Spartan: Total Warrior
In the epic style of
"Gladiator" and "Braveheart" you, as a bloodthirsty Spartan warrior,
lead the charge with no fear or remorse headlong into massive cinematic
battles where your only options are victory or death. Developed by The
Creative Assembly, the team behind the award-winning Total War PC
series, Spartan drops all pretensions of being a high-minded educational
strategy game and goes for the jugular with buckets of blood and a
simple to pick up combat system that relies heavily on defense.
Spartan: Total Warrior is an action/strategy game that gives players a
multitude of assignments and additional objectives that must be
completed during the battle. First the game tells you to protect the
king Ė then it tells you to stop the gate from being breached. This is a
two-for-one scenario. The mission cannot be completed unless the king
and the gate are still standing by the time all the Romans have been
taken out. Although the screenshots may look like a traditional hack 'n'
slash game, Spartan is in actual fact a strategic fighter that gamers
must use wit and brawn to successfully finish.
The control system of Spartan is rather intuitive so that anyone can
pick up a pad and dive in but the emphasis on defense in Spartan makes
things quite challenging and really exciting when you get things right.
The Spartan can use his shield to block, counter and bash foes back for
a combo set up or down for a killing blow. In missions where heís
shield-less, youíll need to use whichever weapon heís got equipped to
block and counter. I canít stress the emphasis on blocking here enough
as the AI in Spartan: Total Warrior is full of enemies who block, flip
or roll out of the way, or dodge and counter blows with ease.
Even on Easy mode, if you just jump into a crowd of enemies and start
swinging, youíll be cut down within seconds. Fortunately, Spartan can
unleash a number of special attacks that consume magic orbs he collects
from defeated enemies or prayer shrines scattered around the levels.
There are also healing shrines, but youíll need to make sure any nearby
foes are deceased before you kneel. The action doesnít pause during
these brief moments, so youíll get hacked in the back while youíre
trying to get that health back.
Visually, Spartan: Total Warrior looks mostly great. The character
models are definitely styled after Grecian art and thereís a nice touch
of comic-book artistry in the angular figures. There are a few pointy
heads and other elements that more picky purists will flip out over, but
I "got" the design decision as soon as i saw the first set of
screenshots over a year ago. The Spartan actually changes equipment and
even grows a beard as the game progresses. The great thing is that the
animation is quite smooth and the frame rate doesnít dip all that much
below 60 fps except on rare occasions.
The musical score for Spartan: Total Warrior is an interesting blend of
orchestral theme music with some modern instrumental concessions. Itís
not as jarring as the hard rock in games like the Kingdom Under Fire or
Dynasty Warriors series, but like these titles, itís an acquired taste
if you were expecting some sort of all-orchestral soundtrack.
In conclusion, Spartan: Total Warrior delivers the goods if youíre
looking for a solid chunk of challenging action from start to finish.
Sega and The Creative Assembly have crafted a great take on the
traditional mythological tales of old and itíll be even more interesting
to see where they take the Total Warrior line in the future.