Review by nterparis
"Michael Buffer:"Lets get ready to r... HOLY S***!!!""
Remember the story of Ancient Rome? Rome used to be a great place filled with energetic people, great conversation, fantastic entertainment, and a stable empire. After the assassination of Julius Caesar the empire goes to hell.
In Shadow of Rome you play as two characters. Agrippa, typical gladiator that is stuck in between the post life of the assassination and the misfortunes of his parents, and Octavianus a nephew of Caesar who is curious to find the real killer.
Both characters must work together to survive the apocalyptic world that has now enveloped Rome.
During most of the story you will be playing as Agrippa. From his travels notice how everyone will feel his wrath and take notice of what he is all about. He is a gladiator, but being only a man, he will succumb to pressure from the arena and his own sanity. Octavianus will discover exactly what it is like to be the prey as he sneaks in to various places to uncover the truth. The story is nothing engrossing but fits the symbiotic appeal of a chaotic time in Rome.
Shadow of Rome is broken into 3 main sections. These sections include arena battles, stealth missions, and chariot racing, all of which do just enough keep the game fresh.
Arena (Agrippa and NPC Partners)
With excessive gore, violence, and down right insanity, all components of a good gladiator game are in place. What makes the game so much fun to play is the fact that you can cut arms, legs, heads, and torsos. Preferably to make a game of this nature there should be no evidence of censorship in the violence department and the game does a wonderful job of displaying all of the gruesome detail of the job Agrippa has to be successful at to please those damn bloodthirsty arena spectators. Those carnage-craving bastards can also be a help to Agrippa if you perform well enough in battle. Filling up the meter on the screen allows Agrippa to perform a battle cry that gives him access to the equipment he desperately needs in order to wake up tomorrow.
Stealth (Octavianus Only)
Lots of people really want to see a sequel to this game but not a sequel to the stealth missions. With that said, the story is interlocked around this endeavor and a game could not have been fortified without a story otherwise it would be mindless killing. Others enjoy it; others hate it, and while there have been suggestions for improvements in this area of the game, stealth can't be avoided. Octavianus can sneak, whistle, change clothes, hide in barrels, and be a pain in the ass. Yes it's true, avoiding the enemies is the point, but the main appeal is hearing him squeal like a school girl while he will be killed in one hit.
Chariot Racing (Agrippa Only)
The authentic Roman experience can't be fulfilled without a chariot race. In this mode it is a fight to first place at no matter the cost. Remember people, this is a chariot not a car. The chariot is very fragile because it is made of wood, so don't go ramming into the competition expecting positive results. Wheels are very important to your success and so is the stamina of your horse pulling it. To help you beat down the competition, weapon carrying slaves are positioned throughout the race. If you can drive the chariot close to them, your arsenal can be upgraded with whips, swords, or javelins.
Sound 8/10: Hear screams from your victims and cries for violence from the crowd. The quality voiceover makes a welcome appearance. The only major gripe is the lack of surround sound support.
Recommendation: Buy $20-25. Many games have tried to recreate the Roman experience and have failed because of a lackluster interpretation of story, and censored gameplay. The competition features a lack of blood and guts from a game in the Roman Era!? Romans were accustomed to the sadistic entertainment and now you can get to create it the right way. With a slew of unlockable extras and multiple difficulty levels, the game won't be leaving the PS2 anytime soon. Forget the minor stealth issues because if you like action this game is a can't miss.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/17/06
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