Marcus Aurelius Antoninus is the emperor of Rome, and he is seeking a successor. His son Commodus and General Cassius each want the honor of being emporer of Rome. They feud and put the lives of gladiators on the line in order to decide the successor.
Gladiator Begins plays like an action role playing game. You create your own gladiator and fight in the Colosseum against other gladiators, slaves, nobles and animals. Its environments may change from the colosseum setting, but you never leave the action.
In between matches you can upgrade your character by learning new skills, the
efficiency of these skills are leveled up the more you use them in the fighting sequences. You can also assign attribute points to your character improving their strength and endurance etc. Any special attacks that you learn can be mapped to the face buttons.
It is also possible to increase your ability to wield the several different weapon types:
- Weapon & Small Shield
- Weapon & Large Shield
- Hand to Hand
- Dual wielding weapons
The game also uses an endurance system, which determines your characters fatigue on the battlefield. As certain attacks are used your gladiators endurance will decrease and will ultimately leave you tired and vulnerable to your enemies if you are not careful. The player has a Rage bar, that once full can be used to initiate a special mode in which a player can unleash a barrage of special attacks without suffering the loss of fatigue.
The player will generally start matches without a weapon, but there are weapons lying on the battlefield available to pick up. You can also force other gladiators to drop their weapons for you to use against them. You can block, parry, counter attack and dodge your enemies, however some attacks are unblockable and may knock off a piece of armor or even disarm you, this applies to both you and your enemies.
There are 5 different patrons to which you can devote your allegiance, each having their own unique story paths to follow.
The game first gathered a lot of interest at the Tokyo gameshow in 2009, due to their promotional model, dressed in in a roman-esque bikini whilst wearing an oversized gladiator helmet and armed with a dagger.
The stunt gathered so much attention the model would later appear on an alternate game cover, and later feature as a downloadable-character in the release.