Sands of the Coliseum is an Arena style game where you play a up and coming gladiator just starting on the greeco-roman gladiatorial circuit. You start with little to nothing and then have to work your way up from the very bottom. I feel I should note before I continue that this game contains graphic violence and copious amounts of bloodshed, you have been warned.
After starting a new game you are taken to the gender selection screen. I find the choice of gender really doesn't affect the game that much with males being able to do a bit more damage from the start while females can regain more MP during battles.
Ultimately this is a matter of preference as any initial bonuses gained from gender selection are quickly made null as you level up.
After choosing gender your taken to the Avatar customization screen. From here you can name your character, the gladiatorial team they are a part of, as well as visually customize the look of the character.
The choice of clothes is kind of a moot point as the armor you equip them with will override the initial selection. Over all though since the choices here are purely cosmetic in nature it falls once more to personal preference.
After creating a character your dropped right into the games combat tutorial, a one on one battle that should be fairly straight forward.
Battle is turn based with the speed stat of each character determining the order in which they can act. The higher the speed stat the more often a character takes their turn.
Order of attack is displayed on the right side of the screen, available options are displayed on the left.
The stats of all the battles participants are displayed on the bottom. The right hand team being your opponents, the left hand team being your own combatants.
After choosing an attack (weak, medium, or strong), or a technique (which are unlocked as you level up) you choose a body part of your opponent to attack.
Armor must be overcome before being able to attack the actual limb/body part. Body parts that take enough damage are incapacitated (incapacitating the core body or the head effectively defeats the opponent). Body parts that take enough overkill damage are severed, or disemboweled respectively.
Assuming you didn't execute all of your opponents in battle you will be given a choice. Mercy nets you more experience, while blood gets you more loot.
Following the wishes of the crowd nets you more MP level exp, otherwise it's all a mater of whether your trying to level up or gain loot to sell or use.
After choosing mercy or blood, you are taken to the loot screen. Here your exp and Mp exp are applied to each character in your team respectively.
Loot can be viewed and by mousing over their icons. One can then either pick and choose what to loot or hit the loot all button.
All items that are not looted will be lost forever so keep that in mind before leaving the loot screen.
Between battles in the coliseum you are taken to the map screen. From here you have access to a slew of resources that can be used to improve your ability to deal out death in the arena. You start with access to only one city, Londinium, and unlock the other cities one by one by winning battles in the coliseums.
The options available to you here are broken into to categories. The ones in the upper right are mostly team management, with a few exceptions. The options in the Lower left however are directly affected by what city you have selected.
The inventory screen allows you to change out the equipment for each of your gladiators. Each gladiator can have equip one helmet, two arm guards, one chest piece, and two leg guards.
Gladiators also have the option of using up to two one handed weapons, one two handed weapon, or a single one handed weapon and a shield.
Each characters stats can be viewed beneath their portrait
The skill screen allows you to allocate both stat and skill points as you level up. Upon reaching a new level each character receives three attribute points and one skill point.
Attributes each affect one part of combat, what each attribute does can be viewed by mousing over the area just to the left of the stat.
Skill points are used to unlock new skills on the skill tree, which is broken down into five categories with six different tiers. Each new tier above the first requires that you spend a certain amount of skill points in that category to unlock. Skill and attribute points can also be reset on this screen for one thousand gold allowing you to re-allocate them to better suit your needs.
The Team screen allows you to shuffle team members around, assuming you have more than three that is.
This screen also allows you to change the default row your gladiators start combat in, as well as determine whether they will be controlled manually or by the games AI.
The blacksmith is one way to acquire better gear for your gladiators. Though he requires one metal bar for each piece he makes and the actual gear he makes is generated at random.
From thirty metal bars you could just as easily end up with thirty daggers as you could any other combination of items.
The fact that the ability to acquire metal bars seems to be limited outside of the premium service of buying them for real money means that you should probably wait till your a rather high level before utilizing the blacksmith.
The Trophies screen lets you view how many goals you have reached as well as what rank you are within each of the nine cities in the game.
This screen also lists how many battles you have won and lost as well as what your overall rank is.
The Coliseum is where you battle to earn gold and experience points. Every city has one and each city's coliseum has progressively more challenging opponents.
Under the coliseum screen you have access to the multiplayer side of things and the daily bonus. Neither of which I will be covering in this review as they are both fairly straight forward in and of themselves.
The goals screen can also be accessed from the Coliseum. Here is listed five distinct challenges, and the rewards one can achieve by completing the corresponding challenge.
Each city's coliseum has a different set of challenges though the rewards tend to be similar, with three being gold, and two being metal bars.
It's worth noting that this is one of the only ways to acquire metal bars, the others being the daily reward (time consuming), and purchasing them with real money.
The games equipment shop is where you can sell off the equipment you can't use as well as acquire new equipment for your team.
Shop inventory is randomized and refreshes after a few battles. The quality and quantity of items available is linked to the city your in at the time. earlier cities offer less than thrilling selections while later cities hold better quality gear in greater quantities.
Items can also be equipped to your characters from this screen
The slave shop is where you can acquire teammates. Much like the equipment shop you can assign newly purchased members right to the team from this screen.
The level and number of available gladiators is also affected by which city your in, with more advanced cities providing higher level gladiators.
All in all Sands of the Coliseum is an in-depth and free to play gladiator game that is a fun (albeit rather gory) strategy/rpg game. I can think of only two things that Berzerk Studio's could do to improve this game and that is to reduce the grind required to get materials for the blacksmith and to remove some of the emphasis on premium services. Aside from that though great game overall and well worth a play.