a match, you’re put one of your fighters into the online queue, allowing you to use your other fighters in the offline capabilities while you wait. The problem is, when a match is found you are thrust out of what you were doing, resulting in a loss of unsaved progress.
Very broken – The game has been riddled with bugs since its launch, and even after a patch many are still present. Load times can randomly be quite long, the game frequently freezes upon finishing a round, and online matches always lag if you can get in a match at all. The frequent number of bugs that pop up almost every play session is enough to get anyone frustrated. The game may be worth trying if it wasn’t for its all-to-frequent bugs, so we can’t recommend anyone playing it until a good patch is released.
Spartacus Legends is obviously a budget title from the moment you pick it up. Its simplistic gameplay and boring graphics may turn some off, but there is still some fun in the brutal gladiator combat. The single player campaign is done well enough so that anyone curious will be able to get a few hours worth of enjoyment out of it, but the multiplayer component isn’t worth investing too much time in. The game’s bugs are what ultimately kill it, making a game that might be worth checking out into a broken, bloody mess.
Score: Skip it