I’m quite the fan of ancient Rome. Between the amazing tactics of their armies and the brutal displays of their gladiators, and with quite a rich and varied mythology, it was a time ripe for inspiring modern video games. Unfortunately not many developers have touched the subject of chariot racing, a sport popularized in the modern day by movies like Ben-Hur and Gladiator. This is why I was excited when I got my hands on CHARIOT WARS from OM Entertainment. With ten different chariots, five horses, and eight different playable characters, as well as four different countries to race in, I thought I couldn’t lose!
I was wrong.
CHARIOT WARS – the needless capitalization should have been a warning – does not play like a finished game. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was an alpha build that managed to accidentally get published on Steam. From the strange tearing and glitching of the cardboard cut-out foliage that decorates the sidelines to the ‘realistic cloth physics’ which aren’t, there isn’t much in this game that I would consider finished. Low resolution skyboxes at night, invisible walls and collision meshes, wheels that aren’t attached to chariots, absurd animations that resemble the convulsions of a dying animal, these are all problems that utterly plague this game.
In fact, it’s so unfinished that I assumed it must be another Early Access game on Steam, but no. This is a fully finished and released game, acclaimed as being a AAA gaming experience from its developer and publisher OM Entertainment. I attempted to hit their forums and ask a few questions: was I doing something wrong? was my version bugged? Is there a patch planned for release? But their forums are still ‘coming soon,‘ as they have been since 2014.
But the entire game isn’t terrible; there are bits I actually liked. The chariots are beautifully modeled, each having its own style and feel to it, with each one being based on a different god from Roman mythology. The soundtrack is big, booming, and wondrous, with a full chorus and orchestra that evokes an epic feeling that the rest of the game just can’t live up to. The story, while it is a bit nonsensical and almost completely unrelated to the actual gameplay, is told through well drawn comic strips before each race, a story about a murder plot committed by the same 40 conspirators who killed Julius Caesar.
At $24.99 on Steam CHARIOT WARS would be a reasonable price indeed for a polished AAA game – even a reasonably budgeted one – but given the state it’s in this is a slap in the face for anyone who makes the mistake of purchasing it. Luckily, Steam has recently begun accepting refunds on any game purchased within the last 14 days as long as you played it for two hours or less. With all due respect, it shouldn’t take you that long to start having buyer’s remorse.