Review by DethFromAbove

"I love you, Agrippa"

I first saw this game at GameStop last month. My first thought was, "Oh great, a Gladiator ripoff." When I saw the pricetag, I was doubly turned off. I turned to the back, and the description was nothing stellar. Still, the thought of gladiatorial combat tempted me, and there seemed to be plenty of gore. The rest of the selection was either crappy or out of my price range, so I decided to leave and come back when I had enough money.

The next time I entered the store, I found Shadow of Rome. Still, I was reluctant to shell over $50 for it, as it wasn't really exposed enough for me to have an impression of it. I looked around for an hour, and when I was convinced that Shadow of Rome was the way to go, I payed for the game and walked home nervously.

I get home, pop the game in, and the intro video chimes in. Gore, conspiracy, war; all the things I want in a video game. I start up a new game, still reluctant to think highly of it.

WHAM

The tutorial level rocks me to the core, and after a restart (I was killed, but I wanted a second slug at that fat bastard) I was hooked on the game. Now that the backstory is out of the way, on to the review!

Graphics:10

Very nice. Very nice. I must've spent ten minutes rotating the camera around Agrippa so as the sun would shine off his helmet. Everything gives off a glare. Weapons look deadly as hell, and the gore and blood effects are done perfectly. Fire effects are cool too.

The city and arenas themselves are also rendered great. I hardly saw any collision detection problems. There's no pop-up during chariot races; no glitching during arena battles.

Also, the Foro Romano is awe-inspiring. The developers have surpassed themselves here.

Sound: 10

When you swing a sword and connect, you expect to hear a sound similar to silk being shred. When you swing a Halberd, you expect to hear a sound similar, if not identical to, meat being cleaved. The sound in the game will send shivers down your spine. Slicing off limbs and heads never sounded so good. The clang of the sword is a nice touch.

The music in the game makes every battle feel epic. There's hardly a dull moment in the arena

The sounds for Octavianus' segments are also great. His sandals make realistic slapping sounds when you run, and I the melody that plays when you wander the street is cheerful, yet melancholy. Thumbs up, Capcom.

Gameplay: 10

This game is fun. I haven't had this much fun since I was playing San Andreas. Arena battles are surprisingly varied, and the stealth segments, though lacking the realism and feel of Metal Gear Solid, still deliver the sneaky part of espionage.

The SALVO system, while not totally original, is a godsend. Similar to Devil May Cry's point system, you get SALVO points by performing actions that the audience likes. For instance, if you cut someone in half, the bloodthirsty audience will year for more. If you manage to whip them into a frenzy and appeal to show them that you fight for them, and only them, they may throw you a powerful weapon. Hell, you can use severed limbs as weapons; how is this game not fun?

Control: 10

There's hardly a learning curve to be found here. Button positions make sense, and once you have the controls down, you'll never have to think about performing moves.

Story: 10

A twisting story of deceit and conspiracy surrounds the murder of Julius Caesar, the most celebrated hero Rome had ever seen. It's your job to uncover the murderer of his majesty, and make him pay (or them?) pay.

Nerve-racking to the end, the story rivals that of Metal Gear Solid, although there are some lackluster performances by the actors. Developers should be taking notes on this game.

Also notable is the difficulty in the game. Even on the Normal difficulty setting, the game is HARD. It is possible to be killed in the tutorial match if you're not skilled or careful. Every single match you participate in presents very real danger if you don't know what you're doing. However, the game is never unfair. Even if you're down for the count, there's always a weapon to steel or food to beg for.

Pros:
- Great graphics
- Terrific score
- Battle segments that make you wet your pants
- Awesome points system
- Clever stealth segments

Cons:

- A few lackluster voice actors
- Lacking weapon variety
- Combo system is based or repetitiveness
- Lack of multiplayer :(

Get this game right now. Also, if you're lucky enough to have enough cash left over for the three-disk Special Edition of Gladiator, buy that too. It really gives the game perspective. Dish out those dollars, you'll be glad you did.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/30/05


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