Gladiators on Facebook, an updated and improved social strategy game based on the popular web game with the same name, is now open its Coliseum to the mass audience. Instead of a viewer, you will the head of a gladiator school, buying slaves from the market and training them into fierce warriors for bloody battles in the arenas of ancient Rome. Fame, wealth and glory await!
Gladiators is a hybrid title that merges arena fighting simulation, tactics with role-playing elements. It starts with a usual tutorial with an unusual voiceover introduction alongside the texts. Through that, you will start your career with a handful of coins – build up the gladiator school, buy a couple of slaves in the market, train them with starting skills, and toughen them up in battles for practice and coins. Then, the guidance ends, ushering in the major contents.
The game features a very simple interface design including a square main screen with several functional buttons displayed at the bottom. It’s easy to sum up and switch to and fro between different screens. Compared to the brevity of the interface frame, the battle scene is surprisingly fully detailed and animated. The first battle against NPC during tutorial won’t fail to make a great impression.
While the sandglass toggling up and down to load the battle scene, you probably won’t expect much more than what you usually see in an ordinary strategy game, real-time or turn-based. But once the opposing gladiators enter the coliseum and approach each other, the close-up effect may begin to rouse your interests and attract your attention. Then you see the two groups of gladiators engage in real fights – stab, defend, block, dodge, attack, hurt, exhaust, fall down, etc. – and you begin to take your own gladiators seriously for their great performance.
The in-game battles, even those against NPCs in the easiest level, are a feast to eyes, though you don’t have any interruptive control in the midst of battles. A strategy-oriented battle, it requires you to take command before a battle starts. You need to train your gladiators regularly in school, teach them combat skills, equip them with armors, learn their strength and weakness, and set the suitable tactics (mainly in choices of attack or defense, speed or power, block or dodge) to dispatch them against the enemies.
Currently, there are ten different types of gladiators that can be unlocked at specific levels. Each type has its own features in weapon, armor and even hamlet, historical background, fighting style and rock-paper-scissors matching formula. Retiarius is the simplest type, sneaky yet dangerous, which will throw its fishnet to trap an enemy temporarily and take the chance to attack with its trident; the fishnet, however, is useless against the smooth rounded helmet of the Secutor, who seldom give fighters of the Retiarius type their usual initial attacking opportunity. To get the detailed info of your gladiators, you can visit the Library in the Town and get an overview of all types, which will offer certain guidance in what type of slaves to buy and what strategy to use.
Besides the three basic types available at Lv.1, you can gradually get the more complex and stronger types like the dangerous and defenseless Diamchaerus, defensive Hoplomachus, Sagittarius most useful in collective battles, horse fighter Eques, and the most terrible Essedarius that can shoots in a Celtic chariot and fights with a sword when dismounts. But you can only purchase those types of slaves when you gain high enough Fame by battle.
There are four types of battle in the Arena/Coliseum, two available in the initial, which offer varied degrees of difficulty and diversified challenge and rewards. Take some practice in the Training mode against NPCs of three difficulty levels, journey the empire and launch your career, participate in tournament and finally fight for the championship in Rome. After each battle, though, you need to give your fighter some time to recover or to be treated when in great injury – of that, you need a well-built base where gladiators can train, learn skills, recover from bath or hospital, raise morale and get better equipment.
To sum up, Gladiators is a refreshing experience with its hybrid gameplay. It is intriguing in the beginning and grows better as you explore deeper. Gladly, it is worked on with more contents to add in the future. The various types of fighters, deep strategy, and great presentation of battles bring a satisfactory journey back to Rome.