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Platform

PC

 

Genre

RTS

 

Publisher

Arxel Tribes

 

Developer

Eugene Systems

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2003

 

- Fast, smooth action

- No micromanagement

- B-movie style

 

 

- Lack of game-play variety

- Too familiar level design (the desert level, the ice level, the forest level, etc.)

- Over a little too quickly

 

 

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The Gladiators: Galactic Circus Games

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

Arxel Tribeís The Gladiators: The Galactic Circus Games exhibits a number of admirable traits both in its design and in its execution, and, for a certain audience, it will likely satisfy cravings for an action-packed, real-time strategy game.  Unfortunately, for most everything that Gladiators does well there seems to be one or two noticeable weaknesses.  In the end, most gamers will observe that it is a fairly good game that had the potential to be much better.  

 

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Weíll begin with the good:  Gladiators completely eliminates the ritualistic resource gathering so common in other combat-based RTS games.  The focus of the game is entirely on the combat, which is fast-paced and intuitive.  Players are asked to do little besides direct combat in the gameógather the occasional power-ups or resource chits, spend the chits on new units at spawn points, and Önothing else.  With even the unit acquisition made real-time and on the battlefield, the normal RTS formula is really ramped up to the point that it seems like a game from a totally different genre.  In fact, this element makes the game very open to different tactics.  Instead of having detailed technology trees to work through in order to get more advanced technologies to fight with, Gladiators simply rolls out the new units periodically.  If a player decides to go all out for one unit type at an early spawn point, they can easily adjust their units at the next point if they have made a 

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mistake.  I like this much better than having to choose troops for a level blindly at the beginning as is done in many battlefield RTS games.  

If only the actual combat in Gladiators was deeper and more fun.  Instead, it is very basic and a tad dull, only saved by the sheer pace of the battle and the number of enemies thrown at the player in wave after wave.  Combat is as simple as clicking on the enemy units that the player wants his highlighted units to 

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attack...over and over again.  Players can make use of cover and high ground to increase their odds of winning a battle, but that is about as deep as things get.  Stripping all of the depth and complication out of the surrounding game should have left the developer plenty of time and incentive to design a marvelous combat engine, but this isnít one by any means.

 

I also had a bit of a problem with the number of units available to the main army:  there simply isnít much varietyósome infantry, some heavy weapons, some armour, and thatís about it.  The units differ nicely between armies, but within the armies there were simply too few choices.

 

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Still, there is a lot here that might appeal to certain players.  The absurd story is told with cut-scenes done in the style of a pulp comic and this look carries over somewhat to the in-game art design.  There is a very good feel of participating in epic battles from a fun B-grade movie.  The graphics are bright and colorful and everything moves smoothly.  It is also worth saying that the path-finding for friendly units is flawless, the best I have ever encountered in a game.  There was no point that any of my units didnít follow my intended instructions perfectly.  The programmers deserve a huge thumbs up here, for poor path-finding is rampant in much more high-profile, big budget games.

 

In the end, the important thing is Gladiators is fun.  Itís not deep, nor complex.  Itís not particularly long.  But, the game can be challenging and it moves at a blistering pace from the very beginning.  Hereís hoping it is successful enough to garner a longer, deeper sequel.

 

- Tolen Dante

(March 5, 2003)

 

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