"Weaponlord (sometimes WeaponLord) is a 1- or 2-player fighting game with great graphics."
Just when standard one-on-one fighting games seemingly faced extinction, WeaponLord arises from the ashes of the home video game genre -- but not without a few faults.
Re-Inventing the Fight
WeaponLord has no simple fireball motions, no cheesy corner traps, and no half-life air juggles. It's complicated moves re-invent fighting-game controls. Even the throws require more than being close to your opponent and pressing one button.
Instead of solely using the standard motion-then-button routine, WeaponLord's system involves holding down buttons, then executing motions on the directional pad. While the controls are responsive enough, mastering this unique play engine requires patience and practice. Once you're familiar with it, though, you can execute some pretty wicked combos.
A unique system of blocking enables you to knock down an opponent's guard and even block in the air. The former is particularly arresting because it constantly puts players on the offensive.
The game also has its own variety of finishing moves that require more than simply pressing a series of buttons and letting the computer do the rest. Finishing moves depend entirely on the skill of the player, who must combo into a special move in the final moments of the last round, which then triggers the finishing move. Flashy players can decapitate their opponent, and if they're good enough, bat the severed head around.
Three play modes -- Story, Arcade, and Versus -- heat up the action. The first two are for one player; however, the game really shines in the two- player Versus mode, where the exciting matches are long and grueling.
The graphics are colorful: Sparks fly when weapons clash, and blood flows freely. There are humorous visuals, too -- like cutting off Korr's long ponytail. The backgrounds are also well done, but some of the background elements suffer from choppy animation.
The audio accompaniments, from the clanging of rugged metal to the slicing of tender flesh, are fitting. However, the music on some stages sounds heavy handed and operatic.
The Final Cut
Some gamers may be put off by WeaponLord's complexity, and it's surely not for the squeamish. But WeaponLord's multitiered fighting cuts a notch above the rest of the recent pack.
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Sharpen your weapons, the barbarians are coming! If you've mastered other fighting games, look to WeaponLord for an enjoyable fight that steps outside the norm established by previous 16-bit battlers.
Drawing its influence from fantasy lore like Conan the Barbarian, WeaponLord introduces seven warriors, each armed with a weapon and an overly muscle-bound body. A standard match tests you in the best two out of three rounds.
In the Story mode, you defeat the other characters until you meet the boss Zarak (who's playable in the two- player Arcade mode). Eight players can take turns fighting it out tournament style in the Versus mode.
Graphically, the sharply drawn characters stand tall. In close combat, however, they blur together so that it isn't easy to see who's getting hit.
Overall, though, the visuals are great. Sparks and steel fly when weapons collide. These barbarian barbers can even cut off each other's hair during a match, and of course, they draw plenty of blood and pack gruesome finishing moves like exploding heads.
Great sound effects like the clang of steel against steel and battle cries like Bane's victory howl add spice to each slice. The ominous soundtrack and omniscient voice of the announcer round out the sound.
Lord of the Sword
WeaponLord's controls are exceptional. The characters are extremely agile, and each one pulls at least nine special moves. With practice, you can chain the special moves together into intense combos. Also, a thrust-block feature enables you to anticipate an opponent's attack with an aggressive block that opens them up for a counter. If WeaponLord's blade has a dull spot, it's that it offers only seven playable characters and no hidden ones. At least you can work toward some multiple endings in the Story mode.
While the advanced game- play may scare away beginning barbarians, others will appreciate the deep controls. If you're a hardcore fighting fan, chances are you'll dig WeaponLord.
- You can break out of Divada's teleport to launch a surprise attack from above.
- For a good two-hitter combo as Zarak, lead with a basic hit and follow with the Web Rip (motion [right] [se] [down] [sw] [left] [B] or [C]).