Tournament of Legends was first announced at E3 last year as Gladiator AD. Back then, the game went in the direction of gritty realism, complete with Roman gladiators, blood and gore. Interestingly, since Sega picked it up, the art direction took a completely different turn along with its rebranding. Now known as Tournament of Legends, the game will feature characters from Greco-Roman mythology.
Tournament of Legends was on the show floor at this year's E3 as well and Gaming Union had the chance to try it out. The game is a fighting game that features 10 different mythological characters to choose from, each with their own unique skill set that corresponds to their own personalities. For instance, Pat Dolan, the lead designer, explained that one of the characters was a cheat and fighting against him usually meant that the arena could be booby trapped, or that he has archers hanging around to help him out when he's in a pickle. This certainly made the match a lot more interesting and intense. Unfortunately, while friends can get together to duke it out locally, there are currently no plans for an online multiplayer mode.
The game, at first, looks a lot like Soul Calibur; however, once we got into actually playing it, Tournament of Legends certainly felt different. The gameplay mechanics are pretty self-explanatory and simple to grasp. Using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, players can perform horizontal or vertical strikes while blocking, dodging and special attacks are mapped to the buttons on the controllers. Swinging the controllers around at random won't yield much benefit either as spacing and distance also plays a large role in the game. Different characters tend to have different weapons, all of which are attributed with corresponding ranges. A scythe obviously has a longer reach than a short sword.
Another mechanic that adds a bit of spice to the gameplay were in-battle interruptions. About midway into the match, we were interrupted by a giant fowl that swooped down into the arena and the only way to avoid it was to follow the onscreen Wii Remote prompts at the proper time. Characters can also repair and regain health at the end of every round in a mini-game that involves quite a bit of pumping of the Wii Remote.
The good point about the game is that the controls are surprisingly tight. Characters react to proper gestures of the Wii Remote and we were hard pressed to find any buggy response or lag. What's most surprising is that High Voltage Software had decided to forgo any use of Nintendo's Wii MotionPlus. Pat Dolan explained that the game was well into development before the announcement and that they had already designed around many of the issues that MotionPlus looks to solve, making the adoption of the technology unnecessary.
Since being picked up by Sega and renamed to Tournament of Legends, the visual style was given a complete makeover. Once featuring decapitation and bucket-loads of blood and gore, the game has now been significantly toned down. The graphics are also much more cartoon-like in nature as opposed to the original realistic representation of Roman gladiators. Characters now tread on the verge of otherworldly designs, which is understandable since the characters originate from ancient Roman mythology.
With a solid set of responsive controls, unique innovations to the fighting genre and creative realizations of Roman mythology, Tournament of Legends looks to set itself apart from other weapon-based fighters, and doing so even without its original vision of gritty realism, blood and gore that was Gladiator AD. The game is set for release sometime in the next month so be sure to keep your eyes on it.