Review by miyaa

"Like its saving system, very limited"

Gladius is something of a Yugioh! meets the Roman Empire-ish kind of game where you play either as Valens or Ursala. Valens is your typical rich boy kid of a Roman-ish senator (they never refer to the Roman Empire, but instead they call it ''Imperia'') while Ursala is the Princess of a Norse-like kingdom (Nordagh). Either hero is eventually caught up in a typical evil clan has some dark device that will unleash terrible evil on the world; so we'll have to train in a Gladiator-like competition when all hades breaks loose eventually. The story seems rather cliched and you could sense the incidents coming from a Roman mile away. What's really annoying is often the typed dialogue looks like it was made in an irc chat room except no smileys.

The gameplay is somewhat interesting. Part of the game play is finding the right kinds of people/animals and their respective classes to have on your ''school.'' The only three certainties are the two heroes and Urlens, Ursala's brother. (Why would a Nordic Prince and Princess and essentially an son of an Roman aristocrat fight in a competition that usually involves low-lives, the poor, and the like is beyond me. I question Microsoft's claims of the historical accuracy of the game.) Everything else is up to you. You can purchase players for either a match, or permanently, but this involves money (much like a Major League Baseball team). There are sixteen classes to choose from, each having its own strengths and weaknesses.

As you win matches, you gain experience points. Every so often, your characters level. However, you can only customize your select hero's attributes and skills. You can through purchases different weapons and little trinkets that can help modify how well a player will fight in battle.

As for the turn-based fighting, it's pretty simple. You move your people into position, and then based on what you want them to do and if you have enough move points/affinity points to do so, you can fight or cast magic. How difficult or elegant the ability you want to do is determined by how many affinity or move points you have or have accumulated to be able to pull off the feat. There is a lot of strategy, but never overly complicated.

And even then you're not quite finished. Most moves comes with it a timing bar. Get the timing down just right (hitting the meter at the right spots or the random display of buttons), competitor's hits are considered critical. Miss, then either the hits are normal, or if the timing's really bad, you'll miss them altogether. All this boils the game down to a game of really good timing with the buttons.

I think Gladius could have been really interesting if there was more to do that didn't even tangentially involve fighting across five different countries. The music is top rate technically, but there's not much variety in the music and the overly pompous score gets repetitively old really fast. Graphics wise, it's just mediocre. Everything looks blocky. I can't quite put my finger to it, but there's something about 3-D look of the characters that seems to be un-human. The sets look really pathetic and too similar to each other even through they use different materials. Often times the overhead maps of the arenas you're going to play are too small, which doesn't truly give you the sense of how far apart are you going to be to your opponents.

My biggest complaint about the game is this: there's only three game save slots. Particularly on an x-box where I don't know of anyone who has saved enough games to put a dent in the 50,000+ blocks memory area, this is a disgrace. Most games have probably eight to ten slots, which is still pretty low. But only three? Please. Clearly this is something that the game's creators should have realized, especially for their own game system!

So, overall, Gladius is the kind of game that I would not recommend to either own, or rent. Even through the premise seemed interesting and I think it could have worked out better if there was better variety of things to do, ultimately what fails this game is because of a sound and musical system repeats itself too often, an eye candy that isn't very appealing, but most importantly a game infrastructure flaw that only allows players to save three and only three games. (Apparently, two was too little, and four was right out.)

Reviewer's Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Originally Posted: 01/12/04

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