Review by Talhavin
"How famous are your gladiators?"
Gladius is a Strategy Role-Playing Game (SRPG)where you train a school of gladiators who fight, not for their freedom, but for your school’s fame. Your ultimate purpose is to have a great school that trains the best gladiators out there.
Gladius’s gameplay is overall very good, and would definitely deserve a perfect mark if it wasn’t for the navigation. Once you enter a town, you have different areas you can go to with a menu. I find it sometimes very irritating to navigate from the battles, to your school’s gladiators. The controls, though, fit perfectly with the xbox controller. The battles are quite similar to any SRPG with a few changes. Most of the skills you use with any gladiator have the possibility of using meters. For a normal strike, the meter is basically a long orange bar with a tiny red bar and a blue one near the end. Ideally, you’d hit in the red section for critical damage. There are many different types of meter, like the “throw javelin” where you have to press a series of buttons for critical damage within the amount of time. I found the meters very ingenious and fun. If you really can’t stand them, there is an option in the option menu where you can hide them. There are many different types of battles to do. My favorite is probably King of the Hill where you have to stay on top of a pile of rocks/crates for the longest time while your enemies strike you without mercy. I also enjoyed Rival Nations where your purpose is to destroy your enemy’s monument before they destroy yours. Your gladiators can gain 30 levels, which leads me to my last gameplay dislike. At each of your school’s ratings (Amateur, Semi-Pro and Pro), you have a maximum level. I suppose it was intended to stop people from over-leveling at the beginning but I really didn’t like the idea since you can’t fight all the battles in the first rating without wasting precious experience. So you have to fight the minimum of battles and come back later when you have a higher rating. The gameplay still deserves a good rating.
The graphics of this game are amazing. You can customize you character’s clothes and they will appear in the scenes where you don’t control any characters. I enjoyed the painting style of some movie scenes. The characters have very realistic faces, except for a few unique gladiator’s eyes which are sometimes not as smooth as the game’s overall graphics. The game would deserve a 10 if it weren’t for the loading screen. Sure they aren’t very long, but there are so many! At least there aren’t any in the battles. Don’t take me wrong, they aren’t that annoying but they do get slightly irritating after some time.
I really liked the stories in Gladius. You have the choice between two heroes.The first hero is Valens, a man from Imperia who’s father was a famous gladiator. The story begins as Valens tries to find out the reason of his father’s murder. Your second choice, which I preferred, is Ursula, a child from the barbarian tribes of Nordagh. Witches predicted her birth and claimed the child, therefore Ursula’s family fled in the forest and escaped from the witches. Ursula battles alongside her older brother, Urlan.
The replayability of the game is quite good. If you like the game with one hero, you’ll probably enjoy going through it a second time with the second hero. You can also simply replay the game since it’s quite long and there are many different type of battles to do, so you won’t get tired of fighting!
Rent or Buy?
I suggest renting it before buying it. It’s a great SRPG but it’s quite unique and you can’t really be sure you’ll like it before actually playing it.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/25/03
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