Spartan: Total Warrior PS2 Review

Dynasty Warriors was an impressive showcase of the current console technology five years ago, and whilst the visuals have improved over time, it’s a series that is now beginning to look rather aged and in need of a spruce up. Now that Spartan: Total Warrior has proved to be a treat for the eyeballs, the old dog that is Dynasty Warriors is struggling to keep up with the times.

With large scale battles regularly raging on the screen, Spartan is all about impressing the player. It’s something that Dynasty Warriors has done so proudly, but Spartan picks it up and takes the concept to another level. You see, the graphics of Spartan are excellent and better than Koei’s games in every aspect, and when you throw in the spectacle of constantly swelling battles with fallen troops littering the battlefield, things become even more strikingly gorgeous.

Another difference from Dynasty Warriors is that the game requires some thought during battle. We’re not talking rocket science of course, but some enemies can’t be strictly beaten by bashing the buttons as quickly as your battered fingers will allow, as they’ll often block your attacks and require you to roll around and gain an advantageous position instead. Button bashing does play a sizeable role for the rest of the time though, which shouldn’t be a bad thing for those who just want to get straight into the thick of the action.

There’s an often valid reason for the fighting too (if you actually needed one!) as the game is objective based. There’s occasions where you’ll have to protect someone or something, whilst at other times you single handily have to rip through a Roman army or destroy a selected amount of tents to halt the onslaught of reinforcements. It does bring some variation to the repetitive action, but it’s still all about gleefully hacking your way through entire armies.

Thankfully the selection of weaponry for doing all that hacking is extremely satisfying to use. Dual swords, spears, axes and shields appear throughout the game for your use, with a slaying of a boss often earning you one of these new battle trophies. The weapons grow in power with each kill you earn and when the on-screen bar is full you can unleash devastating rage attacks, which make bodies fall quicker as well as in ample number.

The weapons each have their own magical attacks as well, which means your Spartan character is always well equipped for anything that dares stand in his way. All the magic is fantastic fun to use, ranging from turning enemies to stone to a powerful downward swing of an axe to knock entire army units skyward. The Roman’s keep coming back though, the persistent fools that they are.

The controls are brilliantly simple, which makes controlling the Spartan a delight opposed to a chore. Whether we were using our rage or magical attacks, we never found ourselves fumbling for the correct button presses. This simplicity is always a plus point for a game that presents enemies in massive waves; therefore it’s a simple case of leaving your brain on ice as far as the controls are concerned.

The obligatory RPG elements also make their presence felt in-between levels, and give you free reign to upgrade the Spartan’s attack strength, magic and health bar. You’ll even see the Spartan transform from an ordinary swordsman into a fully-fledged warrior, complete with fitting golden armour eventually.

An Arena Challenge mode lies in wait for those who are confident of their hacking and slashing skills. The enemies appear in relentless waves, therefore getting on the points board isn’t a simple thing to achieve. To aid you, the developers have cleverly placed helpful resources for you to find on the Spartan’s quest, in which you can then make use of in the Arena Challenge mode. This means that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a one man army against endless hoards of enemies as you can find additional troops and monsters to add to the battle and help dish out the damage as well as power shrines to assist you in staying alive that little bit longer etc.

To think that the Creative Assembly were behind many hardcore strategy games on the PC isn’t an easy task after playing the more action orientated Spartan: Total Warrior. The amount of strategy on display here is virtually nil, as it’s all about units fighting independently, and minus any command controls intruding on the solid action. This action does get a little repetitive at times, but it has to be said that things are mostly stunning for the development teams console debut.