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February 28, 2004
Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
11/12/2003AcclaimAcclaim1MA15+Easy
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
90KBStereoYesNoSmallNo

Click To Enlarge Image
There's certainly plenty to look at!
In a world where many of the major release videogames involve some sort of killing or fighting, it’s quite surprising that there aren’t more games based around the gladiators of ancient Rome. I mean, it’s got all the elements required for a fairly decent fighting game (Soul Blade: Gladiator Edition, anyone?), yet it’s a relatively untapped game theme. The last gladiator game I played was Gods on the Amiga (rest it’s soul), and that was just over a decade ago. Fast-forward ten years, and hot on the heels of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, two gladiator-based games have just been released for the PS2; Gladius (a turn-based strategy game by Lucasarts), and Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance (Acclaim’s hack-and-slash game you’re reading about now!). Acclaim’s latest effort certainly gives the impression that being a gladiator certainly was a blood sport; and under all the blood and gore lays a fun, beat-em-up game.

Click To Enlarge Image
There's certainly plenty to look at!
In Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance, you are Invictus Thrax, a brave gladiator on his journey of almost certain doom in the legendary Coliseum. The evil emperor Arruntius is running the gladiator games, in a selfish process aimed at making him the centre of attention for years to come. During Invictus’ quest to ultimately dethrone Arruntius, he is defeated and ends up in Elysium where he is met by the ancient gods Romulus and Remus. From here, Invictus journeys through various worlds and realms defeating hordes of enemies, gaining strength and powers along the way to return to Rome and dethrone Arruntius.

Click To Enlarge Image
There's certainly plenty to look at!
The gameplay feels very old-school, at times reminiscent of the old linear beat-em-ups like Golden Axe or Double Dragon. The first hour or so of the game is played out leading up to the Coliseum; run to a small arena; defeat some gladiators; run to the next arena; defeat some gladiators, and so forth. From here on, it continues; fight enemies, run to the next area, flick a switch, fight more enemies etc. The control scheme that Acclaim has implemented is quite intuitive; you focus your fighting on a single enemy, and can switch to an alternate enemy instantaneously with a single button. With two attack buttons, and a dodge button, that’s just about as complex as it gets, which acts both for and against itself (easy to pick up, yet gets boring quite quickly). Varying weapons, magic and challenges attempt to add some variety to the gameplay, but soon end up being just ‘more of the same’.

Click To Enlarge Image
There's certainly plenty to look at!
Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance would be an above-average game, if it weren’t for the overly repetitive levels, and the level of button-bashing required playing the game. I think if I gave my dog the controller and a Shmacko he’d most probably do a decent job defeating many of the enemies; just whack the attack button, and if the enemy starts blocking, whack the other attack button! In its credit though, not dieing enough is better than dieing too often; especially when the save points are spread as far as they are in this game.

One of the first things that hit me about this game is the abundance of blood and giblets that go flying about once you get into the heat of the action. Acclaim possibly took a page out of its Mortal Kombat book when designing this game; when your enemies are all but dead, you can perform a ‘fatality’ on them. Here, you are treated to a cinematic scene of your character popping the enemy’s head off, or cutting them in half, or something along those lines. It’s a bit odd, but breaks up the button-mashing frenzy nicely. The rest of the graphics are clean, but nothing special; characters have average models, but the overall visual package is pleasing.

Click To Enlarge Image
There's certainly plenty to look at!
The sound effects are somewhat lacking the desired bone-crunching and armor-clanking gusto that you would expect, which is slightly disappointing. Ambient effects and music make up for this though, and the game is also fully narrated. The voice acting is done well, but possibly a little too well for Arruntius and Invictus; at times their emotions sound a bit too forced and unnatural.

Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance is a fun, simple beat-em-up, although that possibly is its shortcoming; it’s too simple and repetitive to last more than several days. That said, if you’re after a short, simple game to rent and blast through overnight (and don’t mind the odd splattering of bodies and blood), then this game will fit the bill quite nicely. And in the event that Acclaim makes a sequel (and are listening); please, please, PLEASE include a co-operative multiplayer mode! That would increase the replay value of this game by tenfold, just like the old-school games which this feels like.

Review By: Chris Gobbett

GRAPHICSCharacters aren’t intricate, but looks nice on the whole.
81%
SOUNDNarration is done well, but the effects are lacking.
76%
GAMEPLAYFun to play, but it all comes down to mashing technique.
70%
VALUEIt gets repetitive very quickly, and once through is enough.
68%
OVERALLGladiator: Sword of Vengeance is a fun arcade game with a hint of classics such as Golden Axe and Double Dragon. It will keep you amused for the short term, but the gameplay soon becomes tiresome and it’s doubtful you’d play it through more than once.
71%

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