Review by sliccat

"A great game, but not the best"

Gladius is without a doubt one of the hardest games in history to review. On one hand, it's accessible to everyone, looks great, is exciting, lasts a long time, and most importantly, is very fun to play. On the other hand it has so many little flaws like it's slowness, long loading times, bad voice acting, slowness, and, of course, its slowness. After taking two years to make this game you'd think that Lucas Arts would have spent more time on the details.

When starting Gladius, you can pick one of the story's two main characters: Valens, the son of the worlds greatest Gladiator, Munio; or Usula, daughter of barbarian King Orin II. The two stories interwine nicely, switching it up just enough for you to want to play it through twice, but still running along the same basic theme. You are starting your own Gladiator school, and while trying to become the worlds greatest Gladiators, your innate powers cause attention from unwanted factions. I won't give the whole story away, but it despite being somewhat predictable, it's very interesting, and fulfills it's purpose of getting you deeper into the game.

So without further adue, here are the scores:

Graphics:
Gladius looks great. The environments are all completely different, and all the movements the characters make are very smooth and flow nicely. But I would have liked to see a better world map, and more detailed features everywhere, when you're at a distance, the game looks fantastic, but in the close-ups during the movies, the faces look like they were made for the N64 instead of the Gamecube. But even to find those flaws in the graphics, you have to be extremely nit-picky to pick them up.

Summary: This game looks better than most third-person shooting, and the animations are smoother than almost any game I've seen.

Score: 9.0

Sound:
Ever since George Lucas came out with Star Wars, two things have remained pretty consistant: Brilliant soundtracks that pull you into the experience perfectly; and bad acting. Gladius holds up this proud tradition perfectly. The tracks have great quality, they vary significantly, and really add to the experince. And the voice acting? Well...

Summary: They could sell the soundtrack for $15.99 at Tower Records, as long as whoever played Ursula didn't do the commercial.

Score: 8.5

Replay Value:
With two story lines that last potientially 50 hours each this game is well worth buying please don't rent this one, because you will hate yourself for the rest of your life. If you do rent it, you'll just end up buying it anyway, or renting it about five more times. If you have fifty dollars and a GameCube, rent THUG, Viewtiful Joe, Shinx and the Cursed Mummy, and Prince of Persia, buy this. There are only two real weaknesses here. The first is the multiplayer. You can't play with people who have a PS2 or an Xbox, and that keeps this game from being played every day for the next two years. The only other weakness is lack of ability to create a player, or even chose the class you want your main character to be. That's one of strongest attributes in an RPG, and I was sad to see that excluded from this one.

Summary: This one will keep you playing for months, but the lack of a create-a-player and a true multiplayer mode keep this from being a ten.

Score: 9.0

Technical:
This is the worst area of Gladius, and it's still better than in most games. The biggest flaw in this whole game is the slowness(which is also a gameplay problem, but I'll get into that later). Outside of the battlefield, there seems to be a loading time between every press of the button. In the battle, everything takes about a second or two too long to execute, and this really takes away from a game that would otherwise be totally addictive. But on the bright side, Gladius is a remarkable representation of a real life battle. You can tell that if you sped things up a little and made everything happen at the same time(as opposed to in turns) you could be watching a movie of a medieval times battle(except for the magic).

Summary: There was no possible wasy to avoid the slowness and keeping the gameplay as unique as it was, and you can tell some serious thought went into this.

Score: 8.0

Gameplay:
And here we are. This is the part of Gladius that really shines. This is what you can tell took Lucas Arts two years to completeIt's original(for and RPG, anyways), crafty, addictive and continuously keeps you thinking hard and long about what your next move will be, and how you can turn the balance in your favor, especially when playing against you're friends. This is really a huge cross between the rock-paper-scissors strategy of Pokemon and the think about the whole picture strategy of a chess match, except it's a 3-dimensional strategy.

Basically, light beats heavy, heavy beats medium, and medium beats light but that's only looking at the roof of a fifteen story building from a helicopter. If you put you Gladiators in the right position, and use your skills right, you can beat anybody with anybody else, because the class advantages are only advantages, not the soul of the game. The true beauty of the game is that you can take one look at it and play it easily, if you don't want to think to much about it, or you can go into its limitless depths, and master the game completely.

Summary: A truly rewarding experience, I would LOVE to give this a ten, but the slowness nags at it just enough to keep it from being perfect.

Score: 9.5

Fun:
Bottom Line: this game is fun for everybody. On every level, this game is one of the best out there, with very few flaws. The slowness again takes away from the score here, but even that couldn't keep this from being the most fun strategy or RPG for gamecube.

Score: 9.0

Overall:
With great graphics, a very good soundtrack, and brilliant gameplay, Gladius is definately one of the best games to come out this year, and probably the best RPG. Gladius just does all the big things right. The problem is that it does very few of the little details even decently, which is unacceptable for a game that took two years to make. Lucas Arts set out to make a game different from anything before it and redefine the genre. As for originality, they hit the nail on the head. But as for redefining the genre, they fell just short of doing that. But it's not as if Lucas Arts has never done as sequel before, now is it?

Final Score: 9.0


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/23/03


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