At the heart of Gladius is a unique mix of dynamic game play that requires players to develop and manage a school of gladiators who, over time, gain experience, learn new skills, improve their abilities and finally test their might in epic battles. Players fight with deadly weapons and powerful magic, learn vital combat tactics, and enhance and customize characters.
"Gladius takes action RPG to a whole new level," says Tom Byron, director of product marketing for LucasArts. "Besides signaling LucasArts' return to original game development, Gladius features a distinct style of play that is wrapped in an epic storyline. Players will experience a game that has incredible depth in terms of character development, but also has a unique layer of strategy related to how players manage and balance their team."
The overall scope of Gladius is huge, offering an estimated 36 hours of play in each of the game's two story lines which take players on a challenging journey across four diverse geographical regions. Each land contains a variety of warriors that players must recruit and train. Battles occur throughout the game's 20 arenas and 12 other locations. During fights players have a high level of interaction by way of an arcade style swing meter which enhances the power of attacks. A successful fight will earn victorious players highly coveted certificates and the approval of the Emperor. With each certificate collected, players move one step closer to unlocking the next region. Players control a school of gladiators that can come from 16 unique classes, including the powerful Imperial Legionary; the witches of the Galdr class, who can sing magical songs and chants; and the javelin throwing Peltast class. In all, the game offers more than 100 customizable character types, hundreds of skills, and over 400 unique weapons, helmets, shields, and other accessories with which to equip warriors.
In Gladius, players may choose to take on the role of Ursula or Valens. Ursula, from the northern land of Nordagh, is the daughter of a great barbarian king. Valens is the son of one of Imperia's greatest gladiators. A bloody conflict between their two homelands gave rise to a vengeful dark god, which nearly destroyed all of mankind. Only with the help of the revered Valkyrie was the dark god defeated, but it came at a great cost of many lives. This gave rise to an uneasy peace that has existed for decades between the two lands. Now the two young heroes must fulfill their destinies to keep the world from heading into another disastrous war.
Ursula and Valens join forces and travel across many lands, competing in gladiator tournaments where they recruit a variety of warriors. They also become immersed in the evil plot to revive the dark god. Once this wicked plan is put into action, the gladiator games cease and the small band of fighters go on a challenging quest to solve the mystery of the dark god and defeat those who would bring him back to the land of the living.
Gladius features a story mode as well as exhibition battles against computer-controlled opponents or up to four players in cooperative mode. Upon finishing the game, the tournament system remains open so players can continue to build up their characters and explore the game's four unique territories.