previews\ Apr 27, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Gladius - PS2 - Preview

The competitors have been drawn from many different realms, each boasting unique abilities and attacks. But the contest has dire outcomes for the loser ­ death. This is an arena that will be ruled not only through the might of its warriors, but through brains and reflexes.

Gladius, a PlayStation2 title from LucasArts, is a strategic turn-based game that has mixed in an evolving storyline with some role-playing elements. Yes, this sounds like a hodgepodge of ideas, but from the PS2 preview (which was quite limited but did provide a nice sense of the game) each aspect comes together to form a solid gaming experience.

GameZone was invited to strap on a buckler, take up the sword and step into the fray. The preview contained only a tutorial and one combat phase.

The first thing that will grab the attention is the stunning, lush three-dimensional graphics. The characters featured in the game move very well, and the combat set-up is almost chess-like in nature.

There was not vocal track on the preview build, and the chat was displayed in text boxes, but it is apparent that each of the characters in this world have unique traits and attitudes, all underscored by the fierce determination to do battle.

Other game features will include: 16 character classes and 45 different locations; the ability to recruit, develop and manage a school of gladiators who will evolve and improve over time; hundreds of weapons, as well as combat magic; and multiplayer support of up to four players in a co-operative head-to-head battle or quick exhibition matches.

The game will also have two storylines with an estimated 36 hours of play in each. Though there are many characters to choose from, the storylines follow the sagas of two young warriors ­ Ursula, the daughter of the great barbarian king from the northern land of Nordagh, and Valens, the son of one of Imperia’s greatest gladiators of all times. Their quests are to rise through the ranks of the gladiatorial combat in the land of Gladius, fulfill their destinies and avert another disastrous war.

The player interface for this game has been kept simple. You select where you wish your character to move (terrain does have bearing on the degree of success you achieve in delivering the blow), cycle through your attack options, and then launch the attack. The actual attack is based on reflexes. You need to nail the sliding cursor in the critical zone to do the most damage.

The game cycles through the different characters with each having the opportunity to move and or launch an attack. If the movement is too far away, it may take several turns before that character can attack.

Think of it as a well animated, evolving and different style of chess.

Granted the preview build was not very large, but the combat is well done and the graphical elements are superb. When everything does get in place, Gladius may be a gem of a turn-based combat game.

This game will be released on the PlayStation2, the GameCube and the Xbox. The scheduled release date is August 2003.

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