It’s one of those novelty games that is released alongside its film/TV series for the promotion. And like the TV series, Spartacus Legends gives fans what they want: brutal fights, gladiatorial scenery and excessive profanities. Equip your fighter with a few shreds of leather and metal and work your way to legendary proportions in the arena. Well, sort of. Don’t expect too much from this free arcade game and you won’t be disappointed.
The Gladiator Experience
With what it lacks, Spartacus Legends supplies the grandiose experience of the TV series, particularly during the fights. Score the right combo and you’re granted a slo-mo attack that is satisfying and brutal. But the crowd meter is where the game has its shining moments, working to excite the audience, gain their favour, and execute your opponent in a variety of excessively bloody finishing moves. Want to slice the face from a man in super slo-mo and then showboat to the crowd? Then this is your game.
Outside of the actual fighting, Spartacus Legends’ gameplay is similar to a Facebook app, earning silver and paying money in game for gold and working to increase your gladiator’s rating and recruiting more slaves to do your bidding in the arena. The fights you win earn you more gold and affect your fame, leading to more silver and more fame, and so on. The accumulation of winnings brings with it the ability to buy better weapons and armour to please the crowd and win your fights, which is satisfying to watch as it builds the crowd meter more quickly for a gruesome finish.
All Face, No Personality
Spartacus Legends is a void of a game, and although it is an ‘arcade’ game, it’s best suited in an arcade from the ‘90s. Besides the little effects that hold similarities to the TV series, the game really has nothing to draw gamers in. Its best defence is that it looks the part, which it undeniably does, yet the character models look lazy and the city view outside of fights is all too packed in and, again, somewhat lazily designed. Even the grammar in the game, a little thing, appears to have been written by a drunk school kid.
Button Mashing Aggro
The fighting system is simple to learn, with the usual controls of your general beat em’ up, but unlike other fighting franchises, there’s really not much past the basic kick, punch and block. The combos are basic, too, and though they lead to the impressive attacks, they are repetitive and quickly become tiresome. “Tiresome” is also the correct word for the strange second life that the gladiators are given when knocked down. Have your health depleted and your gladiator will fall to the sand while your foe glories in his victory. But, oh no, wait! You’re getting back up and everyone’s surprised, even though it happens every time, with no effort on your part. Even if just a little button mashing was involved in getting back to your feet, the extra life wouldn’t be so pointless. Instead, it’s a waste of time that could have been avoided if the gladiators were given more health initially.
But in terms of controls, that isn’t the most repetitive part. Once I had the controls down, all I really needed to press was ‘A’, kicking my enemy in a 300-esque style to the ground, which my opponents never seemed to be able defend themselves. Until, of course, the first boss character is unlocked to fight,and you might as well lie yourself down and accept the defeat. After five humiliating beatings, it was obvious that the enemy had drastically increased in difficulty, especially after being used to level one ‘lethality’ opponents with no perks and shoddy equipment. Suddenly you’re thrown into the arena with a gladiator with better perks and weapons than yourself who is powerful enough to drop you in four or five hits, and when your blocking is limited to a few attacks, it just becomes irritating.
The multiplayer initially looked to be a good idea as it’s a beat em’ up game, but I was quickly proven wrong. The game puts you into a queue of other players until a match can be found. So I waited, and waited, and then waited a little more before I was pulled into a fight with a random gladiator. The ‘Fight’ bell rang, I lunged at my opponent, and found myself thrown onto my back by an apparently immobile enemy. I thought it was my Internet connection playing up, but that was fine, so I queued for another game. Again, thrown to the floor and beat to death by a gladiator skipping about swinging his sword into thin air.
In all fairness, Spartacus Legends is a free game, which would explain its seemingly half-hearted development, but some of it is just plain laziness. With little changes here and there, it could be a good arcade game, but there are too many irritating features that ruin the enjoyment and encourage frustration. For the fans of the TV series, download it for the novelty and moments of bloody executions. If not, the only reason I can find to download it is the short burst of fun and the price.