Hero of Sparta II


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Hero of Sparta 2 Launching Tomorrow?

If our eyes aren’t deceiving us, the countdown timer on Gameloft’s official Hero of Sparta website seems to indicate that Hero of Sparta 2 is set to launch tomorrow.

We came away impressed after our hands-on time with the game a couple months ago, so we are anxious to try out the final version. While you endure the wait for some mythological creature-slashing goodness on your iPhone and iPad, check out our hands-on gameplay video and the official trailer.

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Hero of Sparta II Review

Like many other Gameloft mega-hits, Hero of Sparta II has more than a few traits in common with a big-name console franchise. Just like in God of War, you play as a blood-frenzied Spartan whose ongoing feud with the gods forces him to face mythological beasts and colossal bosses. Hero of Sparta II is probably the closest we’ll get to a real God of War game on the iPhone.

God of War’s incredible quality is difficult to match, but Hero of Sparta II puts up a good fight. The story is almost completely forgettable, but the important thing is that your hero Argos ends up traveling to several interesting and beautiful-looking environments. The most impressive of these is a rocky mountain area, where sphinx statues from The Neverending Story will shoot laser beams at you from their eyes.

Stickin’ it to the man.

You’re swung pendulum-like between action sequences, where you have to brutally hack apart creatures like minotaurs and blue-skinned warriors (perhaps left over from Gameloft’s Avatar game), and simple environmental puzzles. Puzzles never get more complicated than hitting an action button and performing a quick series of alternating taps on the screen, but the combat is much more satisfying.

Instead of cluttering the screen with multiple buttons for different attacks, Gameloft has come up with an ingenious workaround. One attack button handles all your moves, but you can slide it up, down, or to the side to perform smashes and launch enemies into the air.

You’ll also gain a total of five different weapons along the way, and though we preferred our trusty sword most of the time, it’s fun to experiment with weapons like the razor-sharp Icarus wings or double-bladed spear. You’ll even find a pair of tethered boxing gloves that would make Kratos feel right at home.

Quit with the waterworks, would ya?

It may not be fair to expect boss fights on the same level as God of War’s, but in Hero of Sparta II they tend to be downright anticlimactic. One Pegasus-back escape from a water elemental feels more like Canabalt than God of War. You’ll rarely fight bosses yourselves, as many are dispatched in cutscenes.

When you compare it to just about any other action game on the iPhone, Hero of Sparta II is a marvel. It looks absolutely stunning, and ran smoothly on our third-generation iPod Touch. The action is continually varied, and you’ll almost never perform the same platforming or puzzle task twice. There’s even an endless Arena level accessible as a departure from the main adventure, if you just want to chain together combos and upgrade your weapons.

It’s great to see the iPhone handle a cinematic action game like Hero of Sparta II, and Gameloft’s dedication to polish and sheen is immediately apparent. This ambitious title makes great use of the iDevice hardware, and will keep you playing happily until the end.

Hero of Sparta II Released

Hero of Sparta II– the sequel to the hugely popular original, the homage to (or rip-off of) the God of War series, the game in which you make gods and mythical creatures kneel before your almighty power– has been released on the App Store. It costs $6.99, and you can check it out on iTunes here.

While we eviscerate our way through the game for our review, be sure to look at our preview coverage of the game, including screenshots, trailers, and a bloody hands-on video. Speaking of screenshots, here are the new ones they submitted to Apple.

Hero of Sparta 2 Hands-On Preview

We finally got a chance to play Hero of Sparta 2, and we can report that it’s looking very close to finished. The graphics are much improved over the first, and actually seem to look better than other recent Gameloft titles.

It’s also optimized for the 3GS, so playing it on that device will take advantage of its more powerful graphical abilities. The game should run smoothly on older devices too, however.

The game tells the story of King Argos returning to Sparta after a long journey from Hell. But just when he thinks he can settle down, Hades curses the Spartan people as punishment for Argos’ arrogance, and it’s up to the king to set things right again.

For the most part, like the first one, this is a hack-‘n-slash game, so we spent most of our time bringing hurt to vicious mythical creatures. The game includes five different weapons: a sword; claws (or blades on ropes); wings that let you glide as you jump, as well as slice enemies; a lightning spear; and a meteor crown, which summons a rain of flaming rocks from the sky. Each weapon is upgradeable, with powers you can unlock as you play. Like in the God of War series, the action has a good flow to it, so taking on crowds of baddies feels fluid.

On the left is a traditional D-pad is on the left, and on the right is an attack button, a jump button, and a duck button. The attack button is used in a rather unique way, however. You can tap it for a regular attack or hold it down for a magic attack. But if you drag it up, down, left, or right, you’ll slice in that direction, and they come in useful in different situations. Pound a shield-bearing enemy with a downward strike, and you’ll break its shield. Swipe sideways when facing several enemies to hit them all at once.

Some enemies can also be killed with unique special attacks. Once these bad guys’ health gets low, a skull icon appears on the screen that initiates a brutal takedown when tapped. We only used it once, but when we did, the camera zoomed in, he grabbed the enemy, and stabbed it repeatedly through the middle, spraying blood all over the place.

We also encountered some quick-time events that we had to complete to open heavy gates and move statues. Small circles appear on either side of the screen, and you must tap them repeatedly as they move up or down the screen.

According to Gameloft, the game will contain 12 levels and take about five hours to beat. A survival mode that sends waves of enemies at you will also be included, along with an extreme difficulty mode.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get any screenshots of the game, but we’ll post them as soon as they’re released.

The only release date we could wring out of Gameloft was “soon.” The game looks nearly finished, so we expect it to launch in the coming weeks.

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