Essentially, the game is very simple: two gladiators inhabit a small ring and fight each other until one dies. Each gladiator will be armed with their own individual sets of weapons, though in this demo, we were only shown one fighter. He was armed with a gladius and small shield, making him quite mobile and deadly, though the fact that he fought himself kept things balanced.
Each fight itself was fairly brief, as it only took a couple of well-placed hits before the enemy was stripped of shield, sword, and, eventually, life. And the killing blow itself is very violent; the gore of the gladiators was recreated to great effect in Gladiator A.D. and there were even a few nods to the hit movie starring Russel Crowe.
While engaged in combat, there were the requisite combos, but on top of that, we also witnessed some charge maneuvers that slowed down time briefly and dealt much more damage than the normal melee combat. Again, the 300 theme is very much recognizable here, as High Voltage did a good job of making these moves look just like this scene.
And visually, the game was surprisingly polished considering it was such an early build. The textures on each fighter, especially their equipment, were really surprising. The sparks from metal-to-metal contact were excellent, and the damage to each of the player models as the fight progressed also looked good, though we will say that the backdrops were fairly generic. Again, this was an early build, and there were only two stages available, but we hope these two stages weren't the final versions. Lack of detail in the fight's surroundings -- including the folks watching, who looked rather blocky and were animated poorly -- was enough to take us out of the experience.
For a very early demo, Gladiator A.D. looked fairly promising, and High Voltage said they plan to incorporate online capabilities to the multiplayer side of the game. This gives us hope that the title could have some lasting replay value, as it's a pretty necessary thing for fighting games nowadays to keep the player interested over a longer period of time.