Review by lastfirstborn
"Fellow Romans, lend me your ears! This game is wonderful!!"
Not too many games come along, especially one so little known or advertised, that I would deem even above a 7. But this one is a perfect in my book. The only other game to ever get a perfect score from me is Snake Eater. RE4 came close. But, I digress. Capcom has created a simply amazing title from scratch, with no huge hype or gigantic funds. The game is not only a blast to play, it has heart, and although the plot is basic, it really shines through by the end! Major doors are also opened for a sequel, if you stay behind the credits and listen.
The game consists of two sections. Straight up Action segments in arenas, filled with gore and tactical killing, and Stealth, filled with thievery, costume changes, map manipulation, and just good ole fashioned brain smarts. To be a true master of this game, is to understand and succeed at both. There are also killing segments for Agrippa outside of the arena, at both start and end of the game, that really flesh it out. Let's get to it then, shall we?
Graphics - 10/10. Definitely. On high def t.v.s, even the fuzzy crowd looks real and amazing, as if at a distance, cheering you on to kill. The character detail on muscles, clothing, armor and weaponry is top notch. Sand, water, and light particles are all looking realistic and good. When it rains or is cold, you feel it. When the heat is on in Africa, you feel that as well in the sandstorms. The palaces, busts, and other works of Roman art are also incredible, and at the end of the game you get a breathtaking view of Rome in it's entirety from the clouds above. Superb. The animals in the game also look and move very realistically, just like the men and women.
Sound - 10/10. All the sounds of battle, from death, to clanging steel on steel, to animal roars, screams of pain, cheers of the crowd, thunk of the mace up on skull, down to even the guard's patrols in the stealth segments, are incredibly realistic! They are everything you'd ever want from a story about Rome and gladitorial combat.
Gameplay - Agrippa - 10/10. His battles are not only good, gore filled fun, but are gripping. Intense, varied segments, ranging from all out killing, to team battles, to capture the flag, even all the way up to hostage rescue, really flesh out the battle segments! The weapons are incredibly varied, and wicked in both visual and execution. No pun intended. You must please the crowd to gain points, and win them over for better weaponry and armors. They are frantic, but with just enough required strategy to put this above other button mashing gorefests out there. Far and away what true fans of gladiators have been waiting for!
Gameplay - Octavianus - 9/10. The only mark not to get a perfect. Simply because I've noticed many players become so frustrated by some of the later, more difficult stealth sessions, that they quit the game entirely and miss out on it's splendor. His missions range from infiltrating buildings unseen, to dressing up as guards/barbarians and sneaking further beyond their lines, speaking with them to gain information. Often, though, it's just get from point A to point B, without being attacked by guards. One hit kills you, sadly, but realistically enough. He's a thinker, not a killer. He does get some weapons to disable foes with, however. If you've played almost any stealth title, you can imagine how this plays out, both pros, and cons. Some of his missions also require never being seen at all, and if you do, you lose. However, these are rare, and very short. You also have missions where you must stealthily tail a man or men through enemy territory unseen. I found his bits to be quite fun, and not at all breaks from the killing gameplay. It was a welcome addition to any hardcore fan of Roman politics and espionage.
Control - 10/10. The play control itself is tight, responsive, and incredibly easy to learn, yet takes some time to master. It all makes logical sense, and you'll find it second nature by the second chapter, if not sooner.
Replayability - 10/10. Very high here. I found myself replaying it a good four times through on normal and hard, and there is also an extreme difficulty that warrants at least one more playthrough for the sheer challenge. There are also many hidden bonus incentives to unlock, if you play well and smart. You can also pick up little things in the story you wouldn't often remember.
Bonuses - 10/10. There are many hidden modes, discovered by gaining Gold, Silver, and Bronze Cups on the events as Agrippa. Also, Octavianus can obtain money here and there and off dropped guards to purchase items, used to unlock many cosmetic changes for his clothing, and even hair! Highly worthwhile and fun to unlock. There are also many hidden stages and challenge modes that can only be unlocked through playing the game well as both characters!
Overall - 10/10. This game has it all, for any solid action fan or stealthy one. The plot is also very rich, albeit not entirely historical. The characters were also real in history, most all of them. Definitely more than a rental, buy this game if you like action, or are just a fan of Capcom fast paced games with loads to do and unlock!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 02/22/05
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