Review by BBallman7

"Sleeper hit of the year..."

This is probably my personal choice for sleeper hit of the year. Not because no one's heard of this game, but it just didn't get enough hype. It's not a perfect game, it has some serious flaws in the stealth department of the game, but the gladiator parts are quite an amazing experience. They make you feel like you are in a colosseum in front of a bloody thirsty crowd. This game is definitely on the gory side, but if that kind of thing doesn't bother you, then you will probably find it quite amusing.

You play as two different people, a Roman general named Agrippa, and through a strange circle of events becomes a gladiator, and a teenager who looks a lot like Raiden from MGS2. You play as Agrippa for a majority of the game, and you'll be thankful for that, because those are the best parts of this game. The gladiator events take a lot of details from the movie "The Gladiator" with Russell Crowe, which in my opinion is a good thing, since I personally enjoyed that movie. Like in the Gladiator, you'll not only fight other gladiators, but also tigers, and you'll even have chariot races. But it doesn't copy the Gladiator completely, since the story is a lot different, and you also have a lot more battles than the movie. So you get to fight a decent amount of bosses, and also an elephant.

But the great part is the combat. There is a great variety of weapons, including simple things like swords, and bow and arrows. But you also have extremely large and strong two handed weapons. And my personal favorite, the morning star, which is like a ball and chain, except the ball has spikes on it. That's not all though, you can even use severed arms as weapons. Although it becomes a hack and slash in some ways, there's also a lot of blocking to mix things up, and weapons break, so you can't just go crazy with them.

But you also play as Octavionas, who's missions take on a more stealthy approach. This is good in some ways, since it breaks up the action very well, so it never gets too repetitive. But the A.I. is so horrible. Its one of those things where if you get spotted you can just run around the corner and they'll stop looking for you and just completely forget you're there. Or if they find one of their friends dead, they'll act like they're about to look for you, but give up after a second or two and go back to what they were doing before. So instead of taking advantage of what could have paced the game very well, these missions just make you realize how fun the gladitorial missions really are.

The graphics and sound were both a little above average. Nothing special, but not bad. There were some FMV's that looked good, but nothing you haven't seen in any other decent looking game out there. But there is definitely games that did music and graphics worse, so I'm not really complaining.

The story is really well done though. At first, it seemed like something just thrown together, but there's quite a few plot twists thrown in there, and you never really know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, so I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the story.

So overall, this is definitely a good game that got overlooked. But I think if the developers took some more time, specifically on the A.I. in the stealth missions, then this game could have been a classic. But it looks like it'll have to settle for a good game that flew under the radar.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 10/24/05

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