Publishers should take a page from LucasArts. The best way to sell your preposterous video game might be to put away the expensive pyrotechnic effects, shaky-cam footage and orchestral score and just go for laughs.
The year was 1999. A plucky young lad fresh out of the 8th grade, I had just finished reading Timothy Zahn's fantastic Thrawn trilogy a year earlier, which began my immersion into the Star Wars expanded universe. There's a lot of good stuff to be found in said universe-the aforementioned Zahn books, the Rogue Squadron series, the Crimson Empire comics and so forth. So you can imagine my anticipation of The Phantom Menace, the long awaited beginning of the prequel trilogy.
Just completed the new Tatooine DLC for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on Xbox 360. As my co-podcaster Tim Spaeth so eloquently put it, it's another piece of "stealth DLC" arriving with no forewarning or fanfare, much like Mass Effect's Pinnacle Station. However, unlike Pinnacle Station, this add-on is pretty sweet.
Starting out, the mission assumes that the player became the Emperor's new disciple at the end of The Force Unleashed proper. (This was only one of two possible endings.) Seeing main character Starkiller as a desiccated metallic husk consumed by the dark side was a bit of a shock, but still pretty cool, regardless.
Polished off Star Wars: The Force Unleashed this afternoon, and it was a pretty fun thrill ride from start to finish.
I have to admit that I had heard the gameplay had some problems before I started it, so I set the thing to Easy and I'm glad I did. The developers have a real over-reliance on snipers and people firing from a distance which wouldn't be so bad except that it's far too easy to get knocked down and fall into a gang rape as you bounce back and forth between enemies. There's nothing more frustrating than getting ping-ponged without the chance to really do anything, and even on Easy it happened to me more than I like.
Mike did his usual great job covering the nuts and bolts of Gladius, and I agree with most of his observations. However, there was one line of his that caught my attention: "While Gladius doesn't do anything to redefine the strategy RPG subgenre, it does do just enough things well to keep players interested for the duration."
Game Description: In the fantasy world of the game, the darkness of the Great War has passed and the lands of Gladius are peaceful once more. Now combat takes place only in the gladiator arenas, where schools from around the world compete for the title of Imperial Champions. You will follow the grand saga of two young heroes, Ursula and Valens, as they recruit and train a team of warriors and compete in the gladiator games. Battle with deadly weapons and powerful magic as you learn vital combat tactics while you enhance and customize your own characters. Strategic possibilities are nearly endless, with 16 character classes and over 100 unique character types from which to choose.
Gladius is an ambitious title that attempts to take the arena-inspired games beyond hack-and-slash or chariot racing—by crafting a title that's a strategy role-playing game (RPG). Interestingly enough, for the most part the approach works. While Gladius doesn't do anything to redefine the strategy RPG subgenre, it does do just enough things well to keep players interested for the duration.
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