Coliseum adds a unique twist to the sports management genre: the very real possibility of death. That star gladiator with the winningest record, sure to be the talk of the town for years to come, can find their career literally cut short in the blink of an eye. Combine this threat of death and dismemberment with a fairly good sports simulator engine, and Coliseum becomes a decent, but not terribly exciting, time-killer for sports-manager-simulation fans.
Coliseum is essentially a text-based management sim. There are no flashy graphics or fast-paced gladiatorial combats here, just number crunching management of a team of three warriors out to prove themselves in the Arena. The entire thing could be played out on a spreadsheet, in all honesty. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but players wanting exciting, pulse-pounding gladiatorial action need to look elsewhere.
The game begins with the creation of the manager himself, which is accomplished by the rolling of a few stats. Once this is done, a team of three wet-behind-the-ears gladiators is assembled, and the season kicks off. A season consists of 40 battles (shorter seasons are available with the patch), followed by a championship for the top-ranked gladiators. For each fight, there is plenty to keep a manager busy. First, players must decide which of the three fighters is best suited for the particular battle. Should you send in your all-star or give him a bit of a break? Do you try to focus on the career of just one of your fighters, or do you give each a chance at glory? Only using one fighter for the entire season could greatly increase their record, but you run the risk of having a dead champion and two pitifully-ranked fighters on the day before the championship. In addition to the risk of fighters dropping dead in the heat of battle, there is also the very real possibility of a champion receiving a dreadful injury or disease. They can still fight in these wounded or diseased conditions, but they won’t be at full potential.
In addition to just choosing which fighter to send into battle, players also have a host of other duties. Training schedules can be set up for the sidelined warriors, advertising and publicity must be managed, and side-bets can be placed on the other battles taking place in the Arena. Warriors can be auctioned off to the highest bidder, and free agents can be hired on. Players can even buy enchantments and performance-enhancing potions for their fighters, although these cannot be used without risks to the health of their gladiators. There’s quite a bit to do every day, and finding the proper balance is actually something of a challenge.
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