We had the chance to see a demo of Capcom's upcoming Shadow of Rome for the PlayStation 2 and to check out a presentation on the game from producer Keiji Inafune. The presentation offered some tidbits on gameplay as well as a release date.
During his presentation on the game, Inafune showed off a clip of gameplay that gave an indication of the distinct play styles of the main characters, Agrippa and Octavius. A segment of the footage focusing on Agrippa's levels offered a glimpse of Claudia, the freed female gladiator who comes to his aid. The clips also showed off more of the unique action that will happen in the ring, such as the use of throwing axes and other items during battle to help even the odds. Clips focusing on Octavius' gameplay showcased stealth-action-style elements such as knocking out characters and taking their uniforms to gain entry into normally inaccessible areas, dragging bodies out of sight, and eavesdropping on conversations.
After the presentation, we were able to check out a segment of the game in motion. The early version was a combat level in an arena, which showed off the brutal gameplay that offered many options for hacking up opponents. The various weapons that were available logically varied in strength and speed. Larger weapons were slow and more cumbersome to wield, but once they connected, death and dismemberment came quickly. While the combat looked promising already, in an accessible beat-'em-up sort of way, Inafune stated that the team was working to add more to it. For example, they may try to incorporate crowd reaction to your play style, ensuring that the more violent and brutal you are, the more popular you get.
The graphics in the game matched up to the scenes shown during the presentation and showed off detailed environments and character models that moved fairly smoothly already. Agrippa's animation flowed well, although it's still being tuned, and the enemy death and dismemberment animations were nicely exaggerated. The visuals on display were given an extra layer of polish, thanks to some subtle filter effects used to give the action a somewhat surreal quality in places, especially when Agrippa was spilling buckets' worth of blood from his foes.
Shadow of Rome is currently slated to ship later this year in the US, in the fall and winter time frame. A European release is expected to follow shortly thereafter, while a solid Japanese release date is still to be determined. Look for more on the game in the coming months.