Ultimate Arena [Early Access]

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Ultimate Arena on Steam

MSRP: $1.99

Platforms: Windows

Release: 2/29/16

Ultimate Arena is not a game in the traditional sense, and is probably even less interactive than a lot of clicker / idle games once you start it running.  However, with some initial preparation, the fun of this Hunger Games type simulator really shines.  It comes with pre-loaded characters (from history, fiction, and pop culture), but I decided to input 30 major characters from the Game of Thrones TV show and see what happened.

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Creating custom characters is pretty easy (although trying to add tags crashes the program at this time).  I found a bunch of 100 X 100 pixel icons of some of GoT’s major players, and did some guesstimation on their skills.  I was a little disappointed to not see a setting for guile or cunning or even general intelligence, but even working with what was there, it ends up being a pretty good time.

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Early on, people start to form alliances, craft weapons, medikits and traps. But it won’t be long until things start to go very very badly for your players – not unlike the actual TV show, in this case.

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The game tracks the number of fighters left, how many deaths were player kills, and there’s a tracker along the bottom to see who has died, and who has the most deaths on their hands.  The game will also make a wager at who will be the last man (or woman) standing, and show you who is closest to losing their mind at any given moment.  As the player number dwindles, you’ll probably want to increase the speed – less combatants means less frequent updates.

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It’s not a fancy game – in fact, I’d call it more of a toy than a game, anyway.  You will get out of it approximately what you put into it – it took me about as long to input all the characters as it did for me to run one Quick Match scenario.  There is definitely quite a bit of room for improvement, starting with a small readjustment to the size of the UI elements in order to be able to show updates, stats, map and the fighter list at once without overlap. Land mines seem to be ridiculously overpowered (they took about half of my players out the first time around), so I opted to turn them off on my next go, and was much more satisfied.

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Personally, I doubt I would have been too amused by Ultimate Arena if I hadn’t had an idea of how I wanted to craft my characters. That said, it’s bargain priced, and has the option for a lot of customization.  The developer intends to also add Workshop support when the game comes out of Early Access, but also plans on doubling the price.  Although $4 isn’t bank-breaking for most folks, if you’re sure you want to play around with Ultimate Arena, there’s no good reason not to buy it now.

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