I’m generally a little suspicious of free games. The phrase “Freemium” seems to apply to an awful lot of them, making them into little more than a glorified demo. So when I saw Spartacus Legends for free on Xbox Live, I figured it was going to be the very definition of the pay to win model.
So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself playing a basic yet sometimes very tactical fighting game.
Now, I haven’t played fighting games in a long time, and generally I don’t play them online even when I do give them a shot. Whilst Spartacus does have a fairly fun single player game, where it really comes into it’s strength is in the dark, shadowy recesses of Xbox live. Which makes it unfortunate that the matchmaking system seems to be so terribly quiet. I’m actually waiting for a fight right now. I have two of may gladiators lined up, and either there’s no-one playing this goddamn game or the systems are just broken
The combat experience in this game can either be incredibly deep or as shallow as a puddle. You can, as always, win fights by charging forward and spamming the fast attack button, but once you get your eye in and adapt to the intricacies of the combat system, it actually becomes a much improved experience – and it gets easier to avoid attacks. A quick tap of the evade button at the right time will dodge an attack, leaving an opponent open for a counter. You also have a hold-to-defend button, a fast attack, a strong attack a grab attack, and Pankration. for those unaware of what Pankration is, its the roman/grecian forerunner to modern MMA, a mixed unarmed combat style. In the context of spartacus, it allows for unarmed strikes that will momentarily rock your opponent, allowing you to follow up with your weapons. You also have free range of movement around the 3d arenas, allowing well timed sidesteps of blow that can allow for counters. When you get into a fight with someone who knows all this, you end up with a much more satisfying experience.
Of course, there is the factor of money. In game currency comes in two forms – silver and gold. you get a small amount of gold upon levelling up your fame metre, but primarily you’ll be earning silver. Its one of those games where, with enough patience, you can get all the items you want with silver alone, but you do have the option to expend real-world cash for gold.
Spartacus Legends is well worth a download, as it is pretty damn good fun. If you’re an avid fighters fan, however, you may find the pace of fights too slow to be entertaining for you, and until they either fix the matchmaking or mopre people play, it will be sadly lacking in the online department.