Review by Ross1Roach

Reviewed: 07/27/05

Gladitorial Combat - Justified.

Shadow of Rome follows a semi-fictional story of Pre-Christian era Rome. The story is told through the eyes of two characters. One of these characters goes by the name of Agrippa, who was part of Rome's indestructible army. Agrippa is strong, and his sections of the game require lightning speed and huge combo attacks. The other playable character in Shadow of Rome is called Octavianus. Octavianus cannot provide much help in the way of combat, but his sections of the game require you to be stealthy.

The game begins, and we are told that Julius Caesar has been murdered. Agrippa, one of our heroes, learns that his father is the culprit. Agrippa's close friend Octavianus sets out to find out the truth. He knows that there must be more to this than meets the eye.

The story unfolds, and many twists and turns are in store for the player.

The graphics in this game are among the best seen on the Playstation 2, hands down. The gameplay graphics are right up there with Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, and the cut-scene clips are even more polished and slick looking than ever before. There is a great deal of blood in this game, and, as well as being disgusting, it looks excellent, even though the amount of blood poured from an enemy before he dies is somewhat unrealistic.

As previously stated, Agrippa's sections of the game involve you killing a lot of enemies, and fighting in gladiatorial combat arenas. The action is very violent, and you can sever the body parts of your opponents. You can even beat your opponents to death using their own severed limbs if there are no nearby weapons available to you. Speaking of weapons, each weapon breaks after a certain number of hits, so you will never have one weapon for too long. This leaves the player searching the grounds of the battlefield for new weapons. A "Salvo" is awarded each time a special attack is performed, and when your "Salvo Meter" is full, you can cheer/appeal to the audience. If this is performed successfully, then the audience will throw special weapons down to you. You can also cheer just to get normal weapons, and food, which restores health. The fighting sections in Shadow of Rome never get annoying or tedious, and this type of fighting system would breathe new life into any game. Basically, the fighting system, and the special attacks you can pull off make the fighting the best thing about this game. Octavianus's parts involve you searching for clues, dodging guards, solving a few puzzles, and most of all, sneaking around. These stealthy parts are great, and bring out the RPG elements of the game. You will find yourself stealing disguises and peeking around corners, Metal Gear Solid style as Octavianus. Although, because you feel that this is, overall, a fighting game, the stealthy parts become more tedious, and feel less necessary towards the game at times. Fortunately, though, the two character's sections are split up fairly well, and usually Agrippa's parts arrive just when you feel like getting back into the combat sections.

The voice acting for the games many cut scenes are performed very well, and do not sound annoying. The voices are very suited to the character's appearances. During the game, however, your enemies phrases are repeated a few times, but this is just "nit picking" at an overall brilliant sound experience from Shadow of Rome.

You may find yourself wanting to go back to Shadow of Rome, as there are other difficulty levels. Also, you can go back to each gladiator battle, to try and rack up more salvos and gain a better trophy rank. Cheats for the game can be unlocked by doing this. There are also some nice extras thrown onto the main menu.
Overall, Shadow of Rome delivers a new, fresh breath of life into the boring combat systems you find in other 3D fighting games. The stealth sections are also a lot better than most MGS imitations, and even saying that, the best thing about the game is Agrippa's sections. It also has great plot twists. Just don't expect to learn much about the History of Rome from the game.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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