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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

Xbox One X
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Game Profile
GENRE: Action
October 28, 2003
 Written by Alex Fitzgerald  on July 15, 2003

First Impressions: Let the copyright lawsuits commence?

A few months back I previewed a Roman gladiator game called Gladius. Today, we will take a look at another game that's set to come out soon that will cover similar ground as Gladius. The game, entitled Gladiator, is being developed and published by Acclaim, the same minds that brought some grade-A titles like Aggressive Inline, and many more stinking titles like BMX XXX. Still though, despite Acclaim's reputation to turn out more crap than a fake doggie-poo factory, this title seems to be on track and ready to be one of the better action-adventure games released this year.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than Acclaim must really adore Ridley Scott, as the game's plot very closely resembles the plot of the 2000 Russell Crowe film. The game takes place in the year 106 A.D Rome. It is during this year that Rome has a great change in its government when the admiral Emperor Trajan dies. Rome hopes that a man as kindhearted as Trajan will take his place, but those hopes are quickly destroyed when Rome meets the new emperor who goes by the name of Arrantius. Arrantius is a despicable human being. He's greedy, selfish, and both of those traits are leading Rome to their downfall. Who will stop this man?

(Drum roll please) You will! You, playing as main character Invictus Thrax, will have to work your way up a gladiator tournament held by Arrantius in order to finally deliver a nation's vengeance and take power away from evil hands.

To complete your mission you will have to become good with the game's gameplay and the controls that go along with it. The first time you embark upon both, you will find that Gladiator is very reminiscent to your modern day beat-em-up. In the vein of games like Final Fight and future titles like Rise To Honor, Gladiator allows you to perform a number of simple moves to bash your enemy's heads in. In order to deliver a truly thorough beating though, you'll have to master using the game's weapons, combo attacks, and magic spells.

The weapons are fairly simple. You just equip them and fight, and the damage you inflict will vary depending on what type of weapon you have. Combos are also like weapons, in that you will need to collect them. Combos and Magic spells will be given to players after they complete a challenge area, and from that point on that combo earned will be accessible to the player wherever he is in the game.

What this boils down to is a very Mark of Kri-like battle engine. After you get your orders from the Gods Remus and Romulus, you will fight progressive battles armed with weapons such as battle-axes, swords, and gauntlets against enemies that can take the shape of giants, skeletons, or many other mythical forms. The battles play out like Mark of Kri in that you will use different weapons for different ranges of attacks.

Also, in a decision that has some people concerned, Acclaim has decided to not give gamers the ability to block their opponent's attacks. The reason this is being done, we're told, is that when the block option is spared the fighting seems more progressive and chaotic. Pfft. I'll believe it when I play it.

Another cool ingredient to be found in Gladiator's gaming mixture, perhaps to make up for the lack of blocking maneuvers, is the kill moves. The kill moves are moves that you can execute during the game with your fighter that leave quite a bit more damage on your foes than normal attacks. This grandeur is shown to you in the complexity of the kill move's animation, which look simply dazzling. If you want them to look cooler though, you have to execute a kill move when multiple enemies surround you. The game, recognizing the situation you are in, will adjust the kill move so that it will reach out to all the of your adversaries as opposed to one, much like in recent games such as X2: Wolverine's Revenge.

To illustrate the story between all of this action-gaming goodness though will be the games cut scenes. So far these scenes look good, as the scenes are well directed and only further complemented by the fact that Gladiator's story is graciously penned by some decent writers, as opposed to most action games where the writing reads like it was penned by the guys who did Dumb and Dumberer.

The game's cinema quality spills over into the graphics area of the game, as Gladiator's graphics are also looking competitive. Make no mistake; Gladiator's graphics are definitely nothing that will leave you awestruck but they get job done. The game's isometric camera is very fitting, and because of the camera's placing the game feels more reminiscent to Devil May Cry than The Bouncer. If the game's early demos are any indication though, the things you will be seeing from this isometric view will likely be bloody, and we're not talking PG-13 a-few-drips-on-your-clothes bloody here, we're talking Sleep Hallow so-much-blood-you-need-a-boat bloody. Still, in a game where the main goal is to maim and decapitate your opponent, it would seem rather silly if the game didn't deliver a Wes Craven amount of bloodshed. The only problem one might have with all the blood is that it might distract you from the game's environments, which really do look nice given its washed-out sun-dried look.

On the audio front, it looks like Acclaim is definitely aiming to please. Within Gladiator, gamer's ears will be treated to fitting music and very above-average voice acting. Hopefully, both of these audio components will be well polished in their implementation when the game comes out.

Final Thoughts
From what's been seen so far, Gladiator is shaping up to be a very enjoyable beat-em-up. The game's combination of isometric camera angling, chaotic yet still strategic combat, and clever light and shadows dictated graphics looks appetizing, and hopefully all of the game's good components will be well intact come November.

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