Bart: It’s my job to be repetitive. My job. My job. Repetitiveness is my job! I am going to go out there tonight and give the best performance of my life.
Marge: The best performance of your life?
Bart: The best performance of my life.
Bart may have tried to give the best performance of his life in the final act of the classic Simpsons episode,”Bart Gets Famous”, unfortunately as anyone else remembers, his schtick of,”I didn’t Do It” fades as fast as it came. That may not tell the whole story of Warlords, which in itself a decent romp, but the lasting power of a game such as this has a limited scope and is subject to being a very brief, albeit charming affair.
First impressions are everything, so I was pleasantly surprised at how decent this game looks for a budget title. Lots of colors and the over exaggerated character designs are very charming and comical. The training mode will no doubt be your first stop in learning to play Warlords, where you will learn from a diminutive “Snoot’ (more on that later) that is very reminiscent of ClapTrap from Borderlands. This is indeed one of the highlights of the game, and attacking this first certainly gave me the impression that more was to come. Unfortunately, other than the same victory animation, the charm stops there.
Warlords is by and large, a remake (although it had been done previously 4 years earlier) of the Atari and Arcade classic of the same name. The game consists of either a 1 on 1, or a 4 player free for all in where you basically play Breakout-another Atari production- with a medieval aesthetic. You occupy a corner in a closed off arena setting, with a giant shield being your first, last and only defense against the fireballs that bounce around the level nonstop. The shield helps you deflect fireballs, in an effort to keep your castle safe, and to eliminate your opponent(s). As you deflect shots (or if you prefer, your shield can catch the fireball and then shoot it with a powered shot in any direction you wish), more and more fireballs are dropped in, making your defensive capabilities increasingly more and more compromised. In order to to combat this, you are now given minions called,”Snoots” Your “Rally Snoot” is you main man, that you will control with your right stick and will be the focal point of your support. Your castle will start very slowly pumping out other snoots that will either, repair your walls, wreck your opponents wall, or obtain power-ups that from time to time, appear on the battlefield, depending on your instructions. These power-ups range from reinforcing your walls with steel for a short time, to having all the fireballs on the map immediately turn to your color and therefore increasing your hit count and increase your overall score. Oh, and occasionally there is a giant black knight that appears and starts raging on a random castle for a little bit, giving you one more thing to protect against.
Certainly a game with all this going on, it would be safe to assume that things get a little hairy, correct? In a word, yes. There will be those who will enjoy this game that value the amount of chaos that is going on, especially in the latter parts of each stage. Maybe it was just me, but I felt that more often than not, I was winning a large majority of my matches based on mere luck. There is a main campaign that you tear through, although the term “Campaign” might suggest that there is more going on than what is actually available. 4 player Free For All or 1 on 1 is served here, with a storyline that is blah, to say the least. You can play along with friends in the multiplayer modes that can support up to 4 players in a few modes that include 2 v 2 and a co-op siege mode.
Some may accuse Warlords as being a game that is a little barren. I accuse it of being quite repetitive in terms of the playing of the game. But that is not the big issue to address. The question anyone should ask is,”Is it fun at all?” In a word, mostly. While I have stated my gripes above, Warlords is a game that shines best when playing with friends, especially when you are all together in the same room. And while it has its flaws as a product overall, fans of the original game will no doubt enjoy this updated blast to the past.
Warlords is currently available on PSN, and will be available for XBLA November 14th.