If you plucked an average Roman gladiator out of B.C times and gave him a tour around the earth today, he would likely be physically repulsed and hugely disappointed with the way that humans have turned out. You've got people doing Crossfit in an attempt to pass it off as 'real' exercise, millions of football fans convinced that the game they love is actually a sport (oh, you can pass a ball and fake injuries? How cute), and one look at the music industry would likely cause him to commit suicide right there and then.
He'd wonder whatever happened to real entertainment like men wrestling with deadly animals in an amphitheatre, or men fighting other men to the death and taking their opponent's lives in their hands, also in an amphitheatre. The only thing I would do is direct him towards Swords and Sandals, a gladiatorial game where simulated violence for sport and strengthening your gladiator with attributes and armaments to facilitate said sport is your only responsibility. I bet it would make this Roman I speak of all nostalgic inside.
Don't let the relatively basic aesthetic put you off; Swords and Sandals is an incredibly fun game that allows you to assume control of a gladiator and customise him from the outset. Choose from a variety of skin colours and appearances as well as some jaunty facial hair purely for amusement. Choosing of your weapons and armaments is next, though initially you cannot afford anything fancy so you'll have to settle for basic armour and tools at first. You'll begin with a barely-sharp knife but once you enter into battles to gain gold and experience points, you will be able to unlock and afford some terrifying weapons such as long swords, maces, and a variety of blades that will go through bone like butter. Various elements of your armour can also be improved over time, with different helmets, boots, shoulder guards and peripherals becoming available.
Simple Fun That's Simply Fun
The gameplay itself is also relatively basic, but don't be too quick to judge it just yet. You and your opponent are situated on opposite sides of the arena and you must click the variety of on-screen action buttons with the mouse to control your character. From a distance you can walk or jump forwards and backwards, and taunt your opponent; once you approach him and are in attacking range, your options open up to light/medium/heavy attacks or shoving him away. You perform your moves in an entirely turn-based manner, so instead of simply wielding your weapon indiscriminately, you must consider your attributes such as your current strength and defense when attacking, since the outcome of the battle is largely decided by these numbers.
Appearance and Analysis
I've mentioned that Swords and Sandals is fairly simple in its appearance, and I wasn't lying here: the game is fairly well illustrated, but the movement of your character is a little clunky and the physics just don't feel entirely right. Bizarrely, one of the most noticeable limitations of the game is that you can't actually save your progress to continue at a later time and are instead condemned to a process that hasn't been seen since the original Super Mario where you must restart if you are killed.
Annoying drawback or difficult challenge? Only you can decide that one, but it's not all that bad: you have many weapons and items to unlock and a decent range of opponents to assert your dominance over. Just don't let things slip and get killed at a crucial moment since having to restart when you're approaching the very final arena champion is enough is enough of a setback to make a grown man weep, if not sob hysterically for a good number of minutes. Well done, 3RDSense who has since produced four more games including the next in line Swords and Sandals 2 which expands very much so on the action and character building elements from the former.