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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
8.0
Visuals
8.5
Audio
7.5
Gameplay
8.0
Features
8.0
Replay
7.5
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 January 20, 2004

Full Review: ?cuz' swords are cool.


Good turn-based strategy games are usually hard to come by in the console world. Publishers are usually hesitant to put out the titles (since they don't exactly rake in GTA-like sales) so, many potential good turn-based titles die in the development houses in which they are created. Now though, fans of turn-based strategy can rejoice at Lucasarts' new title Gladius.

Though the game comes from the publishing house that George Lucas built, don't expect any wookies or lightsabers in this title. Gladius is set in a fictional world that resembles ancient Rome in many ways. The characters you play as and follow throughout the game are Ursala, a daughter of a famous king from the land of Nordagh, and Valens, the son of a famous gladiator from Imperia. Both characters share the same goals, as both characters seek to prove themselves worthy of their lineage and to bring glory to the lands from which they came from.

Picking which character you wish to play as (Ursala's adventure is easier, while Valens' is harder) the game sets you out on a quest to conquer the gladiator games, a sport that has become popular ever since the end of a great war and the imprisoning of a dark lord years past.

After finishing a couple hours worth of tutorials and lessons you learn all the facets of the game's turn-based gameplay, you begin to travel about the game's world searching for tournaments to prove yourself in. While in many other strategy games this would prove a boring and repetitive task, Gladius' makes it work. The game's battle system is very capable, allowing you to plot your attacks with a degree of forward thinking not seen in other RPGs. If you allow it, you'll become addicted as you think endlessly to figure out how to find the perfect position to get in on the game's map and what attack you're going to use from that point.

The control system that you use to perform all of this is also competent, allowing you to do all of the moves, spells, and whatnot in the game with relative ease. The menu system you need to cycle through in order to find certain attacks is also very user-friendly, and doesn't require you to endlessly scroll like in other strategy RPGs.

Historically, strategy RPGs have never been anything to look at for eye candy, as developers of strategy titles usually compromise graphical prowess in order to deliver a longer, deeper adventure. Of course, since Gladius comes from the minds at LucasArts, it's not much of a surprise that subpar graphics weren't enough for them, as the game sports some of the best visuals ever seen in a strategy title. The characters have quite a bit of detail and they look just as good when moving in smooth animation about the game board. The environments in which you fight in are also very engrossing, with many of the gladiator arenas doing a great job of displaying the world that Gladius obviously wanted to create.

Audio in Gladius is an engaging affair. The sound effects are fittingly gruesome, producing cringes and twitches every time a sword comes down on human flesh. Music in the game is used sparingly, but the arrangements sound very fitting for the game. The voice acting utilized by the main characters is pretty terrible, with each one of the game's respective voices either suffocating the already weak dialogue with a lack of emotion or a bevy of melodrama. Still, in the grand scheme of things the voice acting doesn't play that great of a role, so the fact that Lucasarts skimps out in this area isn't as damaging as it could be.

Bottom Line
Gladius offers an excellent strategy system that makes for an addictive and fun gameplay when met with the large amount of battle types found in the game's tournaments. It's a great title that could fit in the gaming diet of any gamer, especially those that enjoyed Final Fantasy Tactics and want to see the genre faithfully represented on a next generation platform.


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