STAFF REVIEW of Gladius (Xbox)


Monday, December 15, 2003.
by thrAsher

Gladius Box art In a time long passed, a war was waged that so traumatized the land that in the wake of the destruction, society decided that in remembrance of the slaughter and bloodshed......THEY'D HAVE GLADITORIAL GAMES!!!! And as such, you must decide: "Will I be Valens of Imperia, or Ursula the Barbarian?" Whomever you choose, an epic tale awaits you, full of strange creatures, terrible foes, and perhaps even glory....


Tantamount to a chess game, Gladius is a turn-based strategy RPG. As such, it requires much more thought than twitch, which provides for an interesting diversion from the usual controller mangling FPSes and action games in your collection. Gladius' controls are intuitive and responsive, and the menus are easy to navigate, although somewhat cumbersome. Instead of a static combat system, you get one of a variety of meters depending on the attack. The hit/critical/miss areas of the meter make for a more interactive experience, and if you simply suck w/ the meters, you can turn them off (although you will get fewer criticals).The magic system - magic being referred to as Affinity - is a little strange at first, but once you get the hang of it, you'll discover it is central to developing a balanced, efficient school of gladiators. This is, of course, the mainstay of the game. Your school is built - for the most part - by you. Want to have a school of thieves and wolves? Go for it. But be warned, the various leagues and tournaments in the various lands require a well balanced school. With hundreds of weapons, armors, accessories, shields, special attacks, Gladius offers one of the more complex RPG systems on the X. You can easily get 80 hours out of this game, and if you decide to play both stories through, you're looking at an easy 150 hours. And if tournament fighting (which is just about all the combat you will be in consists of) sounds boring to you, rest assured that there is PLENTY of diversity in both rules, requirements, and enemies. Still, at times, the game does suffer from bouts of monotony, but usually by the time you start getting bored with it, you'll be whisked off to a new land and a fresh batch of obstacles and environments.


Nothing out of this world. All the character models are detailed and animated well. Colors run the gamut depending on the locale. Crowd animations are laughable, but you will hardly even notice them. Not a whole lot in the FX dept. when it comes to special attacks or magic, which is a slight let down. Also, your gladiators will not change that much as you gain better equipment. Weapons all look different, as well as shields and helmets, but your armor always, always looks the same. You can customize your school's colors, too. From individual skin color and armor/cloth colors and hair, you can create characters that look just how you want them. While graphics are not Gladius' strongpoint, they are neither a great weakness. It's really about the gameplay.


Nothing stellar here, either. Weapons sound decent, the crowd cheers and boos dependent on how you perform in the arena (might as well be canned laughter, no real emotion), characters cry out in battle, music swells and changes to fit the action...altogether adequate, really. The sound never gets on your nerves or anything, but it doesn't get you on your feet in celebration, either.


Suggestions:
Give us more than three save game slots!!! I mean, really... Also, spruce up everything, gimme more options to fight and explore outside the arena, throw in sytem link and live multiplayer capabilities, and get to making a sequel. You've got the formula down, now it just needs a little tweaking and you'll have a classic on your hands.


Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10

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