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Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance PlayStation 2

Published by Acclaim
Developed by Acclaim Studios Manchester
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

The Roman flavoured game has proved quite popular over the last eighteen months or so. Titles such as Praetorians, Pax Romana and Gladius have all given us that ancient Rome experience. Whilst these have all been strategy games though the latest Roman flavoured game is definitely an action game that is heavy on the combat with a few puzzles thrown in for good measure. Let's take a look at Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance.

The story for Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance is of course a fantasy one with a good dose of mythology thrown in for good measure. The game begins in 160 AD with the Roman Empire in dramatic decline. Emperor Trajan has passed away and has been replaced by the maniacal, tyrannical Arruntius. Arruntius is determined to dismantle the old order and create a new seat of power for himself in the newly created Arruntium. You play as Invictus Thrax, the champion gladiator of the late Trajan. The game begins with a crazy gladiatorial event, the sole purpose being the destruction of Invictus Thrax and whilst the opening sequence of the game certainly looks like Thrax is finished, it's far from over and with a little help from Romulus and Remus, he has to set about removing Arruntius.

Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance is virtually a non-stop hack 'n' slash experience from beginning to end with the odd simple puzzles and challenges thrown in for good measure. Thrax has a variety of combo moves to help him in his quest of destroying Arruntius but he'll need to become more powerful in order to succeed. Throughout the game you'll come across various challenges of the, kill a certain amount of enemies within a certain time limit nature, and successfully completing these will earn you a variety of upgrades such as combo moves, various items and increased health etc. Thrax is going to need all of these though because as the game progresses he'll be confronted by all kinds of mythological enemies and they arrive in increasingly larger numbers. Of course with the game being rather heavy on the combat it can easily become repetitive and at times that certainly occurs but thanks to the new combos and power ups, such as the ability to use the power of Hercules for instance, helps to prevent it from ever getting boring.

Visually Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance is surprisingly good. The backgrounds have a kind of softened look about them that is both easy on the eyes and blends in well with the mythical nature of the game. It wouldn't be right to say that the graphics are technically brilliant (although the long grass looks fantastic) but they have bags of style and it makes a very welcome change from the rather humdrum graphics that we see so often. The frame rate, whilst mostly smooth, can take the odd dip but this doesn't get in the way of the game play at all. If there is one complaint to make though it's that the camera isn't always as good as it could be. Control of the camera, as per usual, is carried out with the right analogue stick but there are times where camera navigation is restricted and you're left with a rather awkward view. Thankfully it doesn't occur too often.

Sadly whilst Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance is a solid action game it isn't very deaf gamer friendly. There are no subtitles in the game and as a result the game does suffer and you'll feel as though you're unaware of the twists and turns of the games story. The cutscenes are rendered useless as they are not subtitled, which is a shame as the story is told through them. It's not all doom and gloom though because the tutorial tips are shown in text and the background information you are given on the games characters/enemies, whilst you're on a loading screen, is also shown in text. The games numerous challenges are also delivered via text so you'll fully understand what needs to be done. Still you do feel short changed when you can't appreciate the story.

Had Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance been subtitled it would have definitely been a recommended action game. However with the lack of subtitles, which of course means you can't follow the story, it can't be recommended. If you don't mind being completely unaware of the games story then there certainly is a solid game here that's rather enjoyable. If you're looking for a mythologically, Roman flavoured action game then Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance could be the game you've been looking for.

Overall Game Rating: 6.2/10
Enjoyable, Roman flavoured, hack 'n' slash action that's spoilt somewhat by the lack of subtitles.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No subtitles so you're not going to be able to follow the story.