Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance

Format: PS2
Age Restrictions: 15+

Ancient Rome, AD 106. Warrior Slave, and Gladiator champion Thrax must challenge fierce warriors and wayward gods of terror to a fight to the death in order to win his freedom.
The Roman Empire is in terrible decline. After the untimely death of the much-loved Emperor Trajan, the despotic Emperor Arruntius has bled the once powerful Rome to its knees. Arruntius has destroyed large portions of the city of Rome to create the battleground for the bloodiest gladiator event ever staged. This is your chance to win glory for yourself in the arena of Rome...

Ridley Scott's movie Gladiator is obviously the inspiration behind Acclaim's latest offering. Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance takes several elements of the movie - not least being the death of the great Emperor who would have given Thrax his freedom if he hadn't died. His replacement despises Thrax and want's to see him dead - for reasons not made perfectly clear. Also there is, like the movie, a otherworldly scene where our hero is in a cornfield. The graphics in this sequence are truly amazing - with the wind blowing the corn in a realistic fashion.

Ray Harryhausen might be interested to learn that his animated skeletons', from Jason and the Argonauts, live again. While these pixelated versions are not quite as menacing as the originals, they look fairly impressive.

There are many flaws in the game. Firstly the fixed camera angles are annoying and it is sometimes difficult to work out in which direction you are going. While you can't change the angle, you can zoom in and out. The choice of combat moves is limited. It's simply a question of hitting the two combat buttons repeatedly and ducking out of the enemies way - if you feel like it. And occasionally you can, when the enemies health level is low enough, perform a savage death blow - slicing your poor victim up like meat at a butcher's.

As you progress through the levels, you get the choice to change your weapons and fine tune your combat skills.

If you are after blood, guts and beautiful scenery then you'll lap this up. But, if you want a little more from your gameplay you would be best to look elsewhere.

Mindless fun - nothing more, nothing less.

Nick Smithson

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