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Gamecube Reviews: Gladius


Gladius Screenshots

The Final Say!

Gladius - reviewed by Andrew B
Review Date: 7 October 2003
Review Score: 8.9/10 
Distributor: Electronic Arts

Gladius is the latest turn-based gladiatorial epic from Lucasarts with an enriching tale of good versus evil. Gamers have the choice of playing either of two characters that include the beautiful lithe-like daughter of a barbarian king called Ursula or the powerful yet noble Valens, the son of Rome's most feared gladiator. In its purest form, Gladius is tactical RPG that lets players step into the shoes of their characters and change a variety of attributes to their liking. Apart from the plethora of skills and weaponry in the game, players must also recruit and train warriors to prepare themselves for the final battle of the game. The clever thing about Gladius is that if you fail to recruit a warrior, they may plague you later in the game and teach you a lesson for your ignorance.

Although the storyline doesn't depend too highly on which character you have chosen as it is fairly linear, both characters have taken up arms to protect the world from a Dark God who is about to unleash his fury upon Earth. The first half of the game is set in the deadly Roman arenas that have you engaging other gladiators in deadly battle. Fortunately, the game locations are varied and detailed that ensure gamers won't get bored too easily. The combat of Gladius is turned based and before you stop reading this review, I must admit that this was a clever turn of events as not only does it make the game more interesting but it allows you to engage in a variety of different combat techniques that would be impossible in a standard hack and slash game.

Gladius also mixes in some real-time commands that help spruce up the battles as some moves need precise timing to pull them off, especially the special moves of your characters. The world of Gladius is also filled with both magical and non-magical combat that allows both you and the enemy to cast some devesting spells on the battlefield. Although you control a variety of characters throughout the game, the main two characters really come into their own as the game progresses. Not only does their proficiency increase but you also have the ability to use special attacks that maim and slay anything in your way.

Gladius is not all about battles as Ursula and Valens must wander throughout the lands, such as the Roman province of Imperia, the sparse and nomadic Windward Steppes to the homeland of Ursula, the green forests of Nordagh. By visiting towns and encountering characters, you can purchase additional supples and also embark of valuable quests that help move the story along nicely. With over 100 different types of warriors and over 2,000 different types of weaponry, Gladius is anything from amateurish.

Graphically, Gladius looks like a treat on the GameCube and features colourful graphics, amazing attention to detail and some beautiful character models that comes together perfectly with the games storyline. The characters themselves look a little cartoonish but it does suit the game and they move with humanistic-like movements for that extra realism, especially in battles. Those that are a little bit squeamish should look elsewhere because the battle scenes in Gladius are quite violent and blood is literally splattered everywhere when you engage in combat. On a final note, the gaming world of Gladius looks quite simply beautiful that helps draw you into this mythical world.

The musical score of Gladius sounds like something straight out of a Hollywood Roman blockbuster and suits the game perfectly. The in-game sounds are great, especially the sounds of the gladiatorial games with the crowd screaming and the sounds of steel on steel. Lucasarts also managed to snag actors Linda Cardellini (Scooby Doo, Legally Blonde & the Promised Land and Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville, The Zeta Project and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker) who lend their voices to the main characters in the game. Apart from the two professional actors, the rest of the character acting in the game is perfect and each voice lends itself to the characters very well.

In conclusion, Gladius is the perfect turn-based RPG game that lovers of the Final Fantasy series will love. With a brilliant in-game graphics engine that contains some amazing graphics, gameplay and sound, Gladius is the perfect game to keep you busy for a few weeks or more. Highly Recommended!

- Andrew B

Also available on PS2 & XBox

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