Most of us when we hear the title Gladius we automatically think of Gladiator, the movie that captured the true glory of ancient Rome. Unfortunately this LucasArts title doesn’t have any connection with the movie, but instead goes on its own quest through the ancient gladiators, where you will be fighting your way through an extremely long and deep RPG. This is Gladius for the Xbox, a pretty typical strategy RPG that does some nifty things to make it quite good.
It’s not very often that LucasArts does titles that aren’t made up from franchises of movies or games. Well with Gladius they were trying some new things, some that work and some that didn’t, and in the end you get a title that will definitely appeal to some, but not to all.
Gladius takes place a few decades after the "Great War" that basically almost ended mankind. Now many years later peace is starting to spread over the lands of Gladius and the fighting is now only found in gladiator arenas instead of on battlegrounds. Now gladiators train in local leagues hoping to catch a chance at making it to the high tournaments. There are two different characters you can play through the game, which are Ursula and Valens, whose goals are the same, and that is to create a school worth making it to the highly praised Imperia tournament. The two characters have somewhat different storylines, but for the most part they are around the same ideas.
It’s pretty interesting how the game could have really used the storyline quite a bit, but instead they really didn’t use it a whole lot. Every once in a while you will have a few cut scenes, but those are few and far between. For the most part the game comes down to combat, and this is where things in my opinion have their ups and downs.
From the look of the game you would probably automatically think that this was going to be another hack and slash action adventure title, but instead LucasArts has made this a turn based RPG. For those of you who have read my reviews on turn based RPG’s you know that I am not a huge fan of them. I am not exactly sure what drove LucasArts to make this a turn based RPG, but when I got over that, you will find that the system isn’t all that bad.
Although I am not a huge turn based RPG fan, I did enjoy some of the different variations and ideas that LucasArts did with Gladius. One thing I have always disliked is the trapped or idle feeling you get while in combat, well in Gladius you do have some ability to move around in a certain radius, and this really adds a whole other dimension to the strategy to combat.
Learning the ways of LucasArts combat system in Gladius can be quite a challenge, due to the complexity of the system. Therefore LucasArts provided a pretty in-depth tutorial mode which you are forced to play at the beginning of the game. This really helps give you a good idea of what your in for and how to go about battles. One of the more interesting features placed in Gladius is the swing meter, and although it isn’t all that great, it was a nice idea. Basically the meter shows how much damage you will give out to your opponent. The object of the meter is to hit the critical zone, which will dish out the most damage.
Most of Gladius is pretty solid, but there are a few issues that hold it back from being a truly good RPG. One of the biggest issues of Gladius is the unbalanced nature of the computer. For the most part what I am basically saying is at times the computer can just be down right stupid. Their tactics a lot of the time don’t even make sense and will leave you open for an easy victory. This isn’t something that always happens, but it happens enough to become an annoyance.
At first glance, Gladius is one of those games that just doesn’t look all that impressive. A lot of us get used to the crisp detailed nature that we come to look for in games, and unfortunately Gladius really doesn’t have any of this.
While journeying around the environments of Gladius you will find that there really isn’t anything very nicely done, this is really where most of the problems in the graphics department come from. Everything around the world really looks sloppy and not very well detailed. It really looks underdeveloped and at times looks as though they just whipped it all together as quickly as possible.
Gladius isn’t all bad, you can really see some great looking cut scenes in the game. Although there are not many of them, the ones that are in the game really look quite good. They are heavily detailed and really are top notch cut scenes that help the story nicely. Overall the graphics have their ups and downs, there is some good animation during the combat of the game. What really hurts the game is the character models, that look really poor, and ends up giving the game a pretty feel.
In this section of the review, it really comes down to personal tastes, and I personally had some fun to start off with, but the game just seemed very repetitive after a while starts to get boring. For some people though I can see why they would really enjoy the game, it does a very nice job of making a nice turn based combat system, so any of those RPG enthusiasts will probably enjoy some of the new things thrown out in the system. If turn based combat is your thing you will definitely have a lot of fun with this one.
After quite a bit of Gladius it was really hard to figure out what I truly felt about the game. I would have rather had it not been a turn based RPG, but for what it was, it did quite a nice job. There were some minor slip-ups, but overall the game will be very popular with the turn based RPG enthusiasts.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.