Platform: PC, XB, PS2 (Europe Only)

Genre: Action

Publisher: Acclaim

Developer: Acclaim Manchester

ETA: Fall 2003

 

Related Links:

Review: Barbarian (Playstation 2)

Review: Enclave (Xbox)

Review: Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (PC)

 

 

 

 

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Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance

 

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The first time I heard about Romans was in fifth grade, when they were building things like aqueducts, coliseums and ionic columns.  Maybe that's the reason why, to date, the Roman Empire has been portrayed primarily in civic-minded games such as the Age of Empires II expansion pack, Civilization and other titles for the closet megalomaniac.


This is a slight to the militaristic and generally brutal culture of Rome, which by far had the most cool shit of the ancient world: swords, armor, rampant political corruption, funky helmets, tons of enemies, gladiatorial contests, a borrowed Greek pantheon, conspiracies and, I guess, paved roads.


Acclaim Manchester seeks to right these wrongs with its new title Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance, an Action RPG/Hack N' Slash available Fall 2003 on the Xbox and PC in the states and, additionally, on the PS2 in Europe.

 

 

Storyline:
Players inhabit the role of Emperor Trajan's champion gladiator, who is on the road to freedom before Trajan's untimely death. When the crazed Emperor Arruntius rises to power, emptying the state coffers and destroying large parts of Rome to create a battleground for the bloodiest gladiator event ever staged, you must fight to restore the glory of Rome.

Gameplay Overview:
Some reviewers who got a taste of the playability at E3 are comparing the pace of fighting to Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. I'm glad, because when I saw the screenshots, I was reminded of Enclave, which beat my ass so mercilessly that I cried in my bourbon like a child.


Judging by the films, Sword of Vengeance will be a graphically beautiful title -- Acclaim is already touting the effort put behind lighting and production.

 

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Features:
- A variety of objectives, opponents, conventional and mythic weapons
- A mix of combat and adventure/puzzles
- Mythological environments such as labyrinths and temples
- Complex battle events
- Customizable Armor
- Multiple moves and combo-attacks with a simple control scheme
- New moves/combos available as the game progresses
- A "blood meter" that rises with each successful attack and, when full, increases strength to Herculean proportions, allows the character to harness the powers of the elements or raise the dead to fight alongside.
- A broad array of finishing moves that give your opponents particularly gory, slow motion deaths

I am a bit curious to find out why, with so many nasty historical backdrops to choose from, the folks at Acclaim Manchester saw fit to invent a fictional corrupt Roman Emperor.


If you are "a warrior slave, chosen by the Gods to restore the glory of an Empire" in Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance, why not, for example, set the game during the rule of Elagabalus? He would certainly get my vote for Most Likely to Make the Roman Gods Stop Speaking Latin. He married a vestal virgin, named himself high priest of a foreign sun-god, used the entrails of sacrificed young noblemen to divine the future, married a statue, was a transvestite and was ultimately assassinated in 222 CE.


Maybe success in the game restores Trajan to power, which could actually be a cool bit of revisionism. Otherwise it's all fun and games, and one of the first titles in this genre that dips into the wealth of material in the Ancient Roman world.

- M. Enis

 

July 9. 2003