STRAP ON YOUR SANDALS AND GET READY TO FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE AND VICTORY IN I, GLADIATOR
Genre: Action / Hack & Slash / Swipe Combat
Developer: Steel Monkeys
Modes: Single Player Only
In-App Purchases: In-Game Currency (Denarius & Gold), Character Upgrade (Skill Points)
I, Gladiator - by Steel Monkeys
I, Gladiator, set in ancient Roman times is an action hack and slash style game. Fans of arena and swipe combat games should definitely consider adding I, Gladiator to their collection. Playing as the fallen gladiator Rufus - known for your prowess in the arena even amongst the gods - you have been resurrected by the god Mercury to fight in the arena once again, this time as the god of commerce and thieves' champion.
The awesome visuals reminiscent of Frank Miller's 300 comics look great as motion graphics, from 2-D cutscenes which are professionally voiced in Latin - the language of the time and adding to the immersive experience of playing I, Gladiator - to the combat visuals, Steel Monkeys has managed to make these comic style graphics come alive in your hands.
The sounds of combat in I, Gladiator reach out to draw you into the fight with the clash of weapons and groans of your enemies as you furiously rain blows on them. The fast paced music, suit the frantic slashing and blocking and adds to the experience.
You'll play through the single player campaign mode, in arena fights against multiple computer controlled opponents. True to classic gladiator and arena style, opponents sometimes square off with each other and engage in duels and at other times team up against you. The rules for winning vary occasionally, though the base goal of killing everyone in sight stays the same, you'll occasionally have an additional requirement of doing it within a certain amount of time. Successfully completing a level gives you denarius and on occasion a little gold as well.
Winning isn't just about killing your opponents though and you'll also have to embrace a gladiator's principle role as an entertainer. Running away or using the same moves too often will make the spectators unhappy, and since wimps don't need XP, they'll take some away from you. Performing spectacular combos that dismember or decapitate your opponents however, will quickly get the bloodthirsty crowd on your side, and they'll reward you with bags of denarii, XP and the occasional item.
The game also has a 3 Laurel Challenge system which are basically secondary objectives, they come in various forms like, "knock the same opponent down 3 times" and "kill an opponent without getting hurt", if you complete all 3 you'll get a bonus skill point to upgrade your hero's stats.
Unlike Infinity Blade that takes an on-rails approach to movement, you'll be able to roam freely around the arena in I, Gladiator to pick on gladiators busy duelling with each other and collect bags of shiny denarii lying around.
Combat is intuitive and involves a tap to lock on to your target, the standard directional swipes, button controlled blocks and dodges, and impressive combos that dismember opponents. I, Gladiator has a nice duel-wield function for swords, and if you're a fan of Spartacus or you just like to look awesomely badass and super cool, you'll definitely love this. Opponents cleverly dodge your attacks and fight back ferociously with difficulty scaling quickly after the first few levels, beginner gamers might have some trouble keeping up.
Traps in the arena not only stay true to the theme of arena combat but also add depth to I, Gladiator and take the game further. Deadly spikes, foot-hold traps, roaring flames and spinning blades can and should be used to full advantage against your opponents, traps affect anyone though, so you'll have to be wary of them too.
Character development allows for customisation of your character to your individual playing style and is pretty standard with skill points that you can allocate to health, stamina, attack and defence with each level up, and also with offensive and defensive items that can be purchased in the shop. Unfortunately, all the best items can only be bought with gold, this isn't a problem if you're not averse to grinding a bit here and there and settling on those that aren't priced in gold, generally the third best items.
As fans of gladiator and arena style swipe combat games, we definitely enjoyed playing I, Gladiator and we're looking forward to the multiplayer update. What sets I, Gladiator apart from your usual action, hack and slash style game is how much depth it has, from combat to traps and the cheering crowd, the game stays true to gladiator and arena style combat and has truly impressed us.
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The product(s) featured in this review were purchased/obtained by ice cream when the sky is grey.