The stealth bits, occasionally involving some talking (the always exciting juxtaposition of 'noise' over 'quiet') are just not much fun. Compared to MGS3 or Splinter Cell, even Sly Raccoon, they seem disappointingly primitive and with generally straight-forward, linear solutions to your progression, they don't offer a great deal of satisfaction. To be fair, Shadow of Rome would be less good if it didn't have these levels breaking up the more obviously gratifying gladiatorial carnage (which would become very repetitive otherwise); but it would have been so much better if they'd been a bit more thoughtfully constructed. And the sentries are chumps too, which really doesn?t help in a stealth game. AI is key to making hide?n?seek work, and here it doesn?t fit. You can generally just run out of the guards? sight, and eureka (Latin for ?bingo!?), the whole panic?s off, the whole thing?s forgotten. It?s just not convincing.
That said, stealth gaming is something that requires a considerable amount of patience, and it can be rather an acquired taste. Considering that many people who pick up Shadow of Rome will be doing so for the immediate thrills of the blood-letting, perhaps it?s better that Octavianus' levels are stealth-lite. You don?t need to be pedantically careful to get through them, and they do give way to some nice plot unfurling and cut-scenes, so they are also tolerable to more discerning palettes. But it does highlight the way that Shadow of Rome seems to have been more obviously conceived as something for casual gamers.
Shadow of Rome won?t win any awards for new ideas or superlative execution, but it does stand out as something that less fussy gamers might enjoy as an experience. It lasts a good 20 hours, meaning decent value, has a variety of gameplay styles, over-the-top fighting and silly bits to show off to your mates. The sort of people who buy games just by looking at the box may pick this up and love it. If you just want a new videogame with Romans in it, this is just the ticket. But those sorts of people, dare we say, stupid people, are not SPOnG people. Clearly you?re expecting excellence in gaming.