Review by the P

"Gladius, X-Box's Champion?"

Gladius is a strategy, turn-based RPG. If you know what that is, skip down to the rest of the review. For the un-enlightened, an SRPG sticks with the traditional turn based rpg style but it uses a different battle system. Instead of remaining stationary, your team of warriors moves across a grid and engages battle that way.

Graphics 7/10
Easily the weakest part of the game. The character models are slightly blocky and they are not very detailed or articulated. Equipment does appear directly on your character adding some individuality and flair to your characters' look. Overall, the equipment is the best looking and most interesting graphical component. Thankfully, the environments are relatively well designed as well. For the most part the different arenas you fight in are unique and well layed out. Finally, load times are frequent but very short (never more than a few seconds at a time).

Sound 7.5/10
The orchestral score is your standard gladiatorial combat music. Something that this game sorely needed to implement is the custom soundtrack feature. Imagine listening to the Return of the King soundtrack while you battle the undead? The vocal bits are ok, but they can often get repetitive. Also, the dialogue is well thought out and works well to advance the story. Combat noises (clangs, whistles, and cries of agony) are executed nicely as well.

Controls 9/10
No qualms here. The menu systems are clean and neat, allowing easy access to your eventually large assortment of attacks. The standard X-box controller works fine with the game EXCEPT when you need to execute an 8 button combination in rapid succession (explained in the gameplay section). Here the S-Controller's smaller face buttons will serve you well.

Gameplay 9/10
Gladius utilizes a class system (not unlike other SRPGS, like Shining Force and Final Fantasy Tactics). Your class determines what types of equipment you can use and what skills you obtain. There are several classes of what are basically gladiators (divided into Light/Medium/Heavy weight brackets), along with Archers, Spear throwers, and a variety of sorcerers.

Gladius' skill system is well thought out and intuitive. When you level up, your gladiator gains skill points that can be spent immediately or saved to buy more expensive skills. There are several types of skills to choose from. First, there are several types of combo attacks and ''power'' attacks. Next, there are innate abilities that do a variety of things, ranging from status affect immunities, counterattacks, and stat boosts. In addition to standard, weapon based attacks there are affinity attacks. Affinity charges up when you are attacked or you attack someone else, and is used to power affinity based attacks. Affinity attacks range from the elemental variety (fire, water, darkness, etc) to utility abilities (healing, power ups, and teleportation).

Attacks are executed on a meter system. Press the corresponding buttons show on the screen while they are yellow area for a normal attack, red for a critical, or blue for a weak attack. On special techniques, you use a similar meter but you must press the face buttons in a different way. Some require multiple button presses, others rapid presses, several presses in succession, or a single accurate press. In all, combat is well thought out and requires some thinking.

Story 7/10
Its all been done before, but it gets the job done and keeps you interested.

Re/Playability 9/10
There are plenty of different classes to keep the gameplay fresh, its relatively long, and there are two different ways to branch the story.

A definite buy IMHO. If you see it discounted or used, go for it without hesitation. If you've never played a game like this before, at least give it a rent.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/17/04

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