Tigers, Elephants, And Gladiator Begins, An Aksys Interview That Will Make You Say Oh My!


Ben Bateman and Bo deWindt II dropped by to tell us about Gladiator Begins and somehow, we changed topics to Internet memes and catgirls.

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Gladiator Begins has a lot of weapon choices. What weapon would you personally bring to a fight?


Ben Bateman: Jesus, who is the Lord. Or a spear, if Jesus is unavailable.

Frank "Bo" deWindt II: My body is a weapon.


What about armor? The game includes equipment other than loincloths and shields, right?


Ben: I will armor myself in His love, and be safe from all harm, but to be double-sure I will also wear a Kevlar vest.

Bo: Chastity belt. Passions run hot in the arena!


Now that everyone is equipped can you tell us how fights work in Gladiator Begins?


Fights in Gladiator Begins can be described best as a free-for-all where everything–and I mean everything–is a weapon. Well, except dead bodies, which is unfortunate, but whatever. You pick a weapon and armor loadout before the match begins, but your armor and weapon(s) can be knocked off during a fight, as can the armor and weapons of your opponents (and allies!).


When armor or weapons are knocked off, they fall to the ground, where they can be picked up. Armor can’t be re-equipped (with the exception of helmets) once knocked off, but anything that falls to the ground, including pieces of armor, can be picked up and wielded as weapons. For instance, you could, as the legendary Roman warrior "Two-Helmets" Jackson, wield a pair of helmets with which you bludgeon your enemies into a bloody pulp. Thrilling stuff for the kids!


Each character has three "stats": Strength, Vitality, and Endurance.


Strength determines how much weight you can carry, and how hard you hit. In other words, if your strength is low, you can’t move very fast if you wear heavy armor and carry heavy weapons. If your strength is high, however, you can gird your loins (and other bits) in all sorts of thick hunks of metal and leather, and still be able to dash around the ring like sprightly fairy! Badass!


Vitality determines your health–known colloquially as "hit points"–which determines how long you will survive in the ring once your armor has been knocked off. High vitality means you can shrug off sword blows like the love child of Chuck Norris and Jet Li, while low vitality means you’re little more than a naked, terrified, semi-mobile tube of blood and viscera. Did I mention there are lions?


Endurance determines how many times you can swing your weapon(s) before you tire out and need to take 5. This gets a little complicated, since the weight of your weapon will also affect this. For instance, if you wield the Gladius, a small Roman short-sword, you can swing it with wild abandon and have little to worry about, since such a light weapon requires very little endurance. But let’s say you have the strength to wield a tower shield, like one of these. It can also be used as a weapon! But it’s heavy, which means you can only smack your opponent with it a couple of times before you’re all tuckered out, and have to spend a few seconds wheezing in the corner of the arena and getting your breath back. Using special moves (of which there are legion) also taxes your endurance, so no spamming the Roman equivalent of Ice Car to get through all your matches.


tl;dr — A fight pretty much goes like this: You go into the arena. There are some other dudes there, and possibly ladies. They want to kill you. You hit them until you knock their armor off, and then you hit them some more until they die. Then you get money, and can steal weapons off of their dead bodies before they’re even cold. You bastard!


What kinds of fighting styles can players use?


Pugilist, Dual Swords, Sword and Shield, and Single Sword. Here are some examples:



Dual Swords:


Sword and Shield:


Single Sword:



Who would win in this hypothetical match, a roman Gladiator or the Tokyo Game Show catgirl?


In ancient Rome, gladiators were usually slaves, tasked with daily murder in hopes that one day they could earn enough to be set free. Only the most successful, the most ruthless, survived, and they did so by learning how to kill without mercy, without regret, and without fear. They were, in almost every sense of the word, killing machines.

I somehow doubt this


would pose much of a challenge to a man whose job is to kill everything he sees.


And in a fight versus a tiger?


I’m gonna go with the gladiator on this one too.


Oh, what, you want more? Details maybe? Ok. Let’s go!


image The tiger, (scientific name: Pathera tigris) is a member of the Felidae family, and the largest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera. The others are, of course, Lion-O, Mufasa, and Cat Stevens. The tiger is native to eastern and southern Asia, and is an apex predator, meaning that it hunts on top of things, and an obligate carnivore, meaning that it feels obligated to eat meat, probably because of parental pressure and societal expectations. Nevertheless, tigers have killed more humans than any other large cat (the number killed by small cats is significantly higher), and are therefore a hideous, striped threat to any and every human being that dares draw breath: They are tremendous and adorable murder machines made of muscle and hate. How tremendous, you ask?


