REVIEW: Gladiator Begins
Ever wonder what it would be like to play as a gladiator in Rome? Not the lame ones that are either scared, depressed, or dead but the one that strives not only for his freedom, but also to be the top dog. You get to be that gladiator in the game Gladiator Begins.
Publisher: Aksys Games (NA), Acquire (Japan)
Platform: Playstation Portable
Gladiator Begins is the sequel to Colosseum: Road to Freedom for the Playstation 2. It's an action arena fighter mixed with a few RPG elements.
I never played Colosseum on the PS2 so I don't know how much of a connection Gladiator Begins makes to it. You name and create your gladiator through a set of menu choices, go through a brief tutorial and go to your first arena match. You meet your owner, Magerius, and as your career as a gladiator progresses you meet some aristocrats and former gladiators. These people could become your potential patrons should you choose them to be. Aside from fighting to earn your freedom, you have to win favors for the aristocrats by winning the in the challenges set in their arenas.
All the narrative is told via digital novel style with animated figures of the characters and text boxes. Though the story is good and somewhat engaging, the presentation can be boring at times, luckily it can all be skipped by pressing the start button.
With many choices of who to side with, the game features multiple endings. Now whether or not it's motivates for multiple playthroughs, it's all up to personal preference.
Gameplay and Features:
Gladiator Begins is an action game so most of what you'll be doing is slaying poor souls in the arena who are stupid enough to face you. You have a slew of weapons to choose from ranging from swords, clubs, spears, hammers, big shields, small shields and even dual wielding of same or different weapons. Each weapon controls differently, experiment to what ever combination tickles your fancy. I prefer a double hammer which gives massive attack power but leaves you open to attacks.
Each of the four face buttons signify the direction of your attack, Triangle aims for a high attack, circle goes for the right, square for the left, and cross for the legs. Aside from those four basic attacks, you can assign different skills to each button. Once you start with a basic attack and quickly follow up with another attack, your gladiator will use a skill attack. Skill attack can also be executed immediately by holding down the L button and then pressing an attack button. Skill attacks use up stamina, if you don't have enough stamina, your gladiator performs a fatigue attack which is a slow (but not weak) downward slash. Your gladiator will rest for a moment which leaves you open for attacks. There are also passive skills which you learn from master gladiators (one on one fights between you and a master gladiator, kinda like a boss fight). With a passive skill equipped you use the basic attacks of those gladiators, granted that you're using their weapon sets. The R button puts you in a defensive stance and you can parry attacks by pressing L while holding R.
In battle, you can strike specific points of your opponent, do enough damage on a part and their armor / weapon can fly off leaving that part exposed. You can pick up dropped items and wear them again but that only applies to helmets and weapons for your left and right hand. Fallen armor pieces can also affect you on the field, if someone is getting attacked and gets pushed back onto an armor piece on the floor, they trip on it and fall further back. This can be both good or bad depending on who's on the receiving end of the attack.
The RPG Part:
Your gladiator levels up in battle. If you level up, your health instantly goes back to full and your stamina maxes out which puts you in a great advantage at times. Outside of the arena, you can change your equipment. Helmets or masks for the head, braces or arm guards for each arm, shin guards for each leg, and weapons or shields for either hand. Each item has 4 values, attack, defense, weight and price. Of course you'd choose the items with the highest stats but you have a limit. You gladiator can only hold up to a certain amount of weight, you can exceed the weight limit and still fight but you'll be extremely slow and stamina drains faster than a fart after a burrito.
Aside from just item stats, you can increase your own by points you earn from battle. You can choose to increase either vitality (HP), endurance (stamina), strength (max weight limit).
There is ad-hoc support for this game which you can choose who you want to use (in game gladiators or you own characters), match type and opponent/s. You can also exchange custom characters with other players. Unfortunately you do not level up in multiplayer, nor do you earn money or items.
Gladiator Begins surprised me in a lot of ways, a lot of good ways. I was expecting this to be a shallow brawler wherein the only amount of customization you have is equipment change. The RPG style character development was a nice surprise. The story is pretty good if you give it a chance. The combat isn't very deep and sometimes imbalanced but that is forgivable since this isn't a big name title. This may not be the best action RPG out there, there is no overworld to explore and the only important character is pretty much you. Still, give this game a chance, it can get frustrating at times since the AI seems too strong and starts dodging almost every attack you throw at em but this game was not at all how I expected it to be. The game may not be perfect but it's worth the jump.
(original Post by Migoy)