Updated: Sparta: Lords of War Review

In our initial review of Sparta: Lords of War, we stated that the game felt incomplete due to its lack of depth. While update 1.3 definitely turned both of these flaws in the right direction, it was unfortunately poorly implemented and bug-ridden.

Let’s look at all of the notable improvements that the game has undergone. One of the most apparent is stylized environments for each level to go along with their enemies. For example, peasants are fought off in a poor village while barbarians are massacred as you stampede through a forest, and Persians are laid to waste alongside an ocean filled with war ships. Everything is done in the same hand-drawn style as before and rendered beautifully.

In the days of Sparta, money was hard to come by for a hard-working warrior. Luckily for you, there is a sale going on at your local blacksmith shop! A new gold system allows players to use money gained through killing enemies to buy and upgrade their equipment and health-regeneration potions. Armor upgrades are the same as before, but swords now come in three different styles: fast but weak, slow but strong, and another in-between. Unfortunately, these tend to be unbalanced and there is no way to switch between them after they’re bought, an issue we also encountered with Crazy Penguin Catapult 2. This oversight is not acceptable in any game and easily ruins a good feature.

Another major bug we found in the new build was that the controls have become much less responsive. We often found ourselves trying to touch a button, only to have it freeze up on us until we hit something else. This lead to us dying time and time again from an inability to quickly slash through an enemy or block an arrow from penetrating our skull. Speaking of archers, apparently during the times of Sparta they were ghosts! There were occasions when an arrow would come flying towards our back from off-screen, leaving us totally helpless.

Sparta’s recent update brings features with great potential to the forefront, but until the game’s major flaws are addressed and much-needed features such as online leaderboards (you can get them for free, for crying out loud!) are added, we are still not able to recommend this game.

The concept of “Sparta” makes money–just see Gameloft’s Hero of Sparta and Warner Bros.’ 2007 film, ’300.’ Sparta: Lords of War plays off of this trend, and it does a reasonable job capturing the spirit of the theme. But despite its unique art style and polish, it still feels incomplete.

This! Is! Sparta! (lite)

There just isn’t enough content and depth to keep a player satisfied. Fighting off archers and soldiers with your Spartan, it’s about as basic a linear hack-and-slash, side scroller as there is. Though armor is upgradebale between rounds, your Spartan’s arsenal is limited to a single sword. It’s a far cry from the tactical and customizable gameplay that is key to similar games on the platform, such as Zombieville USA. There is also an option to kick the enemies to stun them, but this is rendered useless due to its extremely short range.

Even with these issues, Sparta: Lords of War does some things right. Its hand-drawn sprites and workable controls make it easy to play. The addition of a shield to block attacks added an interesting twist to the side scroller, hack-and-slash formula.

But with such limited scope, limited variation between levels and the omission of online scoring, there is no incentive to replay the game, which is key for pick-up-and-play games like this.

In its current state, even the biggest fans of the genre should take caution before considering this title.

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