Spartan Total Warrior PlayStation 2
Published by SEGA
Developed by Creative Assembly
Release Date: Out Now
Spartan Total Warrior, an introduction.
The Creative Assembly have created one of the finest PC strategy series we've seen to date with the Total War games. Shogun, Medieval and Rome Total War have all been excellent and genuinely deserved to be called classics. It's a bit of departure then for these skilled strategy game developers to turn their hands to a console action game.
What's the game about?
The Romans are intent on conquering Greece but when they come to conquer Sparta, things don't turn out as planned. You'll play as a mighty Spartan warrior who is part of an army charged with repelling the Roman army from Sparta who, at the beginning of the first mission, are encircling the city walls. It looks like an impossible task but just before the battle begins, the warrior who you'll play as receives a message from Ares, the God of War, saying that he will aid you in your defence of Sparta providing you give him the vengeance he desires.
What's good about the game?
Those who love great hack 'n' slash action games will simply love Spartan Total Warrior. The game has 3 difficulty levels but even on the easiest of these levels victory is far from being a formality. This isn't just a game where you pick up your sword and simply hack your way through hundreds of onrushing enemies. Essentially you'll have set goals in a mission such as defend the main gates or take out a certain enemy. Some missions will require other tasks though and it's great to see such variation in a game of this nature. Whilst there is plenty of combat in the game you couldn't really say it's just a button-basher. In fact there are times when you'll have to use your brain and not just wildly attack your enemy. The game has plenty of situations that can prove difficult and just waltzing into the enemy without some kind of strategy can often prove fatal.
When it comes to fighting you'll find that the combat model is a solid one and your character has a direct attack (X button) and a radial attack (circle button) that performs a sweeping attack that can take out numerous enemies in one go. Holding down the L1 button enables you to draw your bow. When using the bow the X button performs a single arrow shot whilst the circle button will fire several arrows in one go. If you want to you can also use your shield to batter enemies with and this is a useful move for getting enemies to lower their shield. Magic attacks can also be used and they are actually very strong attacks but thankfully you can't overuse them as they take a lot of mana to use. You'll also have access to powerful rage attacks (once your rage meter is full), which can really make light work of enemies. You even get to use siege weapons, such as the ballista but you won't have access to these at all times. During the game you'll perform a variety of context sensitive actions and these are handled by using the square button. On completing a mission you'll be awarded tokens that can be used to improve you character's health and damage ratings. Eventually you'll gain better weapons and armour. The whole thing works really well and it's hard to believe that Creative Assembly haven't been making games of this nature for years.
What's not so good about the game?
The usual issue of the game camera rears its ugly head once more in Spartan Total Warrior. Don't get me wrong the camera isn't that bad by any means but there are moments where the view is a little awkward. The method for targeting enemies for the most part works well but it could use some refinement. It's also possible to end up in a boss fight with a small amount of health, which can prove tricky and slightly irritating. Like most games of this nature it can become slightly repetitive. That said though it's not as repetitive as a lot of games in this genre. Some might also find the game a little short. You're probably looking at around 12-14 hours for the first play through but to be honest there's nothing here that could be called filler and the action manages to maintain a set level of quality throughout.
How does it look?
The game looks very good and it's impressive to see the level of detail on offer with so many characters onscreen. Special credit has to be given to Creative Assembly for how well the game engine performs. The game has been released on the Xbox, GameCube and PlayStation 2. In theory the PlayStation 2 version should be the weakest of the three but the game looks very good and we have only experienced a few dips in the frame rate but for 99% of the time, even when there are masses of units onscreen, everything remained wonderfully smooth which is very impressive. From the many action games we've played on all current consoles I can't honestly remember seeing so many enemies onscreen. Of course having masses of enemies to deal with adds to the epic nature of the game but you'll be genuinely impressed with how detailed the character models and environments are.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
I was impressed with the amount of text information in Spartan Total Warrior. Subtitles can be enabled and you'll be able to enjoy the game's cutscenes which is excellent. Introductions to the game's chapters are in text. Objectives are in text and you are notified in text when new objectives have been issued. Pressing the start button mid-mission will allow you to recall your current objectives and any optional objectives that you may have. There could do with being more detail about these objectives when you recall them. Any buildings or items that you have to protect will have a health bar that will show you how damaged it is so you're always aware of how you are doing. Any dialogue that issues commands during a mission (you might be verbally told a gate that you should be protecting is under attack for instance) is shown in text too. You can save the game at any time but it will only record your progress to the last checkpoint. Some objectives are time limited and when these objectives occur you'll see the time remaining display onscreen. During a battle there are comments from Ares which are not subtitled but to be honest their absence is no loss. When you reach a checkpoint you are notified in text. All this adds up to a great experience for deaf gamers and allows you to enjoy the game in all its glory.
It's difficult to believe that this is Creative Assembly's first console game. Spartan Total Warrior does a heck of a lot right and proves to be very entertaining. Sure it could have been improved in a few minor ways but the look of the game, the combat and the epic nature of the battles and boss fights all add up to a game of real quality.
Overall Game Rating: 8.2/10
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Spartan Total Warrior is a great game that hack 'n' slash action game fans should definitely pick up. In some areas the game could have been better but on the whole it's a great game.