Review by pizzacat83

Reviewed: 12/07/03

The Adventures of Rusell Crowe Lite and Girl Man

The most irritating thing to many X-Box fans is the lack of good RPGs. X-Box fans everywhere were anxious about the release of Gladius, since it was another attempt at an X-Box RPG, but many people became annoyed with Lucas Arts delaying the game all the way from mid-August to late-October. Was the 2+ month waiting period worth it? I say it wasn't. I'll explain why.

Story 1/10
You can play as either Valens (Russell Crowe Lite) or Ursula (Girl Man). If you chose Valens as your protagonist, then you're a young man who with his friend Ludo are fighting in gladiatorial games in order to bring fame back to the school of Valens's father, Munio who was a top notch gladiator that was murdered. If you're using Ursula, then you have unknown magical powers that are rare to her barbarian country and she wants to leave the castle with her brother to fight in gladiatorial games. Uninspired at best, contrived at worst are the best definitive words for the plot. Tell me that Valens's story isn't eerily similar to Crowe's in Gladiator.

Graphics 1/10
The character sprites and landscape are ugly. The graphics could've been done on a Playstation and the summoned monsters look like magazine cut-outs because they have a small black outline around them. There is also a size scaling problem with some units. There are several classes of gladiators (I'll get into that later), the main characters being medium. Why is it some light class units are more buff and bigger in every way than most medium class units? About my nicknames for Valens and Ursula, I call Valens Russell Crowe Lite because of his story and he looks like his Gladiator character and Ursula looks more manly than most of the male characters, hence, Girl Man.

Music 2/10
Gladiator and Greco-Roman style tunes. There are some tracks during battles that loop after a minute and this is obnoxious because battles tend to last from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.

Sound Effects 1/10
All types of weapons make the same sound, whether staff or sword and don't get me started on the voices. The voices all sound manly (except for ONE female character) they repeat voice samples repeatedly. One character in particular, Urlan, who is Ursula's Kevin Nash lookalike brother, always scream in a deep voice ''For Nordagh!'' every time he hits. Very annoying. Also, characters that hail from the same region tend to have different accents. Valens sounds English whereas his sidekick Ludo sports a nice Western United States accent. Keep in mind that they're from the same country.

Gameplay 1/10
The battle system is a travesty. There are maps for the battles, but they tend to be poorly designed. Most maps are a flat arena with the miscellaneous obstacle or high ground. Obstructions are way too huge, taking 3 turns to navigate around to get within fighting distance and high ground doesn't occur often enough. High ground give units a strength advantage over lower altitude units, making ranged attackers, such as archers or peltasts overpowering.
There are several classes of units to put in your school: light, medium, heavy, beast, support, and arcane. Beast and arcane units are terrible due to not being able to equip weapons or decent armors and support units (the ranged attackers) are overpowered since they can do hundreds in one attack. Light, medium, and heavy units counter each other paper-rock-scissors style with medium beating light, light beating heavy, and heavy beating medium. This formula would work, if light class units weren't terrible. Light units tend to get killed in one hit and do puny damage unless backstabbing. Heavy units are normally at a disadvantage to light units, but I still kill light units in 1 hit from a heavy. You can easily get moves or items that allow a character to face their foe during every attack, nulling the only good thing about light units. Units are also not evenly spread by type. All the signature characters except for 1 person are all medium class, causing an overabundance of mediums in your school.

Play Time: Too Long
This game is repetitive to the core. This is because the player spends too much time at arenas doing gladiatorial combat since your school needs to accomplish goals in each region such as beating regional tournaments and city tournaments or earning badges by fighting. There are on average 4 cities per region so, imagine earning in each region: 4 badges, 4 tournament trophies, and the high regional championship. I didn't even mention that you need to earn a certain amount of league trophies to qualify for the city tournament. Battles are too numerous in this game.

Difficulty: Child's Play
The enemies don't have the best AI, doing stuff such as moving into an adjacent square to one of your units and not attacking or causing a status effect that a certain character might already suffer from.

Replayability: Some
There are 2 main characters to choose from and there are plenty of side quests, so there is plenty to do if you like this game.

This game could've been the title that many X-Box owners were waiting for, but the execution flaws take away from this game. If you really want an RPG experience, then I'd say rent this game or borrow it first. Do not go on impulse and buy this game based on this or any other review. This game does try something new (saving this game from a 1) so some gamers might find merit in that.

Rating:   1.0 - Terrible

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