Monday, November 24, 2003

Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance Reviewed

"Set in 106 A.D. after the death of the great emperor Trajan, Vengeance begins under the ruthless leadership of Arruntius; a former despotic consular and the man suspected of bringing the previous ruler to his untimely end. Egomaniacal and convinced that he's a god among mortals, Arruntius has banned the worship of other gods besides himself and is in the midst of destroying Rome so that a new city named after him may be built. As a bit of self-congratulations, Arruntius has staged the world's most elaborate gladiatorial contest amidst the city streets hoping that the bloody spectacle will appease his people and gain him favor among the crowds.

But as stories of this sort usually go, there's one man who defies the emperor with everything in his being. A former slave and faithful servant to the dead emperor Trajan, this man is the gladiator known as Invictus Thrax; an undefeated warrior whose power overcomes every opponent that he confronts. That is, until he's slaughtered in front of thousands of people by the evil demon gods Phobos and Deimos-- halting the hero's plans of revolt and securing Arruntius' place on his throne unopposed.

Strangely enough, Thrax awakens in Elysium only to be greeted by the sons of Mars, Remus and Romulus. Chosen by the pair to become their champion, Thrax is recruited and granted the ability to return to the mortal world to stop Arruntius and the demons that aid him before all of Rome is consumed in their darkness. And from there things really start to get interesting..."

Similarities aside, Sword of Vengeance is neither a remake of the Oscar-winning motion picture or the brainy strategy RPG that we saw in Gladius. In all truthfulness it's an uncomplicated romp through an alternate Roman history that, while a tad on the flawed side, turns out to be just as much fun as it is familiar.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Gladius boasts complex game play although graphics and sound mediocre

"Gladius is a game with mediocre graphics and sound but its addictiveness makes it one of the most serious hour-suckers out there. Loosely based on Ancient Rome's gladiators, Gladius is a turn-based combat game that incorporates many role-playing aspects. Players control a school of gladiators, and are responsible for equipping them and picking their skills and abilities as they advance through levels. The equipment, skills and abilities, are used, of course, in combat against other schools and assorted opponents in the gladiatorial arena."

"While only the fate of the main, player-selected character really matters, as head of a gladiator school, players will actually end up in control of a small army."

"The game's rules are so complex that no amount of explaining here can do them justice. To boil it down: Players have the option of entering their school in various leagues and tournaments, where they fight against other schools or enemies for prizes. Doing well gets characters money to buy better equipment, and it leads to them advancing in levels and gaining new abilities."

"The abilities are legion, as are the various character classes available. Gladiators can be bandits, legionnaires, arcane spellcasters and spear-toting support specialists, to name just a few. Abilities run the gamut from combo attacks to evasion skills to motivational powers."

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Rise and Fall of Rome featured in Civilization III: Conquests

In the new expansion pack for Civilization III, Conquests, the Rise of Rome scenario centers on a conflict between the Carthaginians and Romans but there are some decent opportunities for the Persians or Macedonians to find their own paths to supremacy -- more so if the Romans and Carthaginians hit a stalemate.

The Fall of Rome campaign is a bit different. There are now two halves of the Roman Empire and a large number of barbarians ready to tear through either of them. As a barbarian leader (you can't play as either Roman civ), you'll have to attack Roman cities. Once eight cities from any civ are destroyed, that civ is removed from the game. There was a variant of this kind of play in the previous expansion and it makes for some thrilling moments as one side goes on an all-out attack against a well-defended enemy. Since the cost for the Romans to reach the Barbarian side of the tech tree is outrageously high, each side in this struggle will have to adopt a unique approach to their problems.