Hero of Sparta
This may be Sparta, but it's no God of War.
In some respects, Gameloft's Hero of Sparta is the iPhone's most impressive video game, thanks to a phenomenal visual and audio package that cements the device as a threat to Sony's PSP. As the Spartan warrior, King Argos, you'll explore near PSP quality environments and battle an army of creatures such as scorpions, a Minotaur and Cyclops, mindlessly hacking your enemies to bits and leveling up your character. It's an amazing spectacle and yet another quality product from Gameloft, but does it capture the excitement from the film 300, the movie it is clearly based on? Not exactly.
For the most part, the developers did everything right. You've got this glorious 3-D engine that displays large stone pillars, statues, mountains, bridges and plenty of critters to slaughter. It even runs smoothly, as we rarely experienced hiccups while battling six baddies at once or running from a towering creature that knocked over platforms.
We're also fans of the control scheme. To maneuver Argos, you place your thumb onto a touch screen analog stick and slide in the direction you want him to go. To fight, you simply touch the on screen button and he wails on whatever is close by. There's even a series of quick time events where you tap buttons in order to successfully slit a monster's throat or drive Argos' sword into its head.
It's a superb looking package, but Hero is far from perfect. Targeting individual enemies is almost impossible, so your best bet is to mindlessly hack away at a mob in the hopes of killing everything. Unfortunately, that summarizes much of the gameplay. Every once and awhile, the camera pulls so far out that all we see is a blob of characters jittering on screen. It's at that point that we furiously press the attack button to survive; sometimes we do, and sometimes Argos croaks.
Gameloft also missed the opportunity to develop the character. Despite all the flashy cut scenes, Argos lacks the badass personality of God of War's Kratos. We never bonded with the guy or championed his cause. He's just some muscle bound dude.
At the same time, we can't help but marvel at the video game, because despite Gameloft's missteps, it managed to cram a five plus hour 3-D adventure normally reserved for the PSP onto a phone. Sure, it cannot touch God of War: Chains of Olympus, but considering the types of games on iPhone, it's a remarkable achievement and one of the platform's must have apps.
What's Hot: Sweet looking 3-D visuals, dramatic soundtrack, mythological beasties, furious hack and slash gameplay.
What's Not: Little to no character development, mindless button mashing gets old, not enough extras, costs $9.99, kills the iPhone's battery.