Spartan Total Warrior Review


October 21, 2005 by

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The Creative Assembly certainly have a passion for delving gamers into ancient worlds controlling powerful warriors as they partake in a variety of different historical events that span throughout numerous timeframes based on a collection of different civilizations. After releasing a number of highly praised titles on the PC, the acclaimed developer has now turned their attention to the home consoles. Despite changing to a completely different system basing, Creative Assembly has maintained the same historical sword-slashing gameplay that sticks true to the Total Warrior franchise, all the while offering a range of new gameplay aspects that combine to provide a solid experience that is only downgraded by a small number of niggling problems.

Spartan: Total Warrior pits you into the heroic role of a lone Spartan soldier; capable of decimating legions of sniveling Roman soldiers with a few swings of his mighty weaponry. The proud Spartan civilization is under threat from the forceful invading Roman army, who are content with disposing of the Spartans and gaining control of their land to further expand their powerful empire. The game begins with the final walled city that is under control by the Spartans under siege by a huge Roman army. Recruiting every man within the city that is capable of controlling a weapon, the Spartan king prepares for an all-out battle as they attempt to defend their only remaining city and youre their key weapon.

The opening level of Spartan: Total Warrior involves repelling the attack from legions of Roman soldiers. The level essentially involves traveling from point-to-point around the city performing simplistic tasks to prevent the Romans from gaining access to the city. Eventually, you are led to the main gates, where a towering statue of a Roman soldier in full armor is attempting to plow through the gates. Your role is to fire catapults at correct intervals, all the while preventing Roman sappers from blowing apart the large wooden drawbridge by tipping a large bowl of boiling oil on them. In addition, you are under constant attack by Roman soldiers who are scaling the wall on ladders with the single desire to destroy the oil-filled bowl.

Once you have saved the Spartan city, you will be sent throughout various different landscape and locations, which includes battles with wild barbarians in desert surroundings through to fighting through large tombs of once mighty warriors. The gameplay essentially involves mowing through hordes of enemies at any one time. Occasionally, though, there are points in which you are required to perform slightly different actions, such as sneaking into a tightly-guarded Roman camp to retrieve legendary swords, or playing the role of a body guard as you protect a prominent figure of the Sparta empire. Its a satisfying mixture that, for a largely button-mashing affair, offers a reasonable amount of variety that compliments the solid storyline to keep you interested through to the games conclusion.

Spartan: Total Warriors story campgin mode involves progressing through a series of chapters that range from 20 through to 50 minutes in length. Each of these chapters contain both essential and optional missions, which are issued to you as you progress through the chapter. Although the optional missions are not essential to complete the chapter, there are occasions when these missions can make the overall chapter slightly easier when completed, or allow you to cause some satisfying destruction and annoyance to the Roman army.

As you progress through the single player story mode, you will receive medals based on your performance during a chapter. As you build up the number of medals that you obtain, your level of skill, health, power, weaponry and armor will increase appropriately, until you finally reach the status of Legend. When you first begin the game, you are equipped with a basic sword and shield, with virtually no body armor. As you progress, however, you gradually build the quality and complexity of the armor that you show, which not only looks impressive but also prevents you from receiving considerable damage from the more advanced enemies that you will encounter towards the end of the game.

The Creative Assemblys knowledge and experience of throwing a large number of fully animated characters onto the screen at any single moment shines in Spartan: Total Warrior. You will often find yourself spending large segments of your quest battling through seemingly endless hordes of Roman soldiers. The implementation of a simple button-mashing fighting system allows you to often mow through these legions with relative ease, with the regular appearance of health pickups and shrines allowing you to replenish any health before you proceed onto the next daunting battle. The basic Roman soldier is quite simple to defeat, requiring only a couple slashes from your bloodied weapon to drop their lifeless body to the ground. There are a small number of more advanced enemies, however, who offer more of a challenge, as their defensive maneuvers require you to spend slightly more time breaking their defenses to issue damaging blows. The inclusion of a rage system, which can be obtained by dealing a number of effective blows to enemies, allows you to issue a forceful blow that can quickly defeat multiple enemies with a single blow, allowing you to move through groups of enemies at a faster and more effective pace.

In addition to the story campaign mode, there is also the Arena Challenge Mode available for play. This mode is essentially based off the classic Roman Colosseum event, requiring you to battle ever-growing groups of enemies in subsequent heats. The aim is to kill as many enemies as possible while remaining alive. Throughout the course of the story campaign mode, you can unlock additional extras and further arenas that can be used in the Arena Challenge Mode, which range from allied soldiers through to helpful items and pickups.

Although the camera can occasional become frustratingly problematic, the only major problem that we experienced in Spartan: Total Warrior was a major glitch that seriously ruined a boss battle. The glitch involved making the battle impossible to win, as the result of performing a simple action was not executed correctly. To save from including any spoilers, we wont go into detail on what the boss battle involved or what you are actually fighting. To complete that battle, we were required to reset our console and start again to enter the battle without the annoying glitch.

Visually, Spartan: Total Warrior manages to provide a satisfying experience. While the environments could do with further detail, the animation of the characters in-game is certainly pleasing. During cinematics, the only disappointing aspect of the game is the characters faces, which often look extremely bland and offer limited animation.

Veterans of previous Total War games will instantly identify the games soundtrack, which offer a satisfying mixture of orchestra music that perfectly fits the games era and subject. Voice acting is also quite impressive, with each character that you meet offering emotion-filled voices the perfectly suit the characters appearance and personality.

While Spartan: Total Warrior is certainly a solid experience that will please almost any fan of previous Total War games or those who enjoying slaying enemies with medieval weaponry, a few small problems prevent the game from receiving a high score. The most noticeable of these problems is the large boss battle glitch that prevents you from completing the mission on occasions, a rather shallow combat system that becomes tiring half-way through the game. We did gain a reasonable level of enjoyment from Spartan: Total Warrior, and anticipate any subsequent titles that The Creative Assembly choose to create based off their Total War console entry.

Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.