The Gladiators: Galactic Circus Games
YEP, its true: The Gladiators has nothing to do with a certain bad-tempered Australian actor maiming Romans and wild animals iri a ring. Sadly, it also has no connection whatsoever with queue-jumping outside Ulrika Jonsson’s hotel room. So, with the two best ideas out the window, the question is just what the hell could The Gladiators: Galactic Circus Games be all about?
Well, with a hint of Smash TV (remember that?), a large dose of Z: Steel Soldiers and a healthy portion of Cannon Fodder, the gameplay for this steroid-pumped parade is pure guts and glory. Sure, there’s subtle strategy involved (more on that later) but essentially this is a game to relieve tension.
Plot-wise The Gladiators owes a lot to Buck Rogers In The 25th Century and The Running Man. From a retro-kitsch perspective this is great - but connoisseurs of beware - the tackiness is almost overwhelming. For example: a man investigates a black hole, is captured by aliens and must earn his freedom by winning a series of gladiatorial-type tests in a massive galactic arena. It’s hardly inspired, but like most things French, developer Arxel Tribe manages to inject its muscle-bound specimen with plenty of charm.
You Ring My Bell
At first you can only play as humans, or to be more precise as Greg D Ca' ahan, an exMarine. Complete the human scenario (we say scenario - it’s actually seven battles on seven different landscapes fought in an arena) and you move on to a further two scenarios, this time from the perspective of the two featured alien races.
Each battle takes place in a packed arena full of thousands of bloodthirsty aliens. Every time there’s a serious bit of action in the ring, a thunderous roar erupts urging the competitors on to even greater acts of violence.
To lend an even more fevered edge to the game, the destruction is described with the help of an enthusiastic commentary courtesy of the alien version of John Motson. Admittedly this punditry only appears at key points during the 'show’ and is not actually realtime, but still, it evokes a tangible atmosphere and gives the game that distinct Running Man vibe. If you’ve got a GeForce 4 graphics card, the atmosphere is increased with the use of some great water and dust effects. But that’s not to say the graphics are bad for the rest of us, even if the camera does have problems settling into position...
Rules Of Engagement
Despite the fact that The Gladiators offers a variety of units for you to control and most levels require you to capture 'spawn zones’ so that you can create even more, it is still a bit of a no-brainer when it comes to tactics. However there are certain gameplay quirks that need to be sussed.
Firstly, terrain and cover is extremely important. Climb onto roofs, shimmy up lookout towers and hide in bunkers. Do anything and everything you possibly can to gain a height advantage or protect your troops. Fact is, this game is difficult, and if you’re caught out in the open by a bunch of aliens with six-foot-long scimitars it’s gonna hurt.
Secondly, destroy all the scenery you possibly can. Incinerate trees and bushes that aliens might be hiding in (and believe us they do like hiding in them) and blast through walls. Every piece of the landscape can be wiped out - and there’s usually good reason to do so.
Finally, rush attacks don’t work. Bazooka boys always need to stay just behind the infantry and your commandos are great at scouting ahead and then luring foes into an ambush. Larger units such as tanks pack a much larger punch than the ground-based troops but you won’t actually get to use them until later in the game. The key is to use each unit separately and to its strengths and only then can you play The Gladiators without becoming so infuriated you want to chop your own hands off.
The Gladiators is a great game with only a few negative points, but much as we try and imagine it being successful, we can’t. The main problem is that it falls between two categories; it’s neither a fully blown RTS game nor a full-on action game. This was a problem that befell both Battle Realms and 7: Steel Soldiers and sale suffered because of it. Ultimately, the same is likely to happen here.
On a brighter note, the game is well worth buying, providing an excellent mix of entertainment and action. Like many a French creative entity before it, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about The Gladiators which keeps you mesmerised until the very last limb has decomposed on the battlefield. There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to gladiators, this one is even meaner than the infamous Mr Crowe.
Download The Gladiators: Galactic Circus Games
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP