Finally, “God of War” for your iPhone.
Okay, so it’s not actually “God of War,” but “Hero of Sparta” might as well be.
More times than not, blatant rip-offs of other games just plain old stink. While they try to recreate the same feeling of the original, it just can’t compare to the reaction a gamer had the first time around.
And of course, there’s the fact that there is always something wrong with the controls, or the frame rate is off, and so on and so on.
Thankfully there is Gameloft’s “Hero of Sparta.” Despite being a complete copy of the “God of War” formula, it’s an excellent game nonetheless.
Sure, this case is slightly different because there hasn’t been a “God of War” for the iPhone/iPod Touch, (still holding out hope though) but there are just so many similarities the comparison has to be made.
When you boot up the game, it begins with a beautiful cinematic sequence of a Spartan that might as well be King Leonidas from “300” only with long, braided hair. He fights off some undead soldiers and charges a giant ogre. Just as he jumps up with his sword inches from the area between the ogre’s eyes, it ends. That opening sequence looks as good as any cut-scene in any video game, regardless of console, truly movie level quality. While the actual game can’t compare, its graphics are still very good, if slightly a bit ruff around the edges. No matter what you think of the graphics though, it is hard to complain about them when it is a game on a device such as an iPhone.
As the first level opens, you see your character, King Argos, kneeling on a beach. He doesn’t know where he is, nor what happened to the rest of his fleet. From there, the journey begins spanning eight well designed levels that include Atlantis and Hades.
Now on to the blatant “God of War” rip-offs mentioned earlier. There are several types of monsters you’ll face throughout “Hero of Sparta,” minotaurs, gorgons, centaurs, a cyclops and of course the hordes of what look to be undead soldiers. Unique to “Hero of Sparta” however is the little mini-game you play with some of the enemies like the minotaur or gorgon where you have to press buttons on various parts of the screen that causes Argos to cut, stab and ultimately kill the beast. While that mini-game is in fact not unique at all, it’s still fun.
On the top left of the screen is all of Argos’ vital information. A green bar indicates his health, a blue bar his magic, and a red globe that shows how much power you can disburse amongst your various weapons to upgrade them. To fill up each of the aforementioned bars, you will need to collect different orbs by killing enemies or destroying object. Shockingly, green orbs fill your health bar, blue your magic, and red orbs are for your power ups.
When it comes to power ups, you have a pretty good number of weapons to choose from. Though you begin with just a sword, you gain some more weapons, a larger sword, a bow and arrow, a giant axe, and dual wielded short swords. Also, you get a couple of cool pieces that upgrade your character such as a more powerful shield, a unique cape, a helmet and body armor.
No matter how well they designed everything else, the real difficulty the guys at Gameloft had to overcome was how to create a control scheme that would feel natural on a touch screen. Though it isn’t as comfortable as analog sticks and buttons are, the controls for “Hero of Sparta” set the standard for future 3D touch screen actions games. On the bottom left is a joystick that works surprisingly well. It takes some getting used to at first and there will be a couple of times your thumb slides off the screen, but overall, using the joystick worked fine. Being a hack-n-slash game, there is a dedicated attack button on the lower right of the screen and a defense button just under it and to the left. For Argos to use his magic, you have to slide your finger up and to the left on the shield button. This was definitely good as a designed control system for iPhone game and it’s what makes “Hero of Sparta” as much fun as it is.
Fighting your way through “Hero of Sparta” is a wonderfully brutal experience as well. All the levels are well designed, the graphics are as good as anything you’d expect on the iPhone, and the gameplay is exceptional due to a spectacular control scheme. “Hero of Sparta” is not just one of the best iPhone/iPod Touch games, but one of the better mobile games out there. Originally $10 in the App Store, it has been $0.99 for the last few weeks and it is unclear for how much longer. Nevertheless, one thing is for sure: this game is a must have for fans of the action genre at $10, but a must own for anyone at $0.99.