What is with Roman or Greek gladiators these days? I mean, we have a lot of entertainment today based on the gladiator sports. For example, we have films and shows like Gladiator, 300, and Sparticus. One genre of entertainment however has also gotten this attention and that is the video game industry. I was surprised to see how many games were made based around the gladiator theme. They were mostly on the PS2 and Xbox, but I am going to look at the PS2 versions. The first game we are going to look at today in this Gladiator Special is the PS2 game published by Koei, Colosseum: Road to Freedom! I know that one of the first things you notice on the cover is the publisher’s name, Koei. This worried me since I was hoping I was not playing another game that was trying not to be Dynasty Warriors (the game series they are known for), but somehow ending up like Dynasty Warriors. I can’t tell you right now if it is a Dynasty Warrior’s knock-off, but you have to read on to find out. So, let’s put on a helmet and a sword for some reason, and review Colosseum: Road to Freedom!
The story for the game is dead simple, and not a lot of thought went into it. You are a captured prisoner trained to be a gladiator. Throughout the game, you have to go through multiple challenges and fight other people to win money in order to pay off your freedom. It is up to you to become a freeman in this horrible world of gladiators. Like I said, the story isn’t much and there isn’t really anything too interesting.
The gameplay featured in Colosseum is an action game with some RPG elements mixed into the game. The main thing to do is to train and level up your attributes, like agility, stamina, and strength. After training for a day, you can also go get some food to gain even more attribute points added to your overall stats. After the day you train, you are sent to different coliseums, like the famous Roman Coliseum, to go through multiple challenges. Before you take on the challenges, you have to put on armor and weapons. At first, all you get are simple dull weapons and helmets. Throughout the battles however, you will face enemies who wield stronger shields and weapons that you can pick up and take back with you outside the Coliseum. You can also sell old and weak weapons for cash to help pay for your freedom. During the fights, there are a few things to watch out for. The first thing is that you don’t lose too much stamina. If you do lose a lot of stamina, that means your body gets tired after doing a charged attack and is open to the enemy’s assault. The second thing is to make sure you dodge, and don’t get your items knocked off you. The third and final is that you survive and not get killed. If you do get killed, you have to give up half of your cash to restart outside the Coliseum. The challenges range from staying alive, killing a certain amount of enemies, killing the general, and taking on special challenges against certain gladiators. A falcon up in the corner represents the different parts of your body that you must be careful not to get into the red. You can also use tablets that give you different attacks, and upgrade them depending on how many points are in that certain attribute. It doesn’t make a lot of sense typing it so you have to play it for yourself.
The graphics, while nothing special and are considered bland, look good by today’s gaming. It might not be as good looking as God of War 2 or Ratchet and Clank Up your Arsenal, but it holds up well. The opening cut scene definitely is the best-looking thing about this game. The voice acting is okay, but if you have played another Koei game, Bladestorm, then you would know that the voice acting is basically the same caliber. It doesn’t sound right at times and seems a little awkward. The music is, well, not that good. It definitely isn’t the game’s strong point and I think this is a budget title game.
I guess I have already started on the bad points, so let me continue with them in this paragraph. The combat is just awful. How can a gladiator game have horrible combat? Well, it mostly has to do with the controls. Since each of the face buttons are an attack, it makes the combat stiff and awkward. It definitely makes the game very hard to play when you are going against 2 or 3 enemies. The difficulty is also a bit unfair, since a lot of the time, enemies are really guard-happy. It isn’t as bad as Alter Echo, but it is still pretty bad. The enemies can also hit harder once you go up one rank. It’s also annoying, since like I said, if you die, you have to give up your hard earned cash. It’s just tedious when you have to fight against 20 gladiators in a row. The game also gets tediously repetitious, since the challenges don’t really change and it can get extremely boring after a few hours. I think one of my bigger nit picks about this game is that you can’t take every weapon that you gain from the enemies. This is annoying, since when you have to fight against 20 enemies in one of the challenges, they drop a lot of good items and you can’t simply just pick them up and store them in a bag or something. It’s irritating and it isn’t that fun. It is like they wanted to be realistic with the combat, but it just backfires on this game. At least this isn’t another Dynasty Warrior game that Koei just pushes into our face.
Okay, so I got good news and bad news, the good news is that there are way better Gladiator-themed games out on the PS2 and other consoles. The bad news is that this game just sucks. It has clunky controls, stiff combat, a tedious difficulty, and is overall just boring. It is just a bad game. I wouldn’t say it belongs on the blacklist since there are worse games that do deserve to be destroyed, but this game is probably only good for a weekend and then stored away. Stay tuned for more reviews and another Gladiator game.
This game gets a solid 5 out of 10