Circus Maximus: Chariot Wars Xbox


Mixed or average reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 26
  2. Negative: 2 out of 26
Buy On
  1. The game is fun, but only after you master the steep learning curve. The game is tough to learn because all of its controls — buttons, triggers and thumbsticks — must be used for practically any race.
  2. Playboy
    Scores points for an original theme coupled with fresh play mechanics. It then promptly loses them to poor execution.
  3. The incredible multi-player makes this great to play with friends, but the controls make the single player more of a chore than actual enjoyment.
  4. The game suffers from too many negatives (controls, graphics, audio) to make it really worth purchasing.
  5. You actually have to use EVERY button on the controller, pretty much all at the same time, or at least be able to access them quickly. The Xbox controller is large and the buttons are small, the game action moves fast. You do the math.
  6. Official Xbox Magazine
    The graphics tend to give it the look of a first-generation Dreamcast game, rather than a second-generation Xbox title – which may turn off those accustomed to the visual bells and whistles of, say, "Wreckless." [Apr 2002, p.84]
  7. Actually competing in a deadly chariot race is an intriguing concept for a game, but Circus Maximus doesn't manage to make the experience all that exciting.
  8. Game Informer
    Although it looks nice, this game has a number of problems; the fact that chariots are really slow and tip over very easily is the most glaring. [Apr 2002, p.83]
  9. You'll find yourself confounded by overly tricky controls, repetitive tracks and a single-player mode that lacks any real meat.
  10. 60
    While the courses are fairly long, there are not enough racers to make it eventful or as interesting as it could have been, providing periods where things are just plain dull.
  11. 60
    The biggest problem is that despite the large number of tracks, the racing starts to feel the same after a while. The races are exercises in cutting off your opponents, grabbing the turbo power-ups at the right time, and learning to take curves properly.
  12. Taking into account all of the positive aspects of the game, namely the intricate but responsive control scheme, the competitive computer opponents, and the fun courses, the shortcomings can be chalked up to a developer's first attempt at offering something different.
  13. Xbox Nation Magazine
    The tracks are fun(ish), the graphics are good(ish), and the controls are responsive(ish), but the outrageous "only in a videogame" components are curiously missing. [Spring 2002, p.93]
  14. Whilst some of the levels have a good degree of detail unfortunately for most of them they lack inspiration and are actually quite dull.
  15. Unfortunately, they have opted for color over realism. This is not a good thing, as it gives the game a cartoony look and can make it difficult to tell the difference between a dirt road and, say, that mud embankment up ahead.

Awards & Rankings

#90 Most Discussed Xbox Game of 2002
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 5 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 4
  2. Negative: 2 out of 4
  1. Apr 4, 2017
    Circus Maximus: Chariot Wars = Pure awesomeness.

    Go through the first few Academy stages to begin, there is a brief learning curve. After
    Circus Maximus: Chariot Wars = Pure awesomeness.

    Go through the first few Academy stages to begin, there is a brief learning curve. After all, you will be driving a chariot mostly along winding hazardous roads while simultaneously wielding a weapon via the warrior on back. Literally every button has a function, and most of them are necessary at some point in a race. For example, you may need to pull left trigger for that tight left turn, or pull the left stick back to duck under a low handing branch.

    If you want to dial back the complexity at any point you can 1) set difficulty level to Novice (easy), and the chariot will not tip over around sharp turns (tipping is avoided by leaning your warrior into the turn), 2) turn on auto-pilot during the match, so you can focus just on attacking with your warrior, 3) in multiplayer, have a buddy control driving or fighting with their own controller while you do the other. Regardless of your starting method, I've little doubt you'll wish to control more as you progress. The more you familiarize yourself with the game controls, the more fun you'll have attempting to juggle them throughout the race.

    Of course the graphics will lack compared to today's games but they are plenty good, and you'll be too engaged in the action to care. All of the interaction between chariots, road hazards, warrior attacks delivered and received, all feel very fair. If a chariot wipe-out leaves you confused as to the cause, the fun auto-replay of the crash likely clues you in as to what it was. Very rarely does the chariot seem to crash for no clear reason. The chariot wipe-outs are hilarious, with horses, chariot, and occupants all tumbling, sometimes flying.

    The core experience I've had with this game is one which rides a nice balance of challenge, entertainment, without being overbearing. I found myself consistently seeking to improve my ability to drive and fight at the same time, because I feel rewarded for doing so. Taking out an opponent in mid-race feels great, winning the race feels like an accomplishment. Even crashing or losing the race feels exhilarating because it's so much fun and there's a feeling that your controller skills progressed a least a bit more. You want to go back in and put those skills to the test.

    I bought this Xbox game many years back in a bargain bin and it is still a blast to play, solo or with others. You can play up to 4 at once (2 driver/warrior tandems fighting head to head). It can be played on Xbox 360. I'm not familiar with it's availability on other platforms.

    Nowadays everything is online, so the dream would be to have this game remade with that capability, as well as more tracks, along with customized and upgrade-able chariots/horses/drivers/warriors.

    I've seen some videos in recent years of people playing this on a whim, and then discovering what a diamond in the rough it truly is. I can't say enough about this game and hope that somehow it gets resurrected. It's a shame that it got a significant amount of negative reviews from some seemingly high profile critics who obviously did not go through the tutorial or read the user manual.

    If you have the slightest inclination to drive a chariot at high speed while simultaneously engaging in melee weapon combat on the back portion of said chariot, then you seek Circus Maximus: Chariot Wars.
    Full Review »
  2. Oct 4, 2015
    No lo disfrute cuando era pequeño imagínate a hora jaja . juego muy simplon , cutre , ridículo y que al principio haces dos o tres carreras yNo lo disfrute cuando era pequeño imagínate a hora jaja . juego muy simplon , cutre , ridículo y que al principio haces dos o tres carreras y después ya te aburrías . Juego bastante malo Full Review »
  3. BenT.
    Nov 15, 2004
    This is truly the worst game i've ever played. Seriously. Its no fun at all. Good idea wasted. Too bad.