|Shadow of Rome|
Release Date: Out Now
Hello. It’s me, Professor Ballsacks Mcbigones, the well known TV pundit. You’ve probably seen me alongside other Z-list celebrities making inane comments about the Top 100 topics on TV (the latest being Top 100 gallstones, a highpoint in home entertainment, I’m sure you will agree). What you may not have known, however, is that I am also the world’s leading authority on Hack’n’slashology; the study of big, huge, massively spiky and sharp bits of metal and the myriad ways they can mangle your puny, soft human body.
I’m here today to talk about a game that people over the age of 18 years old would probably like to purchase from their videogame retailer, and, being the bestest expert on all things that can simultaneously disembowel, gut and decapitate you, I feel I am qualified to comment. My comments on this game are thus:
Blimey, those are some mighty big weapons Woooooooo!
So, after that fair, and I think you’ll agree, accurate analysis, I shall pass you to your reviewer this afternoon, Scratchy.
Thank you Professor for the detailed analysis. I shall just move in and fill in the gaps if I may? Shadow of Rome is a reinvention of the Roman gladiatorial theme that was popularised by the film starring Russell Crowe, Gladiator. You can certainly see the influences that the film has on this game, from the visual style to the choice of audio.
Shadow of Rome contains three different gameplay experiences. The best by far, and the most prolific, is the fighting, which I’ll come to in a minute. But the other two types are worthy of mention because, although they are not as fully realised as the fighting, they mesh seamlessly into the gaming experience and provide some fun diversion from the hack and slash.
This is where the brains come in, as the non-player characters you pass may become suspicious if you are wandering around, and they may stop you and question you. If you answer incorrectly, or do something suspicious like run or crouch, then they will call the guards and you die – there’s no fighting back here. Luckily, the save points are close together (except for one 40-minute stretch at the beginning) and you can use a trial-and-error technique if all else fails.
These two sections are all well and good, but the main focus of the game is on gladiatorial combat in the arena. This is where the game really shines. You have almost all weapons available from the start, and all moves are achievable. Agrippa can equip a weapon in his right and a shield in his left, or carry a bow or minor weapon in the offhand for dual wielding. Of course, you can always plump for one of the massive two-handed weapons in the game. Controlling Agrippa is a piece of cake. With shoulder buttons for defend and lock-on (but no lock-on cycling), the face buttons control left weapon, right weapon and the triangle throws your current weapon at an enemy. This is a great way of finishing someone off, and you can even throw the huge maces about. Each weapon has a damage gauge and can eventually break, but there are plenty more to be found lying around from fallen foes or thrown in by the bloodthirsty audience. The breakable weapons give the gameplay a more frantic pace, with Agrippa scrabbling to catch a weapon off the ground before another combatant snaffles it.
On the graphics front, Shadow of Rome is a very polished affair, the gruesome amputations and bloodbaths that occur are pretty entertaining (if you like that sort of thing). Typically over the top, but fun all the same. The cutscenes are rendered using the game engine, and the emotive faces of speakers and spoken to alike are impressive.
Sound is also used to good effect, especially the meaty sound of weapons, crunching and slicing through flesh and bone, and also the noise of the crowd, which is wonderful in Dolby Pro Logic II. Music is muted and used in fanfaric force during tense scenes, and adds a nice background ambience during non-fighting sections.
- Weapons and gore.
- Crowd appreciation.
- Frantic gameplay.
- Crushing opponents with a giant mace for the first time.
- The first 40 minutes.
- No multiplayer.
- No selecting of enemies when locked on.