Hero of Sparta 2 Hands-On Preview

We’ve updated our preview with hands-on gameplay footage from Paris! Check out Hero of Sparta 2 running in action after the jump.

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.