PS2 Reviews: Ben Hur - Blood of Braves
Ben Hur - Blood of Braves screenshots
The Final Say!
Ben Hur: Blood of Braves -
reviewed by Andrew B
Review Date: 19 February 2003
Review Score 7/10 Distributed By: Red Ant
Developed By: Microids
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"Harness the Reins of your chariot, and rule over your opponents with no mercy."
Ben Hur: Blood of Braves is a strange racing game developed by Microids that faithfully recreates the ancient world and its number one sport and entertainment of that era, chariot racing. When I first heard about this title, I was extremely interested but also extremely apprehensive because the developers were going out on a limb by making a racing game based in the ancient world. With such a wild premise, Microids took a gamble that would either pay off or not.
With over 15 different characters to choose from, you play the role of a Champion that is in service of the Gods themselves. In order to fulfil your destiny, you must prove your bravery to the gods and eventually become the greatest Chariot racer to have ever graced the ancient world. By becoming the greatest, the Gods themselves will bless you with their greatest gift and allow you to sit at their sides and become a God.
Ben Hur - Blood of Braves contains a variety of different gameplay modes that include Training, Career, Arcade, Time Attack, Death Match and Multiplayer. The main method of gameplay is the Career mode or Ascension that has your character racing around the ancient world, competing against other characters in order to be bestowed by the Gods themselves. In its purest form, Ben Hur is a racing game that has you competing against other chariot racers. There is however a twist to racing chariots and if you have seen the movie Ben Hur, then you all know what I am talking about because chariot racing can be quite brutal at times. While trying to keep on the track at high speeds, you must also engage your opponents with a variety of ancient weapons that include swords, spears and shields.
When you encounter another racer, that is, if you are close enough to them, you engage them in combat and use whatever weapons you have available to sabotage their race. Although this premise sounds quite interesting, unfortunately it wasn't successfully implemented into the game and the battle scenes seem quite clunky and limited as to what you can do. Fortunately there are over 14 different weapons and 12 shields that you can use to battle your opponents.
The control system of the game is quite easy and controlling the chariot is done via the left analog stick and the X button to accelerate and the Square to brake. Unfortunately you are limited to what kind of attacks you can perform and you basically have five different attacks that you can perform that include a basic attack, two rapier attacks and two power attacks. The whole combat system of Ben Hur seems like an after thought and feels forced and at times quite unplayable.
Apart from weapons, your chariot racers also have access to over 64 different spells that can help them win the race and hinder your opponents. The spells are quite easy to control and are done via the L1 button to cast the spell while the L2 button is used to select the spell, a little fiddly at times, especially when you are racing at high speeds but fortunately the game pulls off this feature successfully. In the career mode, you have access to your villa after the races that allows you to configure your carts, select what weapons you wish to use in the next race and tweak various other game settings. Spells can be purchased at the temple but depending on which god you select, you are limited to what spells your characters can use.
Graphically, Ben Hur is an impressive game that faithfully recreates the ancient world from various locales such as ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. The detail to attention is quite amazing and you actually feel like you are travelling through the streets of Pompeii or Guizeh. There are also various lighting effects and some great mist effects that help with the atmosphere of the game. The spell effects in the game are a little campy and sometimes too colourful for the various colourless locales of the game such as the brown deserts of Egypt or the greys of Greece. There are also various weather effects such as snow and storms that look quite impressive and match them with the various locales and you have a graphically good looking game. The characters, horses and chariots are extremely well animated but every now and then, the chariots looked forced on the screen as if some animations are missing but fortunately the game runs at an extremely smooth 60 frames per second.
Musically, Ben Hur - Blood of Braves is a very mellow sounding soundtrack that isn't offensive for the gamer and does have this "ancient" sound to it that helps with the theme of antiquity. There are also various sound effects such as the wheels of chariots racing on dirt roads, the clank of steel against steel and flesh and various background sounds to keep the game interesting.
In conclusion, Ben Hur - Blood of Braves could of been a better game and feels like it was rushed to hit the markets. Just about everything in the game is there, amazing graphics, beautifully orchestrated soundtracks and authentic sound effects but the gameplay is a little to be desired. Microids should have pushed this game back until they perfected the gameplay but I'm sure it will find a group of loyal followers that will get a blast out of playing this. The variety of gameplay modes does increase the longevity of the game and the graphics will keep most gamers entertained but unfortunately for us, something was lacking.
- Andrew B
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