Preview: Did we need a new Warlords?

June 25, 2011

Retro revivals are a growing trend these days, and for the most part, we’ve enjoyed seeing our old friends get a new coat of paint. Warlords, on the other hand, seems like your standard revamp-gone-wrong, with too much meddling and tacking on ornaments to keep the original’s fun.

For those who haven’t played the original, Warlords is essentially four-player Breakout: you have blocks surrounding you in one corner of the screen and a paddle that goes around them. The game’s spent blocking shots at you and deflecting them at enemies, and the last one standing wins. This version is available on the 360’s Game Room service, and there’s also a 2008 XBLA release that leaves the gameplay intact and adds camera support for some reason.

Here we are, though, with a new version. Our hands-on experience included both single-player and multiplayer modes, and it’s clearly more fun with friends (as it’s always been). Where the upcoming game seems to go wrong is in its efforts to distinguish it from past Warlords games. The new visual style makes things look like castles and beasts and such, which would be fine if it didn’t make it harder to see damage taken and discern where the attacks are coming from. The tendency to mess with the camera angle only makes it more difficult to aim and see what’s going on. There are monsters on the field that attack players, which is clearly an addition to create more tension and frenzy, but most of the time that guy just pummels one player relentlessly.

It’s not all bad, though; the new modes are interesting, and even with these issues there is still Warlords fun to be had. It’s possible that these new things can be adjusted to; we’ll try our best when it releases on XBLA and PSN later this summer.