Hero of Sparta might not be able to emulate the Hollywood blockbuster 300 but by my reckoning it isn’t too far off (hence the 299). Hero of Sparta is like a cross between Streets of Rage and Tomb Raider. Your job is guide a Spartan hero through a 3D world of mythical beasts and demons, all of which have been sent to slice you into tiny pieces. The intermittent movie sequences and 3D world give the game its Tomb Raider feel and the developers have produced a world that well constructed with many realistic features. The flowing water and flags blowing in the breeze are a testament to the attention to detail and work that have gone into the graphics.
However, the majority of the gaming environment isn’t accessible and your character is only capable of walking predefined paths much like the old 2D platform beat ‘em up games. In one sense this is a saving grace because although manipulating your character’s movements is simple enough it would be a nightmare trying to avoid falling off every ledge and cliff face. Not being able to fully explore the full terrain though does leave the game lacking a little and at times it does feel like a glorified 2D platform game with a fancy background. The fight controls are simple and the special “focus” attacks allow you to kill larger creatures with ease.
There are three difficulty settings: easy, normal and heroic (only available after completing the game once) and players can choose to set the action levels to soft or explicit. For those players who aren’t keen on seeing a few barely noticeable drops of claret spray from their enemies then opt for the soft mode but if you can stomach “uncensored gore” (more than a little hint of sarcasm there) then leave it on explicit mode.
Hidden items and weapon upgrades give the game a sense of progression and with each end boss having to be killed with a special sequence there is enough to keep even the most serious gamers occupied. Hero of Sparta is definitely a battery killer, once you start playing you’ll want to keep piling up the demonic bodies until you reach the final quest. Whether the game can survive past one or two completions is a matter of opinion but my thoughts are that while it stays fresh it is a top game; after that it will likely become part of your gaming history.