Ut sanguine meo rufum Inquinas hostium cecidit in terram super colloseum. May the blood of my fallen enemy stain red the floor of The Colosseum. Digitally distributed on June 26th, as a free to play title on both PSN and XBLA, Spartacus Legends aspires to bring the excitement of the Starz cable TV series and place it in hands of gamers, who are already holding controllers. Whoa, that’s a lot of shit to be holding. Whatever, it’s a colloquialism, you know what I meant.
A fabula tam antiquae Romae
A story as old as Rome itself. A once proud gladiator school falls into shame and disrepair, and the player must restore the schola gladiator back to its full strength and former glory. Slaves must be purchased and trained, able bodies recruited, and above all, the spectators must be entertained. Violently destroy rival gladiators, earn a bit of coin, upgrade skills and equipment, and fight at every venue in the empire until you make it to the Colosseum itself.
Pugnae ... Mechanica ad mortem
The mechanics of fighting to the death are as follows: light attack, heavy attack, kick attack, and block, and each has a dedicated button. I expected perhaps a bit more depth from a developer calling themselves Kung Fu Factory, but hey...it’s a free game. Ubisoft plays publisher for this gladiator game, and their influence can be seen and felt throughout the game. Many of the RPG elements reminded me of Assassin’s Creed II, and to some extent, Assassin’s Creed III, as well as the simplistic fighting style, only not nearly as polished or fluid as AC. Players, in the arena, attempt to string combos together in order to execute a staggered opponent with a finishing move, otherwise you’ll have to beat down their health bar. Outside of the arena, players upgrade weapons and armor, buy execution moves, and plan their next move. Available matches are conveniently marked on the map, as well as a brief description of the match and opponent.
Accipit pecuniam ad pecuniam
It takes money to make money, and this is especially true in Spartacus Legends. A good portion of the loading screens are commercials for in-game currency that players can buy, with real world currency. The bank is accessible from nearly any screen, in between matches, of course, to make sure that this free to play game doesn’t get confused with a free to win title. Sure, you could fight away for weeks to earn enough coin to buy your fighter a soiled loincloth, rotted leather armband, or rusty gladius, or you can flash a bit of plastic and get it now. Five bucks will get you fifty gold coins, but why stop there? The bank advertises its best value for the aspiring Lanista is a pile of 3,000 coins for 12,000 MS points. My calculator calls that ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY FUCKING AMERICAN DOLLARS. Where I come from, we don’t call that a bargain: we call that something else entirely. I wasn’t expecting it to be entirely free but holy fuck, $150? That might be a bit on the steep side. So, following the Asian model of free to play, if you want to get ahead in this game, you’re going to have to work some overtime or get a second job, because fighting for an hour or two in your soiled subligaria and your wooden sword on the weekends will not get you on the leaderboards.
Differentia est inter uictoriam mortemue temere rem.
The difference between victory and death is a random affair, indeed. Sure, you can attempt to string combos together, alternate between light and heavy attacks to determine the right recipe for each opponent, or try to time your attacks at just the right critical split second, but your efforts will be in vain, my friend. The best and surest road to victory is to mash every button as fast as you can and hope for the best. I went to write a paragraph for this article only to find that my cat had won two fights by walking on the controller during my absence. This is not a precision or complex fighting game.
While our rating system is not really geared for free games, I can assert that most players will spend less than a weekend with this game. The fighting is far too simplistic to coerce players into mastering moves and the RPG elements don’t have the addictive qualities that would draw loyal or dedicated players into spending huge amounts of cash for the in-game currency needed to succeed. It’s a mindless distraction with loud noises and edgy music. If you want a real gladiator weekend go rent Ben Hur, Gladiator or 300, or play some old school turn-based Gladius.