Review by RoninWind

"Defintely not too Shabby (especially as an xbox game)"

First off I'd like to say I'm pretty familiar with the ins and outs of strategy rpg type games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Disaega, Shining Force... things of that nature.
Enter the Gladiator, an interesting setting with lots of tactical brawls and plenty of downright mauling. It's not a bad setting at all for this game.
Graphics-8 Everything looks pretty amazing. Even though some of the backgrounds are plain, they are plain where you'd expect them to be which is fine by me. When you get the close-ups of some characters their super-hero like proportions throw of the reality-like graphics the game seems to strive for. Not too much of a complaint, and you can customize the looks of your gladiators which is a definite plus.
Sound-7 Some hwat repetitive, most things sound similar. It didn't honestly bother me that much in playing as I either wanted my next turn to come up to setup my next move. 0 annoyance factor.
Music-7 Also some what repetitive, but I wasn't really zoned in on that, getting to my next move, or trying to pull off a combo usually distracted me from the somewhat average score.
Controls-9 It's a strategy game, they either are good, or bad... not much for an in between. In this case they're good, and the only thing that you have to practice is your extended movement, and how to work with it properly. And the combos are amazing. Most of the game works on something similiar to a golf meter, or a game like parappa the rappa or ddr. Timing and precision, it keeps you busy and I like it.
Game Play-9.5 I definitely like the gameplay. Some of the battles are incredibly difficult and make you think, and some are just downright unfair until your school grows and has a few gladiators of each type at your current/max level.
I found I maxed out my levels on my primary characters in the first section, but this could just be that I took a while trying to figure out just how gear, affinities, and skills all interlock.
It's really an amazing thing to try and put it all together and have a balance for your team. I'd say after about the first area you clear out you can being to afford to expand your school enough that you can develop teams that can handle the various encounters you come across. The system of light>large>medium>light can be very annoying early on as your characters are limited to mostly medium, and a few lights. The lights you can get are usually pretty weak. The fourth side to this are the support/arcane types that interact neutrally, these saved my neck throughout the first part of the game.
Overall-8.5 I really am enjoying this game, and the areas in comes up lacking I seem to ignore, or they do not bother me as they don't interfere with the integral parts of the game. The early going is rough, but after you get rolling and the hang of it the aspect of thinking and matching your best squad against theirs for the situation is a very nice breath of fresh air in the genre. If this is a foreshadowing of what the strategy and rpg offerings for the xbox could end up offering I don't think we'll be very disappointed when they finally start to roll around.
I'd recommend renting or borrowing it first, but as it doesn't play quickly you'd probably need to buy it or get it on an extended loan from a friend.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/01/04

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