Age of Gladiators II: Rome Review

Managing your own entertainment death squad is ALWAYS a tempting theme to check out. Age of Gladiators II: Rome sends you to Ancient Rome as the owner of a team of gladiators fighting for money, fame, and prestige. You have an opportunity to build a tycoon off of the corpses of your enemies and slaves. If running your own school and building a lucrative business empire is your thing, this game is right up your alley.

Features:

  • Control a team of gladiators in turn-based combat utilizing different abilities, active items, and combat styles.
  • Build your own gladiator school including a hospital, training grounds, armories, and workshops.
  • Buy and run a variety of businesses that provide income and boosts.
  • Hire scouts, trainers, doctors, weaponsmiths, and armorsmiths.
  • Manage unique, dynamically-generated gladiators to maximize their killing potential.
  • Send your gladiators on missions to assassinate targets, guard wealth businessmen, and rob caravans.
  • Bet on or against your gladiators to make money.

What I love about this game:

There is just so much to micromanage in this game. You can control essentially every aspect of your gladiators’ lives including forcing them to fight through sickness and injury. Customizing a school of gladiators has never felt more real with the ever-present threat of bankruptcy, as well as the ludicrous income you receive when placing a bet against the odds. Ever want to get ridiculously rich by betting against your own gladiator and killing him? Yeah you can do that in this game. The amount of detail you have control over is something to behold – enough to send away some potential gamers unfortunately.

If you’ve ever dreamed about training a gladiator and rising to fame and glory through him, you can finally do it. Hiring the right trainers to maximize the gladiators glory gives him a chance to win even more fame through each victory. Fighting in battles and building a training ground will accelerate your man’s growth and outpace all of your competition.

In comparison to the previous titles in this series, having more missions, adding the research function, and being able to own businesses that provide income/bonuses is a nice touch. It adds a level of realism and immersion that really gives you the feeling of having control over a gladiator school and becoming a prominent citizen of Rome.

Age of Gladiators 2: Rome is one of the few games in the genre of managing a gladiator school (the other being Domina) and is great for fans of Roman culture. Theme itself was enough to keep me going through the rough starts and questionable UI. I have always had a strong imagination and this game scratches my historical fantasy itch.

Common Complaints:

This one is rough. There are so many places to improve, it really makes me question if this would have been better off as an Early Access title first. More community feedback could have GREATLY benefited this title. Let’s get started:

  1. Simulating battles makes it ridiculously difficult to keep your gladiators healthy and fit. I commonly saw my team coming out of a battle with 15-20 turns of injury or fatigue – meaning that they can’t continue fighting or be at risk of dying. Meanwhile, playing the battle yourself can allow you to beat them with little to no risk. First person to move wastes AP moving to the other side and gets put at a MAJOR disadvantage. The AI needs to be tweaked so that you can actually win once without losing your team for the next 5 battles.
  2. The turn-based combat isn’t very fun. For anyone who has ever played Swords and Sandals the gist of it will seem very, very familiar. Two guys (or teams) walk towards each other, then just start beating them down until one side dies. Sure, you can use active items and a few additional abilities, but the majority of the time you’ll just be selecting from light, normal, and heavy attacks. Like mentioned above, the current releases AI just starts running at you and wastes a turn and gives you an edge to win the battle.
  3. The UI in this game is a little bit hard to use. The layout itself makes sense, but it started to make my eyes sore after just under one hour of gaming. There are tons of tiny details and it is very easy to miss a bit of information while the lack of the scrolling feature and small click buttons can make it a pain just to get one small thing done. I hope that there are more hotkeys and that the devs improve the fluidity of moving through menus in future updates.
  4. Economic stability is hard to come by. Lose your main gladiator and it brings you dangerously close to bankruptcy or at least forcing you onto a slippery slope towards it. It was a little better if you set the economy to an easier setting, but getting your ludus off the ground is still very challenging. Loans are often an essential part of your start, but then you have a ton of interest to pay off over the long term.
  5. Weapon and armour degradation is too high. Let me give you an example. I start off with a fantastic A+ recruit by pure chance, and I figure its best to give him the best armour and weapons I can get (25,000 for armour and around 5,000 for weapon). A few battles later, those are destroyed and I have barely enough funds to buy the cheapest set. Two rounds later he is dead. I get that its realistic to have equipment degrade over usage, but I hope the devs tweak it a little bit so that at least in the early game the stuff you purchase can last a little bit longer.

All in all, these are problems that can be easily fixed by the devs and they are extremely receptive to the community. One steam user has already reported that within 1 hour of posting a bug to the forums, the devs fixed it.

Should you buy it?

Pros

  • Quality theme and immersion.
  • Plenty of management and building options.
  • Excellent gladiator customization and training options.
  • Every game is different due to procedural generation.
  • Devs are extremely active with the community.

Cons

  • Difficulty needs to be tweaked early game.
  • Combat could be a little bit more interesting and AI has to be tweaked.
  • UI could be slightly clearer and be more fluid when moving between menus.

Buy if you enjoy:

  • Training and managing a team that goes out and makes you money.
  • Building facilities to improve your team and increase your fame.
  • Expanding your business across an empire.
  • Micromanaging and customizing every aspect of your team to maximize efficiency.
  • Roman history.

All in all, with a ~$20CAD price this game is well worth the money you put in. If you get it now, there is a 10% sale that you can take advantage of as well. There are hundreds of hours of entertainment in this game, and supporting developers like Creative Storm enables us to enjoy even better games in the future!

**If you would like to try out the first Age of Gladiators, you can purchase it from Humble Bundle here for ~$10USD. This will support the running of this blog financially at no additional cost to you!**

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