Gladiators Online: Death Before Dishonor – Review
Follow Genre: Action, 'Simulation'
Developer: Dorado Games
Publisher: Dorado Games
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Gladiators Online: Death Before Dishonor – Review

Site Score
5.2
Good: Concept
Bad: Loads of bugs, Extreme lag issues, Often feels like they simply want you to spend a lot of money
User Score
5.3
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 5.3/10 (4 votes cast)

Gladiators used to be the heroes of the people, especially when they were able to fiercely slay their opponents in the arena. Often not more than mere slaves, they were bound to die fighting or be condemned to death at the end of the battle. Once in a blue moon a Gladiator would earn his freedom and walk out the arena doors a free man. In Gladiators Online: Death Before Dishonor, you’ll have to manage gladiators and fight with them, in order to gain fame and wealth. We were eager to jump into the arena, because admittedly we were still shedding tears over Russell Crowe’s ordeal in Gladiator, fifteen years ago. Gladiators Online did also make us weep as it is arguably one of those decent concepts gone awry due to poor execution. The Caesar himself would give it a thumbs down at the end of this struggle.

Gladiators Online: Death Before Dishonor

Story

No story to be found in this game, but you can make one up as you go. You are a lanista with an endless supply of gladiators at your disposal, if you have the wealth to back them up. Rise in the ranks, slay other gladiators, earn money and become the lanista with the most feared gladiators of all.

Some of the achievements you earn when gaining victories or leveling up, might give you a bit of ‘story value’, seeing you will be able to see your sadistic empire grow. Nonetheless, an online brawling/managing game such as this one does not really need a story to make things interesting.

Graphics

Even though the title made us reminisce about Gladiator, which is still a great movie today, the game’s graphical quality also made us think back of games fifteen years ago. Given it’s a free game (with microtransactions nonetheless), lower quality was to be expected, but everything kind of looks messy and lacking of details. The gladiators only have a few different physical appearances, and those look rather horrible, especially the faces of the warriors. Same can be said for the copy-paste crowd that cheers you on and the praetor who decided whether or not the fighter who has lost the battle, is allowed to live to fight another day or not. It’s even that bad that the praetor, who is always the same guy (probably Caesar?), his head seems to be glued on, as there is a horrible line separating his head and body.

That being said, the more expensive pieces of armor do tend to look ‘nice’, but sadly during battle nothing happens with them. No damage is to be seen, there is no blood that becomes visible, no wounds, simply nothing. When stabbing a rivaling fighter, you’ll see a bit of blood appear, not always from the place you punctured the other warrior and even when executing someone, nothing truly happens.

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In combination with lag, often you won’t even ‘hit’ the other fighter, making for awkward looking combat scenes, which are reminiscent of Pokémon Stadium, where the Pokémon did not hit each other either. Not only does this look bad, it’s quite frustrating as you will not be able to judge your opponent’s move properly.

Sound

There is not that much music to go around in Gladiators Online, but it’s of a reasonable quality. The tune that loops constantly is decent but that’s pretty much all there is to say about it. The SFX are often very loud compared to the music, but that’s only a minor issue. That being said, the game is brimming with cheesy one-liners that prove to be rather entertaining. Even though there aren’t that many different ones, most stay quite entertaining even after the 100th time you heard them. The only sad part about these catchphrases is the fact that they are all done by one voice actor, making it seem like each battle is a smaller portion of a gladiator themed clone-wars.

Gameplay

Gladiators Online: Death Before Dishonor is a fighting slash managing game, that revolves around combat in the arena and the necessary preparations to get your warriors ready for combat. This means you’ll be spending a hefty amount of time in the arena, as well as tending to the wounds and skills of your fighters, while keeping your income as high as possible.

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Outside of the arena, you’ll be able to purchase new gladiators which cost more or less, depending on level, skill and ‘premium’ content. The latter is only for those who wish to pay for certain options in the game, the first two are accessible for all players. There are four different gladiator classes to choose from, each being handled a tad differently. Two are more heavily shielded, while the other two have a greater range thanks to their weaponry.

Your fighters are able to level up by gaining experience in the arena and in turn they can choose different active or passive skills that will aid them in combat and each level or after each training possibility you’ll also be able to upgrade his base stats, albeit in a fairly random fashion. There are three stat categories, namely attack, defense and condition, which all have four stats in them. You can only select the category in which you are able to level up, and then the game will roll a dice in order to level up the selected category. If you are unlucky and useless stats are always selected, you can reroll the game’s choice, albeit for actual money, as the reroll items are a rare treat for free players.

