Ever since the Academy Award-winning movie Gladiator came out quite a few years ago, I have really been hoping for a game that accurately captures the essence of ancient Rome, with the gladiators, the Coliseum and all. With that being said, there have been a few attempts, but none of them have really done justice to this time period. Now we get to look at Capcom’s latest action game, Shadow of Rome for the PS2. Read our full review to find out.
Although Shadow of Rome is not one of the more hyped games in the first quarter of 2005, it is one that really has a lot going for it. Shadow of Rome takes you into the roles of two friends, Agrippa a soldier, and Octavianus the nephew of the late Caesar. The whole plot of the game really takes place with the murder of Caesar and these two friends basically trying to get to the bottom of it. If you enjoy Caesar or ancient Roman history, then you are probably going to enjoy the story of Shadow of Rome.
With every game nowadays seem to offer a blend of action and stealth, with limited success, Shadow of Rome’s formula seems a bit odd. To make sense of this and put this into perspective you’re going to love the action sequences of Shadow of Rome and you’re probably not going to be overly fond of the stealth.
Let’s get the bad out of the way. By bad I mean is when you control Octavianus, who likes to sneak his way around environments. But you will find out quite quickly that this guy is the weakest of the weak, one blow to you and you’re a goner. So what this means is that you’re going to be dealing with a whole lot of trial and error in these portions of the game. Once you do start to get the hang of the stealth portions, you’re going to notice that this was not all that greatly crafted. These portions of the game seem to be the most dreadful of them all because you just feel so helpless, and there are some portions that just are downright frustrating for all the wrong reasons.
But then we move onto our good friend Agrippa who as we know is a soldier and let’s just say he doesn’t mind getting his shirt a little dirty. It is when you take control of Agrippa that you really see what Shadow of Rome has to offer and this is where the game in my eyes really does shine quite bright. You get a pretty brief tutorial at the beginning of the game and then you are off to decapitate all the bad guys in the game (literally). This brings me to a side note for all you parents out there, do not let your young ones play this game. This has to be one of the most brutal games I have ever played, you can honestly use enemy’s limbs as weapons, and it’s just extremely brutal and definitely deserved the mature rating.
Although the game did seem to take a lot from the movie Gladiator, the story mode for the most part was extremely entertaining. Like I mentioned earlier I am a huge Gladiator guy, and have been looking for a game to grasp the Gladiators into a video game, and this game does a very good job of it. The story of course could have been more interesting as it does leave some questions and room for a sequel, but for the most part I must say I was pretty impressed as a whole with the story mode.
I think the reason this game was not as good as it could have been is because the developers went for the two styles instead of just sticking with one. We would have been perfectly fine playing the game in 100% action packed sequences throughout and could have easily done away with the stealth as the latter holds the game from achieving greatness.
Capcom in my eyes has always been quite good at making great looking games. It just seems like over the years they have become very skilled at this and I think especially from some of the early videos of Shadow of Rome we really expected a lot out of this game in the visual department. But did it come through?
I think for the most part Shadow of Rome came through and here is why. First off the sheer amount of action that takes place in this game and all of the detail that you get from this action is simply staggering and very nicely done. I say this because there were even parts of this game that were just too gruesome for my own eyes. Also the character models in the game seemed to be extremely well done with plenty of detail and color. The one place that Shadow of Rome didn’t come through in the way that I thought it would was in the environments, which were sadly quite bland.
Overall the graphics of Shadow of Rome do leave some room for improvement but the overall look of the game in my eyes is still quite impressive.
I know I am going to be repeating myself, but there are some really entertaining parts to Shadow of Rome and there are some not so entertaining portions of the game. We all know which is which so I doubt I need to really clarify that for you. With that being said one thing I would like to mention though is that the combat system in the game is extremely well done, and makes for some really eye-wrenching combos that are really easy to perform. I think the ability to really pick up and play this game is one of the more attractive things about Shadow of Rome and they are just a whole lot of fun to pull off.
If you are like me and like the whole Gladiator premise, then you are definitely going to enjoy this game. There are going to be times where you wonder why they put stealth in the game but those always follow up with great action sequences. If Capcom does make a sequel to this game like I hope they do, I really do hope that they stick to just pure action. The game only makes a good purchase if you are a diehard Gladiator fan; otherwise the game is a perfect rental title.
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.