Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance Hands-On

We charge into bloody battle in Acclaim's forthcoming hack-and-slash action game.

In Acclaim's neck of the woods at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the company is showing off its recently announced action game Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance. The game is only about 60 percent complete at the moment, but we still managed to get a good feel for its gory brand of action.

The game is obviously styled after the Academy Award-winning Ridley Scott film Gladiator. You play as a wrongfully imprisoned warrior forced to become a gladiator and fight for his life. He won't just square off against others like him, though--in fact, we spent our time hacking up weird lizardmen and skeletons. The game's combat system is easy to pick up. You can execute various combos by stringing together heavy slashes and light attacks. The targeting still needs a little work, but since the gladiator swings his sword in a wide arc, it's easy to nail multiple enemies at once without having to aim.

Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance uses a fixed, roving camera system and an isometric perspective, making the game reminiscent of Devil May Cry, though the gameplay itself reminded us more of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. The action has a pretty good feel to it already, though it got a little repetitive after a while--however, apparently the gladiator will learn new moves as he goes along. We gained one special power, granting us herculean strength temporarily, so that all the enemies we struck went flying backward. The game is nice and gory. Enemy corpses don't disappear or anything, so often the scenery will be strewn with blood and bodies at the end of a skirmish. The game's graphics have some pretty good effects--we liked the use of diffused, washed-out lighting to make some of the environments appear as though the sun were beating down upon them.

Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance looks promising, and those wishing for a pure hack-and-slash action game have something to look forward to in it. Only the Xbox version of Gladiator was on display, but the game is slated for release on the PC, PS2, and GameCube as well. All four versions are due out sometime this fall.

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