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Spartan: Total Warrior (PlayStation 2) artwork

Spartan: Total Warrior (PlayStation 2) review


"The Spartan is at his best when he’s just going around killing stuff, and the game gives you plenty of chance to do that. Sometimes he kills alone, outnumbered by twenty, thirty, maybe even forty. Sometimes he’s fighting with his buddies, playing the odd-evener when they’re outmanned. But the situation and the location don’t matter: the Spartan was born to end lives, and he follows his calling."



Sometimes I like to start my reviews with a spotlight on the main character, but I’m not so sure on it for this. You see, the main character of Spartan: Total Warrior is called the Spartan. And while his name alone makes him a pain to mention and avoid confusion at times, I also fear that I won’t do justice in conveying how utterly badass he is.

Oh, he might not look it all the time; depending on the chapter you’re playing and the outfit he’s wearing, it can be tough to tell him apart from all the other Spartans on the field. He’s not a mountain of muscle like God of War’s Kratos, and he’s not all fancy and flashy like Devil May Cry’s Dante. He’s a soldier who dresses like a soldier.

But the Spartan doesn’t need a flashy wardrobe to stand out on the battlefield; the enemy can spot him easy enough. All they have to do is look for the guy standing next to a pile of decapitated soldiers.

See, the Spartan is like a white, Greek, curly haired Shaft: Calm and cool and collected when no one’s bugging him, but a straight-up dangerous mofo when the fight’s on. A good battle in Spartan: Total Warrior is like a violent orgy; screams and wails all around. You go into battle with the other Spartans, add one more to their ranks. Miniature battles break out as your allies engage the enemies, fighting them one-on-one, one-on-two, two-on-five, whatever. And there you are, there’s the Spartan, right in the middle of this huge-ass war. He could just stand back and let the battle go on by itself, and maybe, just maybe, the Spartans would come out on top. No help needed.

Playing spectator would be the bitch’s way, though, and the Spartan is nobody’s bitch. He jumps into the fray, digs in. He slices a few enemies from the back, taking them out before they can take his allies out. He takes others head on, blocking their blows with his shield, giving them a good shove to knock them off-balance, cutting their rib cage wide open with one sickening slice. The Spartan is a dervish of death when he’s played right, slicing through shields and swords and getting straight to the bone, stabbing and sticking, not even pausing between kills.

Take an average fight.

The Spartan tries to cross a bridge, but a group of Romans meet him halfway, swords raised and shields gripped tight. The Spartan doesn’t even bother to slice up the first three; he just shoves out with his shield and knocks them off the bridge. Not even a big shove.

The next soldier gets his shield up as the Spartan goes for a slam-dunk slash, thinking he can block the mighty attack. He’s wrong. The Spartan smashes to the shield into splinters, lodging his sword right between the soldier’s eyes. Like it was meant to be there.

Six Romans left, and if this were the real world, they’d be pissing their pants right about now. Instead, they continue to charge, running at the Spartan in a convenient straight line.

The Spartan doesn’t even waste time wasting them individually. He just raises his sword, screams, slows time down for a second, and rushes forward, passing them and leaving a trail of blood in his wake. By the time those six soldiers’ headless bodies hit the ground, the Spartan has already killed four more of their buddies.

Seriously. Don’t fuck with the Spartan. He’ll kill you twice, man.

The guy just lives and breathes badass; it’s in everything he does. He has no past, no memory of his parents or home. But does he go on a pussy-whine-bitch fest like most heroes would? Hell no. When he finally does learn about his extremely depressing past, he gets sad…for a second. Then he kills the guy who told him and goes about his day.

The Spartan doesn’t need a past, he’s all about the present: he lives in Sparta, if you fuck with Sparta you fuck with him, and the Spartan does not liked to be fucked with. I could get into detail with the plot and tell you how it’s loosely based on the rise of the Romans and the rule of Emperor Tiberius, but that would be wasting words, especially when I can sum up the game’s plot in just three sentences:

The Romans invade Sparta. The Spartan gets really mad. He goes out and kills a shit-load of Romans.

The Spartan is at his best when he’s just going around killing stuff, and the game gives you plenty of chance to do that. Sometimes he kills alone, outnumbered by twenty, thirty, maybe even forty. Sometimes he’s fighting with his buddies, playing the odd-evener when they’re outmanned. But the situation and the location don’t matter: the Spartan was born to end lives, and he follows his calling.

Slaughter never gets old; you never tire of the rush, the adrenaline, the pure thrill you get from tapping X over and over and filling the area with dead bodies. There are some secrets to unlock, yes, but you don’t need them: it’s satisfaction enough to walk over hundreds, hundreds of dead bodies and know that you made each and every last one of them.

Sadly, it’s not a satisfaction you can always have; girly escort missions taint this manly brawler. Even if you are escorting a guy with a huge bomb who makes a nice bloody explosion if he gets hit too much, it’s still a pain in the ass. The battlefields can get thick with battle, and the guy you’re escorting just has to go through the worst of it, forcing you to knock away foes from every side and take a lot of hits you wouldn’t have to take on your lonesome. It also doesn’t help that, even though most of your allies are really cool, there’s this one annoying Amazon chick named Electra you team up with every now and then. She’s hot and she fights well enough, but she has this whiny, scratchy voice that’s just a pain to hear, like nails on a blackboard. Everything she says, whether it’s an in-game taunt or dialogue from the cutscenes, makes me want to scream.

“Perhaps I will let you live…AS MY SLAVE!”

Except for that. I like it when she says that.

Anyway, things would also be a lot easier on the Spartan could actually shoot his bow worth a damn, but he can’t. Accuracy isn’t the problem; he hits what he aims at. The only problem is that he often aims at the wrong thing. He brings out his bow and arrow and immediately targets an enemy on the other side of the field, ignoring the ones that are bearing down on him. He has to cycle through dozens of enemies to get to the ones that actually pose a problem, and by the time he’s done with that…pfft, down to the last bits of energy.

But arrows are for girls and girly men (Legolas), anyway. The Spartan would much rather get up close and personal. He wants to hear those bones cracking; he wants to look in the enemies’ eyes as they die, realizing how much they suck as life slips away. He wants to stand in the middle of a coliseum with a bloody sword and a battered shield, countless bodies covering the stadium floor, rotting flesh reeking in the air. He wants to look up to sky, close his eyes, and scream:

”WHO ELSE WANTS SOME?!”

Well, I said that, not the Spartan. But still.

Rating: 7/10

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Staff review by Zack Little (January 17, 2006)

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