Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Hidden Gems Volume 2

Hi everybody, it's Tuesday again so that means it's time for another Hidden Gem!

Last year, LucasArts released a game that was played and adored by thousands of people. That game was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. However, in the same year they also released another RPG by the name of Gladius, and this time I'm here to talk about that.

If you are a fan of the film Gladiator, Tactical RPG's or indeed both, then you absolutely, positively have to check out Gladius. At the start of the game you choose one of two heroes - either Valen's from the Imperia region, or Ursula from the Nordagh region. You begin the game in training to open your own gladiatorial school, either to maintain the respect of your family name or to build it, respectively. During the course of the game, dark tidings are afoot and your skills will be called upon to put down a malevolent dark god once and for all.

Gameplay is rather similar to other games in the genre (such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Arc the Lad, Disgaea or many others). You take turns between your group of gladiators and the enemies, and move around on a grid system. The distance you can travel depends on the movement statistic of your character, which is naturally higher for certain classes, and also increases as your character levels up. You can use a wide variety of weapons, magic spells and other abilities to crush your foe, as well as taking advantage of terrain that is above the enemy, or position (by stabbing the enemy is the back or side for example). The game can be quite challenging because quite often you will be outnumbered and you will therefore have to use tactics to win the day rather than brute force.

The game has a fantastic musical score, and the graphics, while not the best I've ever seen, do a good job of setting the scene and keeping you immersed in the fantasy world which is heavily inspired by ancient Rome. Replay value is high, because the challenges and route you take through the game depends on the character types you choose to employ and train up. Plus of course there are two main characters to choose from at the beginning of the game. Ursula's story is supposedly for beginners, although having played a little of both they don't seem to differ much as far as difficulty is concerned.

Gladius is available on all three of the major consoles, and can be found at a very reasonable price if you look in the right place. For around £10 - £15, you can have yourself a game that will keep you entertained for at least 30-40 hours (even more if you replay as the other character or are determined to finish every last challenge in the game).

Note: Do not confuse this game with Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance, they are quite different games (this is an RPG, and that is an action hack 'n' slash game).

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