Shadow Of Rome PS2 Review
The year is 44 B.C. The grandeur of the Republic of Rome has been tarnished by political corruption and society has been overrun by unruliness and violence. Julius Caesar advocates for drastic reform but he is met with opposition and murdered. The horrific news finds its way to the ears of one soldier, Agrippa, whose father is accused of the murder. Unfortunately, time is running out for Agrippa as his father is to be publicly executed by the winner of the next gladiatorial event. Shadow of Rome challenges you to venture throughout ancient Rome and tells the story of two friends (Agrippa and Octavianus). Over the course of the game you will be switching between the two aforementioned characters (that both play in very different ways). Agrippa is definitely the game’s lead characters as he has more levels dedicated to him and overall he is just flat out cooler than Octavianus!
While playing as Agrippa, the game is all out action and plays like a hack ‘n slash type game akin to the Onimusha series as you fight your way up the gladiatorial ranks. It is in this section that the game gets its mature ranking as it is easily one of the bloodiest and goriest games available on PS2 with limbs being ripped up and blood being spilled everywhere. Agrippa can also pick up many weapons which are dotted throughout the game which can aid in all of the unnecessary amputation he performs on his many foes. Speaking of limbs and weapons why not combine both and use one of the limbs you hacked off one guy to beat up your next foe? Most of the weapons, shields, and armour you get in the game break very easily but there is always something else to pick up and something new to try which all add to the fun of the game. The fighting engine is also highly impressive which can lead to fantastically chaotic battles taking place time and again throughout the game. Thankfully, the controls are easy to learn so you will always feel in charge of your actions on screen. Boss encounters are also very exciting affairs and fighting/beating can be very satisfying.
On the other hand the Octavianus section plays very much like the Thief series of games as it takes on a more stealthy approach to proceedings. Very little death happens when you play as Octavianus as all you do is sneak around buildings, hiding in shadows trying not to be seen. In fact Octavianus plays like the polar opposite of Agrippa. He does not have access to any big weapons so you won’t be seeing much gory action either. Octavianus also has access to a helpful map to find your way about location and show where enemies are positioned. This map is about the only good part of an overall disappointing section of the game. We are not saying the stealth sections of SoR are bad it just does not hold up to the other stealth games out there. If you have played the Hitman series of games lately then you will be a very disappointed in what you see and if you have ever touched a Splinter Cell you will find the gameplay mechanics of these sections almost archaic. It almost seems like this section of the game was an after thought and was thrown together during the last few months of creation to make the game longer.
Graphically, SoR looks great. All of the character models seem to be highly detailed which means all gore in the game looks stomach churningly gruesome. The animation on all the characters is also of a high quality with all small moments and long combo looking lifelike. If I were to criticize something it would have to be the distinct lack of variety of enemies, you fight with many of the same kind that pop up many times throughout the game. Some of the environments can look a bit bland as well but overall SoE is a treat to the eyes with many nice touches used to bring the game to life. In terms of sound, SoE is equally impressive. First off the soundtrack suits the game very well, it does tend to repeat itself a lot but the quality of the tracks are high enough that it won’t start to grate on your ears. All the sound effects have nice impact behind them and all the weapons actually sound like they hurt. The voice acting is passable at best with a few nice one-liners used.
From the outset SoR is a highly entertaining game to play. The game is presented very well and there is a great, epic feel of fighting against the odds at many points throughout the adventure. Sure, the stealth sections let down the overall product but gladly these sections only make up a small slice of the overall game and Agrippa takes the forefront throughout. If you can put up with this small blemish then SoR could be one of the best titles you play all year. Just because a game does not have a recognizable name does not mean it can’t be an enjoyable experience.
8.2 out of 10