Russell Crowe might have fought tigers, Carthaginians, and Joaquin Phoenix during his time in the gladiatorial arena, but he didn't have to fight Achilles, Hannibal, or Spartacus.

That's the history-defying task ahead of you in Glorious Maximus, a decidedly silly take on one of the Roman Empire's less pleasant pastimes.

Glorious Maximus asks you to pick your warrior from a motley crew of ancient figures and stereotypes, equip them with a suitably pointy (or blunt) weapon, and send them into one-on-one combat with another equally formidable warrior.

Scrappy

Combat is a very simplistic affair. You have a 'block' button and an 'attack' button, and both moves will drain your stamina meter when performed in isolation.

A successful block will refill your stamina meter, however, while landing an attack will force your opponent back. The extent of this depends on the power of your weapon and your opponent's ability to absorb such attacks.

Get your opponent to the edge of the screen and you'll be able to deliver a killing blow - which is usually preceded by crippling limb amputation.

Nothing to Crowe about

It's not anything like as grizzly as it sounds, thanks to a very basic cartoon art style and a tone that could be described as tongue-in-cheek.

This is perfectly illustrated by the chunks of meat and rocks that are hurled your way from time to time, requiring a somewhat unreliable swipe of the screen to intercept.

Unfortunately, that blunting of the tone also applies to Glorious Maximus's gameplay. Combat is a one-dimensional chore, a poorly defined war of attrition that sees success or failure seemingly determined by a mixture of timing, luck, aggressiveness, and the relative stats of the combatants.

After numerous bouts, I'm still not sure what the precise ratio of those components is. It all feels decidedly woolly and slap-dash.

To end as we began - on a Gladiator reference - Glorious Maximus aims for Maximus-like clinical lethality, but ends up as a bit of a Commodus - all empty pageantry with none of the combat smarts to back it up.