This game was exactly what I was looking for... Its a RPG of being a Slave/Gladiator. The learning curve was perfect. You start very simple and move up in the ranks just as your opponents do.
I have played this game over and over again. You can start a new career with a new name, or use one that you have already completed the game with carrying over his weapons and skills.
The different battles are fun to go through when you get better at the moves and combos because you can easily defeat your opponents and get much more money to put toward buying your freedom. When you buy your freedom you can buy "slaves" that allow you to carry even more spare weapons between your days of matches and training.
In addition to buying your freedom, you recieve money that you can use to upgrade and buy weapons and armor at one of the arena's shop. The upgrades give your stats a boost when you counter, or in the case of armor, wear it.
The training is an interesting part of the game. You can work specific parts of your body everytime, or do things that yield more credits toward upping your stats. This makes your gladiator react differently in his battles. Stronger men can carry heavier swords and wear better armor without being slowwed down to much. Then again, you can make your warrior faster instead and quickly dodge and parry your opponents attacks.
In addition to your scheduled training sessions, there are optional arena battles that can be skipped to do training instead.
The game has a weak ending, but alternate endings too. Don't play this for the story!!! Play it because you want a game that you can battle 20 men, or 5 tigers, or a man on an elephants back.... Team battles... Protect your leader, Kill the leader.... Every man for himself.... 1 on 1 duels with some insanely hard gladiators... The daily battles are random as far as i can tell, so if you don't like the matches for that day you can reload and get a new set, with different rules.
SO whats bad?
The moves are limited, but if you use them creatively you don't notice. Hack and slash is a great description. But you can beat on a guys shield until he drops it then beat on that arm til it breaks and dangles there usless. I remember breaking both arms on a guy once... He didn't do to well after that. You can throw your weapons and helmet. Although, its not very helpful, but the swords will stick in a guys head/neck if you hit him and kill him. Its pretty awesome when you time it right. There are special moves to that you can assign for each fighting style and those are easy to abuse.
When you die in a battle, you lose everything you were using in the battle... Helmet, armor, swords, shields... That can be frustrating when you are using your best equiptment to win. Then you have to either collect more dead guys weapons or buy them again. But the shop changes after every fight, and sometimes its not helpful. Like, who needs 3 different kinds of right arm armor?
Once you get to buy your freedom there is usually only a few days left of gameplay. that makes it hard to utilize the slave trade option.
2-player... Unless you have a friend that has the game and you want to duel him there is not alot of play for 2-players. I let my friends load other characters i beat the game with so they get a nice selection of armor and weapons. The co-op is a 5 tier battle that is really strange. Sometimes you wait 2 minutes for an opponent to come out. Sometimes there is 2 oppenents and they die in 5 seconds and your at the next level already. It loads quick though. But it is still not a great 2 player feature. Once through takes 15 minutes, and then you rarely feel like going through it again. If you wanna have fun, just trade back and forth in the 1 player mode, there is much more going on there, and the matches can be fast and slow depending on what you choose.
I would like to think that my description is fairly accurate. I would recommend this game to anyone, but not everyone will be as entertained as me. You see alot of the same stuff over and over again, if you can get past that then i think you can have alot of fun with a game that is perfect for fans of the movie Gladiator!