Surprisingly, Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance has a plot revolving around a super tough warrior slave, his aim? - To destroy and execute as many people as possible. The reason for this is because he has been chosen by the gods to restore the glory of the empire. If ever a game stood on top of a mountain and screamed ‘I will to be the very definition of average’ this is it. So let us begin the investigation into how to create a perfectly middling title.
It all starts very nicely, with our hero going through a number of arenas chopping people up while the on-looking crowd cheers. Kill people move on, kill more people move on again, until finally you reach your goal and are taken off into a mystic field filled with long grass and ambient music. This area acts as a central hub from which to access the different lands.
Once you have picked your destination it’s off to wade through wave after wave of identikit skeletons and other such clichéd Jason and the arganaughts rip off’s. These come bounding towards you with their average animations and average attack repertoire. Our hero fights back with his own distinctly average set of moves. Pressing a combination of square and X produces slightly different combo variations but nothing to set the world alight. After the first few groups of enemies are defeated it all descends into a huge mass of button bashing intertwined with the odd push of the roll button and underpinned by a creeping sense of complete and utter boredom.
As if the responsive yet averagely realised control system was not enough to send the title down into the realms mediocrity, the camera pops up to make sure it cannot climb out of the hole it finds itself falling down at and ever increasing speed. Truly this game has the most pointless camera we have come across in a long while. Most of the time everything is static, like in Devil May Cry, this would not be a problem if you could actually see where you needed to go. Instead the camera seems to be placed at the most awkward angles possible, sometimes even obscuring your character. Just to make it seem that little bit more pointless you can zoom the camera in and out with the right analogue stick. However, zooming in and out consists of simply moving the camera closer to your character, what is the point in that? If you cannot see from having the camera placed far out, then zooming right in only serves to show your characters boots in a nice close up is totally and utterly pointless.
Admittedly, attempts have been made to try and add some sort of invention. There are a few different weapons to choose from, each of which requires you to go about mashing buttons in a slightly different way and when using your sword, altering your attack pattern causes a combo meter to rise giving different effects depending how high you can get it. There is also a small amount of character levelling on offer. This occurs by finding challenges hidden amidst the average scenery. Upon discovering a challenge you are taken to an enclosed area where you must undertake an uninspired task, normally consisting of breaking barrels or killing a certain amount of people in a time limit. Although, your undertakings are so dull you do begin to wonder if you can get through he whole game without levelling up.
The barrel breaking challenges are the biggest culprits as your character locks onto enemies meaning that if you are trying to hit an inanimate object, like said barrel, it can be near impossible to land a strike. The final trick the game pulls out is its array of fatalities. Any enemy who has a black energy bar can be finished off with a Mortal Kombat style finisher. The problem is that the variety of finishing moves for each enemy are limited, meaning you end up watching the same animation over and over, a nice idea but again one that is averagely realised.
On the whole the title is far from being terrible and in quick bursts of play can be fun. But there is nothing here to justify its existence really and you will find that after a few hours things begin to get very boring. The game has no major fault, it looks ok, it has some nice effects, the title is playable but it is all so dreadfully uninspired. Titles like this are the reason people get tired of gaming, overall it is merely a lacklustre hack and slash title. It makes us wonder who was more bored, us while playing it or the developers while creating it.