Shadow of Rome
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|Shadow of Rome|
North American cover art
|Developer(s)||Capcom Production Studio 2|
|Genre(s)||Third-person Action, Fighting, Stealth, Racing|
Shadow of Rome is a video game for the PlayStation 2 (PS2) console, developed and published by Capcom in 2005. It is a hybrid fighting/stealth game set in ancient Rome and loosely based around the assassination of Julius Caesar.
Shadow of Rome is a third-person, action-adventure game with some elements of racing. The game has two types of gameplay: close quarters combat levels involving Agrippa and stealth-based, puzzle-solving adventure levels involving Octavianus. There are also levels in which Agrippa competes in chariot races.
Agrippa uses various gladiator weapons to fight, including swords, maces, spears, among others. Agrippa can use special moves such as "Red Volcano"—a move used to slice enemies in half— to please the crowds. As a result, the crowd will throw down items to help Agrippa. Once a weapon is used enough, it will break, and the player will have to find a new one inside the area.
In Octavianus' levels, the player sneaks around various locations in Rome. Octavianus cannot kill enemies, he can only knock them out. Other ways to pass these levels are by hiding in large pots or by stealing clothes and impersonating someone.
The premise and story of the game revolves around the murder of Julius Caesar, and its aftermath. The story is progressed through Octavianus' portions in the game.
After the death of Caesar, Antonius ascends to the throne as the new Emperor. Promising to lead Rome with the dignity and brilliance the former Caesar did, he is cheered and loved by everyone.
General Agrippa - after a successful raid against a Barbarian outpost - is told that Julius Caesar has been murdered. Shocked, he returns to the Foro Romano, where he is told that his father, Vipsanius, has been framed for the murder. To make matters worse, his mother has been condemned to death. Agrippa cannot accept this, and decides to free his mother by killing her guards. Before they can escape the city, however, she is killed by General Decius, who then defeats Agrippa in battle. Before he is killed, however, Agrippa is rescued by Claudia, a female gladiator. After they are safely away, she tells him that a tournament is to be held to determine Vipsanius' executioner, and that Decius is to compete in the final round. Knowing he cannot return to Rome a free man, he decides to become a gladiator and compete in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Octavianus decides to look into the matter himself. Through various endeavors into the Roman Senate, he finds out that indeed, Vipsanius is not the true murderer of Caesar. The dying Cicero informs Octavianus that a group of conspirators are the ones responsible for the murder. One by one, select Roman Senators are murdered, leading Octavianus to believe that someone does not want them to talk.
As Agrippa continues to advance in rounds, he learns that his owner, Sextus, has more than his share of secrets. Towards the end of the game, he accepts a proposal from the Egyptian twins Iris and Charmian, whose mistress (who is never identified, but hinted to be Cleopatra) needs someone of great importance assassinated. He then disappears for a time, only to reappear an assassin. His father, Pompey, was defeated in battle by Caesar's troops, and Sextus wants revenge. Since Octavianus is Caesar's immediate family, and thus true heir to the throne, Sextus goes after him, but is stopped by Claudia. Octavianus is arrested for his snooping by Maecenas, Antonius's secretary, soon after.
During the final, decisive match between Agrippa and Decius, Maecenas reveals to the masses of Rome that Caesar was not killed. Instead, his assassins murdered a double. They were employed by none other than Antonius, who found out that he was not really Caesar's heir. In the ensuing argument, it is revealed to the public that Decius is the Caesar double's true killer. The tournament was articulated by Maecenas in order to reveal the conspiracy and Caesar's true heir to a wide audience. Outraged, Antonius orders Decius to murder Maecenas, Vipsanius, and Octavianus, but Agrippa steps in, and defeats Decius for the final time.
Antonius decides to fight Agrippa himself, but loses. As guards take him away, Sextus and his army climb the walls of the Colosseum and demand Antonius. Agrippa rejoins the Roman army in taking back the streets from Sextus' army, joined by Claudia soon after. As they meet Sextus at the docks, Claudia pleads that he not fight Agrippa, but is knocked away. She regains consciousness just as Agrippa stabs Sextus. Agrippa himself begs him to give up, but before Sextus can respond, Antonius' ship fires at a lighthouse behind Sextus. As it begins to fall over, he begins to reminisce about his early days with Claudia. He calls out to her one more time before the lighthouse falls and crushes him. Agrippa and Claudia mourn his death, and Agrippa decides to go after Antonius along with the Roman navy.
