Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance

Set during the Roman Empire in 106 AD, Gladiator follows the swordfighting shenanigans of one Invictus Thrax, an undefeated champion who finally gets sent into the hereafter by the evil despotic Arruntius. The sons of Mars give Thrax an extra lease on life, however, and what follows is a fairly conventional arcade game fueled by melee fights and revenge.

16Gladiator is inspired mostly by Die by the Sword and Prince of Persia, but retains little of the complexity of either. The combat is straightforward, with two melee and grabbing attacks and a dodge key. Although the environments look quite a lot like Prince of Persia, Gladiator has none of the prince’s athletic finesse where you can rebound off walls or perform spectacular vaults over foes. You can combine your swordfighting swings to perform various combos, but none of the them are very spectacular, and indeed most are unnecessary anyway.

There is, fortunately, a good variety of weapons and enemies to cut down. As in Rune, you need to switch between several melee weapon types so as to deal with different kind of enemies. Axes, for instance, are too slow to deal with some of the more faster foes. As you progress, you can attempt various challenges that will upgrade your weapons if successful. These challenges, unsurprisingly, simply involve killing enough enemies in an arena. Although the enemies are somewhat different, the fights are pretty same old throughout, and the main challenge comes from facing multiple adversaries from different directions.

The levels and the few puzzles thrown in there do little to break the monotony. You almost always advance in a straight, boring line through each location, to the point that it might as well have been a 2D game. The puzzles are of the simple switch-flipping variety, and obstacles like jumping platforms offer zero challenge since the jumps are pre-programmed and you can’t fall down. At the end of it, all you have is a combat game with a passable story and some nice cinematics, and an extremely arcade-like combat system that won’t raise any eyebrows.

System Requirements: Pentium III 500 MHz, 128 MB RAM, Win98

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