"Final Fantasy Tactics + Shining Force + Mario Golf = Gladius"

Intro: I've been using Gamefaqs for nearly 4 years now and never written a review, so I felt it was time I gave something back from the site I've gained so much from.

Basic Story: When you turn on Gladius you'll see an introductory story about the ''Dark God'' and get some back ground information about the land. After that you'll be given the choice between playing as ''Valens'' or ''Ursula''. While the difficulty for the Valens quest beings at a slightly higher level, this choice is essentially boils down to do you want a male or female Gladiator to be your main character. After choosing your main character you'll begin building your school (adding more gladiators) and fighting tournaments to win recognition and trophies.

Gameplay: There's an optional walkthrough for each type of battle that will explain all the rules and controls to you, so there's no reading necessary to play this game. You can just pick up the game and start playing when you get it. In battle the controls work very similar to those of Mario Golf. You're given a swing meter with a target area. The goal is to push the required button to stop the meter in the target area. More damage is done if you can stop the meter properly, just like in Mario Golf, in which the ball goes farther if you stop the meter properly.
There is a world map in which you travel and enter towns. The towns consist of a menu in which options available consist of recruiting more gladiators, learning the history of the town, buying equipment (weapons, shields, armor, helmets, etc.) and battles. The battles are divided into leagues, tournaments and a regional championship. You will first enter a league, which consists of a variety of battles. Generally there are 3-6 different battles in each league and you'll have your choice of playing all of them, but typically you'll only need to do 3-4 of them to complete the league. This provides a great deal of replay value.
The battles themselves work a lot like those in Shining Force or Final Fantasy Tactics if you're familiar with either of those games. You begin each battle with a set number of gladiators, generally between 1-5 and a set number of foes, usually the same number as you have gladiators give or take 1. However, there can be as many as four teams in the arena, all of which fight with each other. A battle is over when all the gladiators on all opposing teams are defeated, once again you do not have to win every battle to complete the game.

The types of battles include:
*Melee - this is normal combat in which winning is accomplished by defeating all the opposing gladiators.
*King of the hill - a designated space on the battlefield is the ''hill'' you score points by placing your gladiators on the hill. The team with the most points at the end of the allotted time period wins. There is also a version of this game with multiple hills.
*Points battle - in this battle no damage is assessed to any gladiator. Instead the damage is tabulated as a team score and the team that can inflict the most damage at the end of the allotted time period wins. So if you hit an opponent for 83 damage and then again for 47, they don't lose 83 and 47 hit points, but rather your score is 83 + 47 or 130, and this is a running total.
*Destroy the opposing teams statue - in this game each team has a statue in which they have to protect. The game is won when one team has inflicted enough damage to destroy the other team's statue.
*Destroy the barrels - in this game there a multiple barrels scattered throughout the battle arena. The team to destroy the most barrels in the allotted time is the winner. Generally there are five barrels and three minutes in this game, so destroying three barrels will result in a win. However the battle does not end until all barrels have been destroyed or until time runs out.
*Random encounters - there is also an occasional random encounter on the world map when you are traveling between towns. These work like the melee battles and the team to kill all the other team's gladiators first wins. However, if one of your gladiators falls in this scenario they are gone for good.

Since you must be curious some of the types of gladiators include:
Barbarians, knights, ogres, satyrs, bears, wolves, cats, archers, and Minotaurs. There are many more, but I'll won't ruin the surprise.

Graphics: Gladius' graphics are not overwhelmingly impressive, however they will suffice. The level of detail on the gladiators makes up for what is lost on the world map. The arenas themselves are all unique with an active crowd that will cheer the gladiators on.

Sound: Lucas Arts excels in the sound for any of their games that I've played and Gladius is no exception. There are several scenes in which the gladiators have voice dialogues between each other and gladiators are constantly taunting each other on the battlefield. The music is also fitting and goes well with the game.

Replay Value: As mentioned before Gladius has two main characters both with a different storyline. Thus you should expect to be able to play the game through at least twice. Since you do not have to complete every mission you may wish to go back and complete them or play through the game again and do different missions. Overall I'd say Gladius has tremendous replay value.

Investment: Gladius should take around 40 hours or more to complete an entire quest.

Multiplayer: Gladius also features an option for multiplayer which allows up to four people to control various gladiators on your team.

Suggested Price: $19.99

Final Thoughts: Gladius can be a very deep and involving game, or if you prefer you can avoid most of the dialogue and story and get straight to the battles. The controls are easy to learn, yet become varied enough as the game progresses to avoid becoming monotonous. For the RPG & strategy game starved Gamecube owner, Gladius should more than quench your thirst. I myself could easily play this game again due to the variety and the overall fun level of the game.

Scorecard:
*Story 8
*Gameplay 10
*Graphics 8
*Sound 9
*Value 10
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*Overall 9 - Buy it!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/18/04


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