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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Game of the week: "Spartan: Total Warrior" (xbox)

This week's game of the week (yes, I know I've been a little slack lately, but come on - it's the holidays!) was a major 2005 entry from Sega into the world of beat 'em up console gaming. Combining the proven talents of Creative Assembly and Sega (America and Europe), these two (or three, if you will) gaming development companies put together this "genre defining" game - "Spartan: Total Warrior".

The game centres around one lone, Spartan warrior (you), and his shirtless and violent battle to stop the Romans conquering Sparta. Aided by various comrades-in-arms, and tasked with various dangerous, and sometimes infuriating, missions, it is your job to protect your fair city, and countryside from Roman Emperor Tiberius and his army.

Total Warrior splits gameplay between three main acts (Warrior, Hero and Legend) each of which contain four chapters. Ancient mythology, and futuristic science lend bits of their magic to the game, to produce weapons such as a laser harnessing the power of Medusa - that turns people into stone with pin point precision. With technology and powers such at this at their disposal, the Romans soon become a very tough enemy, and this translates into harder and harder gameplay throughout the course of your Spartan's life. Unfortunately, like many others before it, this game, at times, appears seemingly impossible, and gets increasingly frustrating, leading to an incomplete game.

The controls are relatively easy to master, but my only complaint is the camera. Like all third person type games (except, perhaps, the Splinter Cell franchise), the camera is very limiting and restricting when in bow and arrow mode, and sometimes you can end up shooting everything but your life or death target.

Accompanied by a loud and bassy rock soundtrack, and occasional cheers and jeers from Ares, God of War, fight scenes take on an almost surreal movie-like feel. I half expected Rocky to jump out from behind a rock with a great roar and take on the fire spitting hydra with his bare hands at one point, but he didn't. Now that would make a cool movie!

Overall, this game is for those of us who sometimes get sick of intelligent stealthy games. It's for the gamers who just want to let loose and kill stuff. Ok granted, there are no guns, but bow and arrows, exploding naptha pots, spears and giant hammers more than make up for the lack of firepower. A very very worthy game, marred only by its camera.

Graphics: 7.5/10
Controls: 8.5/10
Storyline: 7/10
Soundtrack: 9/10 (though somewhat inappropriate for an Ancient Greek war game)
Gameplay: 7.5/10

Overall: 7.9/10 - Not quite an 8, but definitely not a 7.5. Definitely a game worth buying, and playing over and over again.

Next week's game of the week will be the "Rome: Total War" expansion pack: "Barbarian Invasion" by Sega.

**thanks to teamxbox for the screenshot used in this review
*** if anyone else would like me to review a game for them, please email me at I can review PC, Xbox, and in 1.5 months, PAL xbox360 games!