Well, the male Siberian tiger can grow to nearly 306 kilograms, which is about 674 pounds. This means that a tiger can weigh about as much as 3 fully-grown human men—in other words, 3 kill-o-grams.


As such, a small, weak human would seem to present little challenge to that engine of destruction known as the tiger—especially if William Blake’s assertions are true, and tygers have the capability to ignite themselves in bright-burning flame. Still, we know from reading history books or watching Rome on HBO and the BBC that the Roman empire was not devoured by tigers from the inside out, meaning that mankind must have found some way to tame—or kill, I suppose—these majestic and deadly avatars of God’s righteous wrath.


So how did they kill them? With swords, and likely spears and tridents as well, and—to be honest—probably anything pointy or heavy that happened to be lying around when it was Tiger Time. In the case of our hypothetical gladiator and her fight against the tiger, I’d probably go with the following scenario:
The tiger is released  into the arena, where our gladiator has been told to fight it.


She waits for it to devour some of the other, less skilled combatants, as a belly-full of unfortunate gladiators makes for a slower, less angry tiger. Her weapon of choice would likely be a spear, since if she allows herself inside the beast’s reach, its superior strength is more than enough to overwhelm even the strongest human. Even if she can’t wound it fatally initially, repeated strikes will tire the creature out, and numerous wounds will eventually add up to significant blood loss. When the time is right, the gladiator moves in for the final, fatal blow, likely to the neck or chest, and so dies one of nature’s most beautiful and majestic creatures (also, according to Animal Planet, the world’s most popular: Tigers beat out dogs for most popular animal in a 2004 poll of more than 50,000 people).


An elephant?


image The elephant is a creature of grace and intelligence, much like Batman. And like Batman, given time to prepare, an elephant could beat anyone. So, elephant wins.


All right, so maybe that’s a little straightforward. Let’s start with a few numbers.


The largest sort of elephant, the "savanna elephant", or Loxodonta africana, can grow to nearly 13 feet at the shoulder and weigh as much as 26,000 pounds. In technical terms, that means they are really goddamn big—easily as big as your mother, if not bigger. For argument’s sake, we’re going to say that our gladiator is fighting one of these, because this is a video game so why not just go balls-out?


As the massive beast’s thunderous footfalls shake the arena, our gladiator feels something warm and wet trickle down his leg. He tells himself that it is merely sweat, but deep in his heart of hearts, he knows the truth. Still, the gladiator’s freedom, and indeed his very life, depend on his ability to triumph over this seemingly insurmountable foe, and so he charges forward, a cry of war on his lips, a sword gripped tight in his hand, and fear in his heart.


Speed is not an elephant’s strong suit, and years of experience in the arena have given the gladiator the edge in that domain. He dodges around the creature’s trunk-like legs and dives past its swinging tusks and bellowing trunk. He throws his sword against the beast’s hide with all the strength he can muster, but the skin of the elephant is like thick, grey leather, and the best he can manage are tiny scrapes. The gladiator is a trained expert, in peak physical condition, but after an hour or so of this deadly dance, the fatigue begins to show. His dives and dodges are slower, and again and again, the elephant nearly catches him on a tusk. The gladiator knows his time is nearly up, and decides that it is now or never—he will make one last, desperate attempt, and if it fails, then his death will at least bring glory to the emperor.


image He leaps away from the elephant, then charges straight for the head, his sword outstretch and pointed straight for the creature’s throat. As he draws close, time slows to a crawl, and the gladiator’s eyes meet those of the elephant. He sees no fear, no wild animal terror, but instead a cold, calculating intelligence and the undeniable smirk of victory. In the moment, he understands—it is the elephant who has been in control, not he. Every moment of the battle has moved according to the creature’s whim, and the gladiator’s last, desperate charge was as easily predicted as the tides of the Mediterranean. The beast’s mouth yawns open before him, and as the gladiator feels teeth the size of a man’s fist close on his head, a single thought passes through his mind: "I’m going to be eaten by an elephant."


Blood pours from the creature’s jaws as it bellows triumphantly to a suddenly silent arena. Only the distant sound of birds and the whisper of the wind accompany the heavy, crunching footsteps of the elephant as it walks slowly back to its berth at the edge of the arena. Once there, it turns to face the sandy, hot expanse of the colosseum, and settles down in the shade. It snorts once more, quietly, and stares out at the thousands of stunned human faces with an expression disturbingly like a smile.


(Note: Although you can fight elephants—and tigers!—in Gladiator Begins, neither of them will actually bite your head off. This is not supported by the game engine.)


Ragna: The Bloodedge?




Outlook not so good.

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