Inside combat things take a turn for the worse. Of course, two men fighting until one of them perishes (depending on the contract type of your battle and the risk) always makes for an exciting battle if it weren’t for the lackluster, tedious and slow combat that often makes no sense. Sometimes enemies will dodge your attacks whilst they stand perfectly still, blocks get denied even with high block percentages and the matching system is broken as hell. It’s not that amusing to dive into your match against a player that has more than 800 matches under his belt as this doesn’t end up with the most pleasant experience one can have. If there are no gladiators battling that share the same level as your fighter, you’ll get the chance to fight an AI opponent, which first presented you with a lot of random waiting issues. It’s great to see this problem has been fixed, allowing you to have an ‘instant’ match when selecting an AI opponent.

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Elaborating on the controls and the flow of battle, it feels as if the combat itself was designed with turn-based mechanics in mind, dulling down the overall action experience. This experience could work, were it not for the extreme lag issues the game has, making you miss all your timed attacks or making you block/sidestep too late due to the same lag. Luckily you’ll be able to bind your controls to other keys as the original setup is very annoying to play with. That being said, combat gets very frustrating if you keep missing due to lag, losing a battle, or even worse, losing your gladiator because he did not survive the fight. Of course, gladiators die and it’s an interesting mechanic to implement it into the game but it’s very annoying if you keep losing fighters due to issues with the game, rather than actually losing a battle of skill.

Outside of combat you’ll have to tend to the wounds of your fighters when they survive one of their many battles, or train them for coming fights. Training, healing, raising morale and recovering stamina will require able trainers or healers, and time. Sometimes healing can take over a few hours, if you have unskilled healers. Of course, you can buy more expensive healers, but more often than not these are only available for those who have added ‘gold’ to their account, thus pay to play. This entire mechanic feels like something one would expect from a mobile game, rather than a release on Steam.

Other issues are the fact that even though winning combat gives you monetary rewards, as well as fame and experience, the rewards are too low to make any steady progress, especially if you lose a few gladiators along the way. If you have high level gladiators, such as the premium one we received in our Lanista pack for this review, it’s almost impossible to purchase his new gear when he levels up. Items are too expensive and if you dare to go into battle with items that are of a lower level, you’ll see that you come across that one guy who pays a fuckton of money and you’ll get slaughtered, often losing your fighter.

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A fun mechanic the game tends to manage in a proper fashion is gaining a fan base. After each victory your fighter will gain new fans. Gaining more fans will allow you to level up your status, unlocking a new tier of popularity. Nonetheless, each gladiator has normal fans, as well as loyal fans. Each time a gladiator levels up, a percentage of his normal fans become loyal, making sure they even stay a fan after the character dies. If a gladiator perishes in combat, the normal fans will be deducted from your total fan base, dropping your progress to the next tier. It’s pretty much the equivalent of the average soccer fan.

One thing that proves to be easy, if you win a decent amount of battles, is rising in the rankings. Every ‘season’, which lasts around nine days, you’ll have the chance to rise to the top. There are three different leagues, namely bronze, silver and gold, all with five divisions. When winning a few battles in a row, you’ll rise to a new division fairly quickly, unlocking new rewards you’ll get at the end of the season. Of course entering a new division or league will give you some pocket change as well. The fun part about the actual rewards is that you’ll get a piece of premium equipment, which is quite fun.

The community itself is unmonitored, with a chat room where no moderators are present, making is a cesspool of spammers, harassment and different languages, making normal friendly players take no risk in trying to talk to someone.

Conclusion

Gladiators Online: Death Before Dishonor has many great ideas crammed into one place, but it’s clear they’d rather force you into buying items, more than enjoying the actual experience. Healing and training is tedious, combat is broken as hell and lag makes things even worse. Nonetheless, with some extra attention this game could actually go from flop to top. The Lanista pack we were able to try out, a.k.a. paid content, did not allow us to do that much more than a free player, which is quite sad, keeping in mind the price tag that came with the pack.

All of that being said, it’s worth mentioning that the developer team is doing a decent amount of effort into making the game a more enjoyable experience. There are frequent bug fixes, but still a proper amount of work has to be done.

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Rating: 5.3/10 (4 votes cast)
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Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
Gladiators Online: Death Before Dishonor - Review, 5.3 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

1 Comment

  1. MC_JP
    December 12, 2015, 04:37

    Gladiators, death before playing this pile of shit again

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