Roman gladiator fighting - ideal gaming material right? I think so, but there haven't been many games about the brutal sport. Now here's Colosseum, a fighting game with RPG elements thrown in for good measure.
You start the game as a slave and are then bought to be used as a gladiator. You’re told that if you earn the amount of money that was required for your purchase you will be released, and therefore no longer be a slave. So you begin the long and hard Road to Freedom. You start each week off with a training session, you can choose to work on certain areas of the body, e.g. arms or legs, to gain more attack power or movement speed. Or you can work on combos or training fights. You get points depending on how successful your training has been which then can be spent on leveling your character up at meal time. The next day you’ll be heading to one of three different arenas, one of which is the mighty Colosseum in Rome.
Once at the Colosseum it’s time to fight in a variety of matches with varying prize money. The match types are, Team Battle, Battle Royal, Duel, Battle Recreation and Hunting (fighting animals) - yeah you can even fight against animals like tigers, which is really cool. But mostly you’ll be fighting fellow gladiators. You’ll be armed with an assortment of weapons; swords, daggers, maces and spears. With these weapons you can use different styles of fighting; ‘one weapon’, ‘two weapons’, ‘one weapon with large shield’ or ‘unarmed’. The more you use these styles the better you will become. Like I mentioned, there are an assortment of weapons each with different stats that are upgradeable, which is a really neat feature along with leveling up, which is the added RPG element I mentioned.
The actual fighting is solid, you can pull off a fair amount of moves and the fighting styles change the gameplay. The ‘square’ button performs an attack from the left, ‘Circle’ from the right and ‘Triangle’ does a high attack. During the battles you can drop/throw your weapons, helmet and pick up any discarded weapons. This can get awkward in the heat of the battle because you have to hold L1 and press Square or Circle to drop the weapon in your left of right hand respectively, and you can accidentally drop your good hard-earned items which is annoying. The AI of the enemy is quite stupid at times; attacking team mates and running into spikes. But usually they defend themselves and attack quite well. Another annoying feature is that if you lose a battle you lose all of your weapons and armour.
While I don’t think it’s essential, the game is a bit light on bloodshed. When you hear about Roman gladiators it’s well known as a bloody and violent sport. While the characters do get cuts and blood appearing on there limbs etc, a few hands or arms getting cut off or decapitations would have been a realistic improvement. The game looks pretty good, nothing amazing but very decent and solid throughout. Character models are detailed along with the various items and locations. The characters are well animated and the way they receive battle damage does look good, but could be gorier - I mean, it looks like they’ve been cut by paper some times, not a sword. Large arenas add to the spectacle. The game would also lend itself to a 2 player versus mode, but sadly there isn’t one.
The audio is a bit of a downer, all the voices are rather overacted and all sound like the actor in question is putting on a voice. I actually laughed out loud once because it was that bad. The music is ok but you hear the same tracks over and over.
Overall… I had a feeling this might be a hidden gem. The fights and RPG elements are quite good, but it’s a game that the more I play the more disappointed I get. Definitely a game that falls into the category of ‘could have been better’; hopefully there will be a sequel that will improve things.