Rating: ESRB – 17+ (Mature)
If you are seeking a game with loads of gratuitous violence, then Gladiator – Sword of Vengeance would be a game that fits the bill. There is loads of violence depicted in this game, and blood squirts all over the place in gallons like a modern movie out from Hollywood. In fact, the game is reminiscent of Gladiator and 300.
Gladiator – Sword of Vengeance is quite a fun and exciting experience in the world of PC gaming, that is if you can overlook the bad points of the game. Developed by Acclaim Entertainment Manchester, a division of Acclaim Entertainment, this single player only action fighting game takes place in a fantasy Rome where Trajan, the Emperor of Rome, has been supplanted by an evil man – Arruntius.
As the story begins, it appears Arruntius is holding a celebration in the Streets of Rome. You play the role of the protagonist, Invictus Thrax – Trajan’s personal gladiator champion.
As you begin the lengthy tutorial level, you notice that the event will be a bloody trial for Thrax – just for the entertainment of the new Emperor of Rome.
|The calm before the storm|
Extravagance abounds throughout the impressive gladiatorial sets in the Streets of Rome level, and it is easy to tell that Arruntius is a man who will bring about the downfall of Rome, unless a hero can take the challenge to defeat the debauched pompous old fool.
As Thrax fights his way through the tutorial level of Rome, you will notice that he does not have any health status. So, use this opportunity to familiarize yourself with the key combinations. You may want to know that there is going to be a lot of key pressing in this game, so give your keyboard a break and get your hands on a gamepad of some sort.
|When in Rome…|
Right from the start, you will also notice that the music is very good and really stirs up the feeling of being in a desparate fight for survival. The voice acting is also not too bad – they are well cast and sound quite authentic. And, oh all that cheering from the crowds… it really feels like I am in a gladiatorial arena.
One of the greatest cliffhangers in gaming history ends in the game’s tutorial level. At the Colosseum, after a brutal match that you would be hard pressed to survive, Thrax sees something horrific and everything cuts to black. Shortly thereafter, Thrax regains consciousness to find himself in the fields of Elysium – complete with authentic waving grass.
This is where the game starts proper.
|In the fields of Elysium|
You are introduced to the story’s plot by the two demi-gods, Remus and Romulus – two “kids” who each sport a mime mask – one happy, the other sad.
You become the proxy of the demi-gods and will set off on a great adventure to right a great wrong: Arruntius should not be sitting on the throne of Rome. If he continues to do so, the gods will continue to suffer. They also reveal that Phobos – god of fear, and his twin brother Deimos – god of terror are the ones behind all this mess. You can bet your bottom dollar that you will surely face resistance from them before the end of this game.
|Remus and Romulus – but who’s who?|
From there, Thrax will get to travel to 5 different levels before he returns to Rome to complete what he is destined to do.
The levels are huge and very beautifully designed, and it is a reward in itself just to get a bit further in the game to gawk at the incredible sights found in Gladiator – Sword of Vengeance.
The graphic models are quite detailed – the monsters you get to fight are very well animated. Even Thrax is well done, especially when you find out that he can also activate levers, slide down ropes, and even use keys to unlock doors.
The boss monster fights are very exciting affairs and if you time things correctly you should be able to pull through.
|Let’s start my first challenge|
Every now and then, you will have to complete challenges. For example, the first challenge in the game is to kill three levels of foes in 100 seconds. The challenges are going to be rather taxing to complete using the keyboard alone, so good luck.
Besides this, there are several other negative aspects that I’d like to point out about Gladiator: Sword of Violence.
First, a minor complaint – the game is obviously a console port – for example, if you look carefully at the control scheme, you will notice you need to press the back slash key to activate the menu – isn’t that a strange choice? And instead of the conventional movement keys, you move Thrax by pressing the up arrow, while the left and right arrow keys rotate him. The down arrow key spins Thrax around 180 degrees. You also use the Z, X, C, and V keys to deal different attack moves like in a fighting game, evade enemy attacks and cast magic powers.
|Skeletons in the closet|
The second complaint would be the need to lock on to your enemies to focus Thrax’s attack on a particular target. There are two target locking mechanisms – primary and secondary. Primary lock (activated with the left control key) makes Thrax attack a certain enemy until it is dead, while secondary lock (activated by the left shift key) gives you the option to shift Thrax’s focus to attack another enemy while activated. It gets kind of troublesome to handle this complex control scheme.
The third is really a crime… there is no way you can skip the lengthy cutscenes. And, finally – there’s no way you can adjust the difficulty level. So you have to keep on striving before you clear a difficult section or complete a difficult challenge.
|Disembowelment – definitely not rated PG|
And of course, this game is not for kids. You can get to view really gruesome execution style videos of elite enemies just as you kill them. And, of course red blood goes flying everywhere.
In conclusion, this is a great action fighting game that you can consider playing, especially if your reflexes are good. The story in Gladiator – Sword of Vengeance is quite cool and the game is also quite fun (if you can cope with the difficulty and don’t mind the complaints I explained above).
This is definitely a keeper, but do remember to keep it out of your children’s reach.