After reaching the flagship, Agrippa battles Antonius, and defeats him. Antonius utters one last laugh, sneering they will never change anything and endure terrible times before falling to his death in the river below. When Agrippa and Octavianus return to Rome, they receive a hero's welcome. The two find Claudia mourning Sextus on a cliff overlooking the docks. She tells them that she is leaving Rome to travel the world. As she leaves, Agrippa asks her to come back and visit some day. She smiles at him, turns away, and walks off. Octavianus vows to seek the Pax Romana, and Agrippa vows to help him any way he can.
There is a final game revelation after the end credits. Iris and Charmian ask each other if they're ready, and state that it is time to tell their mistress that they've reached the end of the beginning.
- Agrippa (voiced by Rick Weiss) - The game's primary protagonist. The tough centurion Agrippa haphazardly becomes a gladiator in order to avenge his mother, slain by general Decius, and to thwart the execution of his father Vipsanius, who has been framed for the assassination of Julius Caesar by Decius Brutus. The player controls Agrippa throughout the fighting and racing levels. He shares a close friendship with Octavianus.
- Octavianus (voiced by Scott Menville) - The game's secondary protagonist. Octavianus is the delicate nephew of the recently murdered Caesar, and a friend of Agrippa. He seeks to gather evidence to unmask Caesar's true assassin, and to reveal the conspiracy behind the deadly deed. He is controlled during the numerous stealth missions.
- Claudia (voiced by Nicole Balick) - Claudia is a freed female slave that chose to become a gladiator. Sextus found her, when she was but a child, and took her in, as she reminded him of his sister that died. She is a computer-controlled ally who assists Agrippa during certain levels of the game.
- Julius Caesar (voiced by Michael Bell) - Caesar was the most famous Roman general. On March 15, he was murdered in the senate building, and left under the statue of Pompey, in a plot by an unknown party, that later turns out to consist out of Antonius, a number of senators, and general Decius and his followers, after Caesar's will is uncovered by Egypt's agents and passed onto Antonius (in order to instigate internal strife within Rome), in which Decius and the senators are criticized, and Antonius passed over as Caesar's successor with Octavianus. Agrippa's Father, Vipsanius, is charged for doing the deed.
- Sextus (voiced by Roger Rose) - Sextus is a man of respect. He owns a gladiator stable in Rome where he meets Agrippa. He acts as Agrippa's sponsor and a guide during most of the latter's arena encounters. Near the end, it is revealed that he is actually the son of Pompey the Great, Caesar's sworn enemy, and a pirate, that joins forces with the primary antagonist, Antonius, with a desire to burn down Rome as vengeance. After confronting Agrippa at the docks during his attempted escape, and Antonius' betrayal by volley of catapult fire from sea that hits Sextus' ship and the dock, Sextus dies while protecting Claudia, an orphan slave he took in as his sister, being hit by the remnants of the collapsing lighthouse.
- Antonius (voiced by Chris Cox) - Regarded as Caesar's loyal right hand, Antonius turns out to be the driving force behind the conspiracy and the assassination, being furious that Caesar decided that he was unfit to guide Rome as emperor after Caesar's death. He is the last opponent Agrippa faces, and proves to be a formidable opponent. His weapon of choice is a custom Greatsword.
- Maecenas (voiced by Larry Cedar) - Antonius's secretary and a skillful politician. Maecenas is the man who announces the gladiatorial games, using it as a cover for his own investigation of the assassination. His motives remain unclear until late into the story.
- Pansa (voiced by Jack Angel) - Pansa was once Caesar's most trusted spy. Octavianus' family saved him once, so he is happy to help the boy in his quest to uncover the plot and the truth behind Caesar's death. Pansa also acts as a mentor to Octavianus, instructing him in the art of stealth.
- Decius Brutus (voiced by Daniel Riordan) - Decius is a brutal, amoral and an exceptionally vicious Roman general. He is the true murderer of Caesar. He will kill anyone who knows it. He murders Agrippa's mother and enjoys killing innocent people. He is the leader of the Valcross stable gladiators. When Agrippa kills one of his Valcross troupe, Decius takes it as a personal insult, as he could not return to Rome with humiliation inflicted by a low-life gladiator. So he faced Agrippa against his entire Valcross stable, in a series of matches, only to see them all defeated. In the end he battles Agrippa by himself in melee only to underline his apparent narcissism and the fact that he killed Caesar. Decius' last words were an exclamation of his self-perceived overblown military genius.
- Cassius Longinus (voiced by Michael Lindsay) - Marcus' associate, conspirator in the assassination of Caesar, murdered by Decius.
