Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Spartan: Total Warrior

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Electronic Theatre Image         With box-office hits such as Gladiator and Lord of the Rings, it is quite clear that the masses love a good epic. One of the pulling points of these films is the fact that you are guaranteed at least one big fight. In fact, as Lord Of The Rings: Return of the King showed, the bigger the better. With a lot of these battles being created using CGI, you would think it would be only a matter of time before this kind of battle was recreated as a videogame. Creative Assembly, developers of the top selling Total War series on PC, have perfected the art of bringing huge battles to life as a strategy game. In fact, they are so proficient at this, that the engine from Rome: Total War was used for the BBC series Time Commanders. So, with the success of their current series confirmed, Creative Assembly have decided to break into the console market with an Arcade style Hack-N’-Slash based around their trademark epic battles. The end result of this is the multi-format release; Spartan: Total Warrior. Spartan: Total Warrior follows the basic Hack-N’-Slash system used in a number of Electronic Theatre Imagegames such as The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and God Of War. In this title you take control of the Spartan, an unnamed Spartan Warrior who is on a mission to rid ancient Greece of the invading Roman Empire. The game starts with Sparta under siege from thousands of soldiers and a huge Iron Man. This Iron Man is the first of many nods to the classic film Jason and the Argonauts, in fact this is not the only time you will find references to epic films set around this era. Armed with a sword, shield and bow and backed up by a few squads of Spartans, it looks like your going to kick some ass. However, as soon as you charge into combat it becomes apparent that this is not a game where mashing the buttons is going to work; all enemies can block your attacks – and they do, at every opportunity, making the game a lot more complicated than the usual Hack-N’-Slash as well as making it a lot harder. This effectively makes the game more realistic, as you are man, not an unstoppable war machine; at least, not yet anyway. The difficultly is further increased by the fact that Creative Assembly are very Electronic Theatre Image keen to show off the impressive capabilities of their console developed engine. Expect have to fight literally hundreds of troops at the same time, each with a different method of attack and all wanting Spartan blood. As daunting as difficulty of the game may be, you wouldn’t be a Spartan unless you were hardcore! The Spartan has a range of attacks available based on the weapon he is using at the time, with pressing the A button causing the Spartan to strike one enemy and B to strike many. He also has the ability to block all attacks and you will find that blocking and picking your time to strike is essential to winning battles. Scoring hits on enemies causes the Spartan’s rage bar to increase and once this is past a certain level the Spartan can unleash an especially powerful version of the standard attacks which tends to cause the mass decapitation of enemy troops. The Spartan also has access to magical powers – once again – based on the weapon he is using. These again can used to damage large numbers of troops or take out a specific foe. Using magical powers requires you to fill Mana Bars by collecting Souls, either from Shrines or by killing enemies and, as the game progresses; you will gain up to three Mana Bars allowing you to cause some serious destruction. Spartan: Total Warrior also includes limited role-play elements; on completing a Level you are given several Tokens, known as the Favour Of The Gods, with which to upgrade your health, damage and magic power. Once all of these are filled you advance to the next level and are given a new set of Armour to wear. This system is less than extensive as there are only three levels and you will always reach maximum power by Level Twelve. For the number of enemies on Electronic Theatre Image the screen, which can be upward of one hundred and fifty, the graphics are very good and there is no slow-down whatsoever, however, the loading times are more than disgusting. Although it’s clear the title has been developed for the PlayStation2 and ported to the GameCube and Xbox, it remains inexcusable to have such an extensive load on a system that often benefits from having seamless loading. All models are richly detailed and Cut-Scenes use in-game graphics and do not suffer for it. The lighting on some Levels, especially in the dungeon type Levels is top notch and at times you will forget that this is a console title. The Level design is also very good, the castle sieges are especially epic and the tasks you must perform are quite diverse. Puzzles involving the use of Fire Arrows to blow up explosive crates are overused slightly but this can be forgiven. Boss battles are varied from battling a human adversary to several mythological creatures. One of the outstanding features of this product is the sound. Every slice of your sword is accompanied by an especially visceral sound effect and kickingElectronic Theatre Image a legionary of a building will cause him to wail convincingly. The music is also brilliant, imagine a cross between the Gladiator Soundtrack and The Prodigy and you are pretty close. Thumping bass lines and choir voices combine to really immerse you in the game. It’s very likely that you will die with regularity for the majority of this game, make no mistake about it, this game is hard. The learning curve is very steep and only through perseverance will you make it through to the Final Boss. The difficulty barrier may discourage the casual gamer, but if you are looking for a challenge then this game is ideal. The Story Mode consists of fourteen Levels based over three Acts with each Level theoretically taking between twenty and forty minutes to complete. The reality is that the difficulty of the game means that Levels can take several hours to complete. The other mode is Arena; in which you must fight your way through ten waves of increasingly harder enemies to attain a high score. Extra arenas can be unlocked by playing through the Story Mode. Throughout Story Mode you will find Chests which contain parts of Archimedes Diary and Spartan Helms. Archimedes Dairy Pages unlock Concept Art and Spartan Helms allow access to extra objects in Arena Mode such as Health Shrines and allied Bowmen. Electronic Theatre Image Even with these features there isn’t a great deal of replayability as you’ll find a lot of the secrets on your first time through.

Despite this games difficulty, it is still a lot of fun. It is clear that the developers paid a lot of attention to making this game feel as much like an epic film as they could, and in that capacity this game is spot on. There are loads of memorable moments such as charging in formation with your brethren before crashing into the enemy line or fighting your way round the ramparts of a castle kicking Romans off the side in true swashbuckling style, launching arrows into advancing troops and narrowly avoiding incoming fire. It is obvious that comparisons will be made with God of War on the PlayStation2 but the game is not a similar as you may think. Where God of War has extensive puzzle elements, you will not find yourself pushing blocks around in Spartan: Total Warrior. This game is all about the fighting and the only real puzzles you will find are how to defeat the Bosses. However, Spartan: Total Warrior is not without its flaws. Reaching a Checkpoint with low health can make the following battle literally impossible and may force the player to restart the Level; not something you will want to do if you have been battling for an hour. Also, changing the Camera angle while moving can cause the Spartan to become locked in the direction he is facing. Nevertheless, if you are a fan of Hack-N’- Slash titles you will find that Spartan: Total Warrior is one of the best available.Electronic Theatre Image










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