Review by CleverCugel

"Enjoyable and thorough"

I have never played a strategy RPG game before. I saw the Gladius preview on the Rebel Strike preview disk and decided to pick it up. Although the game got good to average reviews, don’t be fooled. Lucas Arts delivers a hearty and fun portion of Strategy Role Playing that is very enjoyable.

The game is based upon gladiatorial combat and borrows many roman themes and concepts. It also incorporates many Greek and roman fantasies. Apart from this, the game is not based upon anything historical. This game will not help you study for a classics exam. That being said, on to the review.

Gameplay 9/10
Should be a ten. The load screens and a few glitches are the only things detracting, and neither of these are major issues. The flow of combat at first seems slow, but once you give the game an hour or two, a whole new level of depth is uncovered. There is a large amount of variety here and this game shouldn’t be boring if you find the premise entertaining. If the overall combat system does not entertain you, you are in for a rough ride and will have a hard time enjoying this game. There are standard battle objectives (kill the other guys) and objectives based upon some goal (hold the high ground, destroy their base, etc.) Each type of fight has different strategies and requires thought as to who you send in to fight. There is a health roster of combatants to choose from with over fifty different types in the game. Each one has a large amount of skills to develop as well as equipment to buy/earn. You can even change the appearance of your warrior. Small gripe-you cannot name them-but you can’t have everything. I find the gameplay to be fun almost to the point addiction. Once you are into it, you will not want to stop.

Whoa, not a lot here. There is a plot you are following and it is entertaining for it’s part, but this is not the main reason to play this game. The cut scenes are short, but look decent, and the voice acting is appropriate where added. The quality of the story isn’t lacking, they just don’t develop and engage the player in the story very much. In this game, I would consider that a positive actually. If the story were lengthy and engaging, I would be more inclined to skip it to get back to battling. But to treat this section fairly I have to give the low mark. If you really want plot, stick Gladiator or Clash of the Titans in your DVD player.

This game is not bad looking. There just isn’t a lot to impress me. The character models look ok, and the effects look nice. Overall nothing really comes off as impressive compared to other titles available. This does not detract from the gameplay at all, and doesn’t really bother me I this title.

Sound effects are appropriate and voice acting is reasonable. No complaints here. The soundtrack is good at first but can get repetitive by the time you get ready to leave an area.

Play Time/Replayability10/10
There are two playable quest that offer different stories. The quests are supposed to take 45-50 hours. My first time through I am expecting to exceed that so they seem accurate. With 90+ hours of gameplay there is plenty to do in this game. There are some sidequest available if you get bored with the standard arena combat as well as some secret characters to acquire. This one will last a while.

Final Verdict8.5/10

While there a few minor flaws that keep Gladius from being an instant classic, nothing keeps it from being a fun engaging strategy RPG. Newcomers to the genre should not be frightened off, as the learning curve isn’t impossible. Rent if you’re unsure, although it will be very difficult to get through this game during a rental period. Well worth the purchase if you are already a fan of the genre.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/17/03

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