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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
LucasArts
DEVELOPER:
LucasArts
GENRE: RPG
PLAYERS:   1-4
RELEASE DATE:
October 28, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
Gladius

Gladius

 Written by Alex Fitzgerald  on April 15, 2003

First Impressions: Something's wrong with this Lucasarts game. I can't seem to find the words ?star? or ?wars? anywhere on the box.


Violence has always captured the fascination of humans. Why? Because deep within us, beyond all our passive attitudes, political correctness, and rigid submissive mannerisms their lies one simple truth: we are animals. Inside we know that we are nothing more than barbarians, that only through a rigid system of rules, regulations, checks, and balances have we been tamed into the "civilized" people we are these days. But every time some asshole in front of us on the road cuts us off, or some jerkoff at McDonald's decides he's going to pay for his 50? apple pie with a check we learn one thing - our tame nature is about as deep as Shaq's rap lyrics.

It's because of this inner awareness for our true barbarian that mankind has always shown such great interest in the gladiator games that took place during the end of the Roman civilization. The gladiator games we're as barbaric as a sport could get as every disgusting and vile act ever committed by man was done at some point in a gladiatorial arena. Christians were fed to lions, slaves and prisoners who were grossly under armed were sent to die fighting against more heavily armed opponents, and while all this senseless killing happened Roman fans cheered in the crowd. Wow, and to think angry mothers think our generation is desensitized.

Nevertheless, anyone who has shown interest in gladiator games should be glad to know that Lucasarts, the famed developers behind many great (and not so great) Star Wars games, and numerous other original quality titles such as Grim Fandango, and The Monkey Island series, are making a new game called Gladius using gladiator settings.

Anyone hoping for a gladiatorial action-RPG will be sorely disappointed though, as Gladius is more of a turn-based RPG fueled more by storyline than anything else.

Playing Gladius you will take control of the character Ursala. Ursala is the daughter of a great barbarian king who hails from a northern land known as Nordagh. If you don't want to play as Ursala though you can also play as the character Valens, who is another child of a famous person, only unlike Ursala he is the son of a famous gladiator...not a barbarian, and his father comes from Imperia instead of Nordagh.

No matter what character you pick though you will eventually run into some of the history that surrounds both of the characters. You see, years ago the two lands of Nordagh and Imperia got into a bitter war that nearly wiped out the entire human race. Afterwards, the two sides went into an uneasy peace that kept the two sides from attacking each other...for a while. Now it looks as if another war is going to break out which will likely be just as devastating as the first war. In order to prevent this from happening, Ursala and Valens have to both make gladiator schools to stop the two sides from fighting each other (yeah, I don't get it either.)

Though Gladius has only been seen in severely early builds so far it's already clear what kind of direction the game's battle system will take. Resembling games like Final Fantasy Tactics, the battle system has you fighting on a grid that will let you pick between fighting and moving every time you get a turn. More variables complicate this system though allowing for a higher degree of strategy to take place. Things like how far away you are from an opponent, what direction they're facing, or if they are below or above you will alter how devastating your attacks are as well.

Taking advantage of these battle system delicacies though will require rigorous thinking ahead. For example, in order to attack an enemy from behind you will have to surround him with at least two enemies, so he will be occupied with one head on while another soldier can attack him from behind.

The game will not be fast-paced as moving long distances will require that you take more than one turn. This will allow for a good deal of strategy though, as this making it so that you can only move limited distances means you will likely have to plan your attack strategies ahead of time.

To break up the standard make-a-command-and-watch-it-happen gameplay Gladius will allow you to do special moves that require more twitch gaming skills than strategic gaming skills. The way Gladius does this is by making you work with something called a precision meter in order to dish out special moves. The precision meter will have you matching button presses with commands onscreen, much like Shenmue's QTE battles, Dragon's Lair, or any other rhythm that has a simple interface. By using the precision meters you will be able to totally layeth the smacketh on your enemies, so learning to use precision meters will likely be a must-use for winning.

As you can see from what's been seen of the battle system it looks like fighting will be a very deep process within Gladius. Other things in the game will have depth though as it looks like Lucasarts is aiming to make a very deep and nourishing gaming experience. Within the game, players will be able to choose to play through either Ursala's or Valen's story (each one taking about 30 hours to complete), pick up as many as 100 weapons (which will all come with a story and historical background information attached to them), and finally you can also collect up to 100 different character types to enlist in your battle school.

Gladius won't be restricted to just one player either, as Lucasarts plans to include four player co-op features in the game. The way this will work is by giving everybody a character to control, so you can strategize with each other in order to bring the enemies to its knees. Little else is known about the co-op modes though thus far, so we'll have to wait for more information before we know how much promise the co-op modes really show.

From what's been seen so far it's a safe bet to say that Gladius's visuals will be decent but nothing awe inspiring. Although Lucasarts has promised detailed character models and detail-loaded worlds in the very small demos that have been seen so far those promised visuals have not been delivered. Instead, we have a top-down perspective that hides most of the character models, making it hard to discern whether they really are detailed or not.

When it comes to audio it looks like Gladius will be sparing no expense...for the voice acting anyway. The developers have hired professional voice work to make the game's voice acting sound convincing as possible. Playing the role of Ursala will be Linda Cardellini (better known as Velma from that god-awful Scooby Doo movie) and Michael Rosenbaum from the teenybopper show Smallville on WB. Little is known about the rest of the audio at this point but if as much time and effort goes into it as the voice work rest assured Gladius will be pleasing to the ears when it comes out.

Final Thoughts
At this time Gladius is set to come out in October. Until then, let's all cross our fingers in hopes that this unique turn-based RPG will live up to the potential it's showing off already in its early builds.


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