Colosseum: Road to Freedom PS2 Review

Colosseum: Road to Freedom is very much in the vein of Capcom’s great Shadow of Rome. Both have you playing as Roman Gladiators that are attempting to gain freedom by chopping up enemies in front of a roaring crowd. With very few games like this, comparisons are of course going to be inevitable.

After a brief question session that determines what kind of Gladiator you’ll become, you’re thrown straight in to a battle where you’ll no doubt find, to probable dismay that Colosseum is much less of a bloody offering than Capcom’s version of ancient Rome was. No limbs or heads detach from bodies here, and we don’t wish to appear as bloodthirsty monsters, but this did contribute to making the combat of Capcom’s effort oh so gratifying, but in a nice touch for Colosseum, both you and your opponents at least sport visible wounds as the battles unfold.

Though it may lack fountains of gore, there’s still a damn fine combat system here, which not only allows you to attack in multiple directions by nudging the stick in any given direction, but also allows you to aim for different locations of an opponents body allowing you to for example weaken his arm, thus resulting in him losing his shield and therefore part of his defence. Even though many battles can be won by good old button mashing, this feature still manages to add a satisfying strategic edge to proceedings that many gamer in this day and age crave.

It’s hardly a surprise that the game allows you to partake in quite a few different events, which include battles with beasts, survival battles where your objective is to shockingly survive, mock battles where historical battles are recreated and single opponent duels, which just happen to be some of the most strategic fights in the game. Winning in any of these as well as any of the other available battles, will reward you with money, a large sum of which will go to the games ultimate object, which is of course to pay off your debts and regain your freedom. The rest can be used to purchase weapons or armour and resurrect yourself if you happen to come a cropper in battle.

Outside of battle, you are able to equip special tablets, which allow you to use special abilities as well as train your Gladiator up in a variety of mini games. Your amount of success in these simplistic rhythm-action like sessions determines the quantity of points you’ll receive. After training has come to its end, you’ll get the chance to spend these on food, which actually functions as a stat raiser, allowing you to improve your character in a myriad of ways, and again this results in it a being a bit more cerebral than just constant brainless bashing of the buttons would have been.

This basic structure of training, wandering around, buying, equipping and battling can begin to grow monotonous especially after an extended session of play, but there’s still something strangely compulsive about Colosseum that we just can’t quite put our finger on. Perhaps it’s the RPG aficionados in us that drive us to obsessively level up our character to kingdom come and gain ever more powerful weapons and armour or maybe our action guy side just can’t get enough of slicing up people. Either way, in spite of its disappointing lack of dismembered body parts, Collosseum: Road to Freedom is still a nice, solid effort.