Gladiator Special part 2: Gladiator: Sword of Vengance for the PS2 review

So, yeah, I am doing a retrospective on games based off the brutal sport of gladiators. The first one, Colosseum: Road to Freedom wasn’t as good as I wished it was. It had clunky combat, no story, and was all-around boring to play after a few hours.  I just wish it was more action-oriented, like Blood Rayne and Devil May Cry, which both came out around this next title’s time. What is this next title in the Gladiator Retrospective going to be? Well, it’s a game by Acclaim Entertainment. Now, I know that Acclaim isn’t really a GOOD company, but let’s see if they have redeemed themselves with Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance. What could possibly go wrong here? An actual story, more action-oriented combat, and a pretty cool-looking cover. I mean, yeah, it’s nothing like today’s games, but hey, I can’t just judge a game by its cover, now can I? So, let’s dive right into the blood pool again and review Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance!

Unlike the last gladiator game I played, this one actually has a story. The story is about an evil new Roman emperor named Arruntius. He decides to hold the most deadly gladiator battles known to Rome. Just like the film, Gladiator, there is one gladiator that doesn’t want to fight for the corrupt ruler. This rebellious Roman Skywalker is known as Invictus Thrax. After going through a couple of groups of soldiers, he tells the evil emperor that he has had enough of this and wants to kill him. Luckily, somehow, the new ruler has Thrax killed by two evil demon gods named Phobos and Deimos. Thrax then wakes up in a place called Elysium. The two sons of Mars, Remus and Romulus, brought him there. He is sent on a quest back to the living world and he has killing the emperor and his two demon gods on his list. This story is nothing special really, and you can basically go through this game like you would Colosseum: Road to Freedom.
The gameplay featured in Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance is a pretty straightforward hack-and-slash action game. The combat is very simplistic, with only two attack buttons, one magic button, and a button to execute brutal death strikes. There is also a lock-on command, which makes combat a lot easier since enemies will surround you A LOT in the game. You can also pull off powerful spells like Hercules, which will give you stronger attacks for a very short amount of time. You can also dodge more easily and even do a kick backflip against an enemy. The level design is VERY and I mean VERY linear. There is basically only one way to the end. This means no alternate areas like in Castlevania 3. Think of the linear level design like the old NES game, Kung Fu. Throughout the level however, there are challenges that if you complete them, you will gain new stat changes, like more strength, more health, and what not. Like I said, the game is very linear so don’t expect much, it’s very simple.
The graphics aren’t that bad even if some areas don’t age well. The lighting is actually quite nice, and I like the look of the game. The levels are definitely a lot more varied than the last gladiator-style game that had bland boring coliseums.  The voice acting is definitely better, but it still sounds like they are trying too hard to be Greek-accented from time to time. I also like how there is a lot of enemy variety with monsters that have different patterns that you must take advantage of if you want to make it out alive. The game’s difficulty is ranged. Sometimes, it’s simple enough to get through, but sometimes it’s REALLY HARD. The music isn’t anything special, but for what’s there, it isn’t bad.
However, just like the last gladiator-themed game, there are A LOT of clunky features that show that Acclaim Entertainment made this. While it is a linear game, it is WAY too linear. I mean, there is nothing you can do. It is like you can’t do anything without the game telling you that you can do it. You can’t even jump unless you are at specific areas. The combat, while better and smoother, still feels clunky and just not polished enough. Enemies are still guard-happy and can even take away a huge chunk of your life. You feel like you’re at a disadvantage the entire time. The main trick you will be doing is going in, and hitting, then rolling backwards, and then repeating the same process. It just becomes tedious once you face the cyclops enemies. I just feel like these guys gave up halfway through making this game, like “ Okay, let’s see here. Linear, clunky and boring combat, no alternate paths, PERFECT!” It is just so boring to play through this game as it gets repetitious to fight a lot of the same enemies over and over again. When I was playing this game, I felt like I was wasting my time with it. I HATE doing that. I mean, when I get a game, I want to enjoy it and feel like I am inside the game. When I played this game, I felt like I could be playing a better game. I don’t see why people can’t make good or decent gladiator-style games. I mean, this came around when Bloodrayne and Devil May Cry were big. At first, it seems like it could be fun, but then they strip you of your cool weapons and then give you bland and boring power-ups and weapons.
I don’t see the big deal with this game. It is boring, clunky, way too linear, and isn’t that fun to play, in my personal opinion. I say, pass this game up and just go pick up a PS3 and get the three God of War games instead of this one. Oh well, hopefully I have sorted through the garbage and can now move on to games like Spartan Total Warrior and Shadow of Rome. Maybe, however, I should take a break and play a different game. If you do ever encounter this game, make sure you have something to light it with. Stay tuned for more gladiator retrospective and other games here on the blog.
This game gets a 4 out of 10