Solo Ultratus - Head-to-head battles with an upgradable gladiator
I Repeat: I am Not a Murderer
Without wanting to sound too much like a mass murderer, I really quite enjoyed the brutal and insanely silly action of the first two swords and games. There’s just something quite empowering about taking control of the fate of your very own gladiator and being responsible for every aspect of his life and career from his appearance and his attributes through to the weapons he holds and the opponents that he fights. At risk of also sounding like killing spree waiting to happen though, the mindless violence and the frequent decapitation was just plain fun, and the glory of pleasing the crowd was a downright addictive thing to achieve. To make me sound a little less murder-ey, I’d like to point out that I only enjoy the simulation of these acts, and Swords and Sandals 3: Solo Ultratus is yet another one of Fizzy’s in-depth gladiator games that brings glorified violence and mindless killing to the world on a purely flash-based basis, which definitely makes it OK.
Same Old, Same Old
At its heart, the battling aspect of Swords and Sandals 3 remains as it always has been. You and your opponent are stationed on opposite sides of the screen whilst you must use the various buttons that are on the screen in order to control your gladiator, taking it in turns with your opponent to make a move. While the layout of the buttons on the screen may have changed to being exclusively stationed on a banner across the bottom of the screen, you still perform all the old tricks such as walking backwards and forwards, jumping, and taunting your opponent and close-quarters moves like strong, mild, and medium attacks can also be used. New additions include a full-on charge move and the ability to rest in order to regain HP. A variety of weapons both melee and ranged can be used in your battles, but some fights have restrictions on the use of projectile weapons and certain other spells and additions to your arsenal; it’s really all about adjusting your strategy for the opponent/arena in hand.
Customisation Level: Over 9000
The battle format may bear similarity to its predecessors, but the sheer level of customisation afforded to you has risen from impressive to utterly ridiculous, but – and I hate to say it about a series I’ve loved for so long - overly so. The game’s predecessor allowed you to visit an armoury and blacksmith to purchase weapons and armour as well as allowing you to buy potions and magic to use, but Swords and Sandals 3 has simply gone overboard on the whole idea of variability in provisions for your gladiator. You must now visit about 9 different buildings in order to assemble your arsenal for battle including Father Painbringer’s laser emporium (it’s a shame because I really like the whimsical name), Little Fat Kid’s Magic Shoppe, and Mr. Muji’s Swordmaster. Also, even though the quantity of weapons, spells, and armour has increased substantially, the menus and the displaying of the weapons is done rather poorly.
A Saddening Conclusion
I’m not quite sure how a game can introduce quite so much favourable content and yet look and feel worse than its much simpler predecessor. Ok, so the weapons are plentiful but the shop system makes purchasing them an absolute chore; there are more attributes to upgrade but the outcome of each battle relies almost purely on the numbers, therefore making the whole thing a lesson in mindless grinding for levels; the graphics have been noticeably overhauled, but the physics still feel all wrong and the animation/movement of your character (particularly when approaching/interacting with an opponent) is only a few levels above dire; it all just feels a little wrong, crowded, overfilled, and most of all, unfortunate. I can only hope that the Swords and Sandals 4 doesn’t follow in this game’s footsteps.
Download Swords and Sandals 3 as part of the full collection on Steam.