- Vipsanius (voiced by Daniel Riordan) - Agrippa's father who was wrongly accused of murdering Caesar.
- Vipsania (voiced by Moira Quirk) - Agrippa's mother. She is murdered by Decius very publicly, in the town square. Agrippa shows up and disposes of the two soldiers that were to execute her under order, and frees his mother, but Decius throws his sword at her and impales her, then overpowers the bewildered Agrippa. Vipsania dies in her son's arms.
- Cicero (voiced by Pete Renaday) - Leader of the Senate. Protective of his protege Marcus, he is quick to obfuscate details about Caesar's assassination. Later killed by Decius in order to silence all witnesses.
- Marcus Brutus (voiced by Cam Clarke) - Marcus is a well-known justice of the Senate. He is rumored to be Caesar's bastard son, and his associate is Cassius. Participates in the conspiracy because Caesar seemingly never accepted or approved of him.
- Iris (voiced by Heather Halley) - Mysterious Egyptian agent that comes to Rome to instigate political strife. Is never seen without her twin, Charmian. The twins prefer covert manipulation, and never face off in physical combat against the protagonists. Rather, they remain behind scenes, puppeteering the plot.
- Charmian (voiced by Jennifer Hale) - Iris's twin sister, also an agent of Egypt.
- Barca (voiced by Gregg Berger) - German barbarian general. Man of imposing physical stature, but honor as well. He is killed by Agrippa in the arena, after asking for an honorable death.
- Arcanas (voiced by Vanessa Marshall) - Valcross stable elite warrior and an archer.
- Narclastese (voiced by Michael Gough) - Valcross stable chariot racer. Characterized by his flamboyant dressing and attitude. After he fails to win against Agrippa he meets his end by Decius' hand, as punishment for further dishonor of the good Valcross name.
- Askari (voiced by Quinton Flynn) - Valcross stable swordsman of small stature, that wears a tribal mask and comes into the arena battle riding a war elephant.
- Zedo and Gedo (voiced by James C. Mathis III) - An African assassin duo. They attack Agrippa and Claudia while the two run after Sextus and Antonius.
- Narrator (voiced by Tom Kane) - the narrator of the story.
Shadow of Rome received generally favorable reviews from game critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the game received an average score of 75, based on 52 reviews, which indicates "general favorable reviews". Also, at GameRankings, which uses a similar grading scale, Shadow of Rome received at 76.40% ranking, based on 60 reviews.
Several critics did not like the stealth sections of Shadow of Rome. Simon Cox of 1UP.com thought the levels affiliated with Octavianus were boring, saying "its lack of experience with stealth action creates a multitude of sins for the other 50 percent of the game: the tedious drudgery that characterizes the Octavianus stealth levels." Video game critic Kristan Reed also did not like the Octavianus sections of Shadow of Rome, calling it disappointing and saying, "From the very first to the very last they're just never that enjoyable on a basic level". Bryn Williams of GameSpy called these levels "dull".
Heather Newman of the Detroit Free Press gave Shadow of Rome a favorable rating, saying the gladiator levels with Agrippa were "fun to control, fast-paced and challenging". The New York Times editor Charles Herald, however, thought the gladiator levels, at times, were "goofily over the top", saying that "Some of Agrippa's weapons are as big as he is." Despite that, Herald positively noted the gameplay, and the game a favorable review. GameSpot's Greg Kasavin gave Shadow of Rome an 8.2 out of 10, meaning "great". He complimented the storyline, saying the game has an "intriguing storyline and great-looking cinematic cutscenes". Ed Lewis of IGN also commented on Shadow of Rome's storyline. He claims the Octavianus sections "weigh down the game [...] but the rest of the game is enough to pull the game through to the end."
- "Shadow of Rome". CentreSoft. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
- Lewis, Ed. "Shadow of Rome". IGN. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
- Herold, Charles (March 24, 2005). "Fighting on the Screen, Out of Harm's Way". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
- Kasavin, Greg (February 7, 2005). "Shawdow of Rome Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
- "Shadow of Rome for Playstation 2". Game Rankings. Gamestop. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
- "Shadow of Rome for PlayStation 2 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
- Cox, Simon (February 8, 2005). "Shadow of Rome". 1UP.com. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
- Reed, Kristan (February 2, 2005). "Shadow of Rome Review". EuroGamer. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
- Williams, Bryn (February 7, 2005). "Shadow of Rome". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
- Newman, Heather (March 13, 2005). "Reviews: 'Shadow of Rome,' 'Devil May Cry 3,' 'FIFA Street'". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved July 20, 2012.