Review by Garand

"My Centurion Has a Bigger Spear then Yours!"

As many game adaptations of movies are popping up across the various systems, I sit back and wonder... Who comes up with this stuff! Although Gladius isn't exactly Gladiator with Russel Crowe it sure does try. You take one of two characters both very heroic, both very 'silly' people each with there own lackey who are equally agitating. One is to serious often harassing you for your style of game play, the other acts as a comic relief that just isn't funny. Fair to say that the character development throughout the game is obvious and almost shoved into your face rather then a smooth flow that a game like this should have due to poor characters.

I honestly don't know if Gladius is a strategy game feinting RPG elements or an RPG with jumbled turn based movements. Every character type have their own specialized attacks and defenses, weakness and strengths to other classes and limited usefulness depending upon what point of the game you are in. The game in it's own way forces you to use a good combination of human and beast classes if not for the sake of tournaments but to survive the random battles which can be painstakingly long. On the RPG scale each character has it's own level, stats and exp. amount. You can equip them with armor, weapons and special items like any average Rpg. The world is a series of countries, in each country there are various towns and castles to win Cup and Certificates in to advance to the next country. The process is very simplistic, go to one town, beat the snot out of the local heroes or pass the rituals which just another type of fight. There are various combat types, some resemble capture the flag, some are just hurting your opponents and one includes flogging inanimate objects. Compete and win in enough towns you can head to the main city of the area and win the Championship, rinse, repeat.

The combat itself is very unique, it's a cross of Final Fantasy Tactics (turn based) and Mario Party (Precise Button Play). To successfully complete almost any attack a combination of well timed button hits or just an all out button mashing. Movements were very well done, as you move the enemy moved to their destination given they go farther then they can in their phase. More times then not i had one of my Gladiators running into an enemy. One of the more interesting features of the game is the crowd interaction. Depending on how badly you or your enemies are getting beaten the crowd whips itself into a frenzy, favoring one side or the other. The cheers of the crowd gives your gladiators a much needed boost to their various stats, send the crowd near heart attack cheering, you get many more attacks then your enemies and possibly hit harder and make the bad guys cry.

Graphics are well done, all the buildings and arenas look extremely clean and well done. Each character looks distinctly different, very detailed and historically accurate to my knowledge. All the weapons and shields are authentic to the period and look devastating close up. The sounds are great, from the small chirping of local arena to the deafening cries of the Coliseums or the fella you just drove a trident into. The sparks of the clashing swords, the screams of the crowds and war cries of the barbarians, it's a beautiful thing... To bad the rest of the game doesn't live up.

As a whole Gladius is touch and go, the RPG elements turned me off. The combat setup is what i found to be a major downfall, repetitive and time consuming often just a pain in the backside. The graphics are well done and the sounds contribute to an atmosphere that makes me forget that I’m sitting in a living room instead of a roman coliseum.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 03/23/04

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