Ancient Wars: Sparta Review
Ancient Wars: Sparta box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: World Forge 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Playlogic / Eidos 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Apr. 24, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-8 (Online) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Sometimes you gotta' let 'em fight their own battles

by Cole Smith

May 21, 2007 - Ancient Wars: Sparta is as average as they come, yet it's more complicated to learn than necessary. It's like having to apply for a license and take a test just to fill a car up with gas.

Ancient Wars: Sparta screenshot

There are a few misleading notions that I would like to address. First of all, Ancient Wars: Sparta isn't necessarily in real time, nor does it include much in the way of strategy. There is more micromanagement here than necessary. It slows the game down and hampers the fun. At first, you are inclined to think that these micromanagement features will add a lot of depth to the game, in particular, the ability to equip your various units with different weapons and armor. But the units show little-to-no improvement despite the extra effort. Your army only has a few special moves which become tiring after a while. There's little reason to play further into this game because it becomes so redundant, even with the ability to play as any of the three different factions.

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Ancient Wars: Sparta is loosely, and I mean loosely, based on the movie 300, which glorified the ability of a few hundred Spartans to hold off the massive Persian army which consisted of tens of thousands. The Spartans were able to maintain control over a key choke point that the advancing army had to pass through in order to achieve victory. Another faction, the Egyptians, also attempt to rid themselves of the oppressive King Xerxes and his Persian army. Each of the three factions is similar, although they vary in strengths, weaknesses, and micromanagement. One thing they all have in common is that it requires a lot of resource gathering to build a decent army. A lot of gold is needed to finance such an undertaking. Units must be outfitted and trained, bases must be built, and technologies must be discovered.

Ancient Wars: Sparta screenshot

There are three main resources: gold, food, and wood. Gold is rare and is worth the most. It can only be harvested at specific times. It takes a good chunk of time to get your army up and running so you'll have to make sure that you secure your base from attacking hordes to buy yourself some time. You can do this by reinforcing walls and setting up traps. You can expedite this process by harvesting the weapons and armor of defeated units. This will not only hasten your progress but it will cut down on the overall expense. The problem is that it still takes a lot of your time to walk from one end of the map to the other to collect your booty and return to base with it.

Warriors will have different strengths of armor, from light to heavy. You can train a warrior to work with ranged or melee weapons right out of the box. There is a good assortment of weapons, each capable of inflicting a specific amount of damage on the enemy. Warriors can be given secondary weapons as well, but everything that you do will cost you in resources. It's hard to overcome the feeling that there's little more to this game than amassing resources. Because once you have enough, you can create a formidable army. When this happens, the only real strategy is deciding which units to pit against the enemy's units. This isn't as easy as it sounds since it's difficult to keep up with all the units when they're on the battlefield.

Ancient Wars: Sparta screenshot

Gold is finite, and when you've collected it all, that's all folks. You will typically get most of it at the outset of the game, which you will find very unforgiving. The A.I. senses your weak points and zeros in on them. If you make a few mistakes in the beginning, the A.I. will take advantage of it, and it can cost you dearly. Numerous times I had to start the game over simply because there was no way I could buy myself out of the damage that was done to my army with my limited gold resource.

Ancient Wars: Sparta is not a bad looking game, but it does little to differentiate itself from the plethora of similar strategy games released in the last few years. There are some nice details such as animated animals in the environments and the reflection of ships sailing in the blue waters. The audio is fairly weak. The battles sound more like one-on-one fights than clashing armies. The voiceacting is almost entirely voiced by British actors. They just don't seem to get too excited about anything. Overall, the 3D world looks authentic with just the right amount of detail and ornamentation.

Ancient Wars: Sparta screenshot

There really isn't a lot going on in Ancient Wars: Sparta in terms of strategy. That said, it's not an easy game to play, but you have to play by a specific set of rules - rules that would rather have you collecting resources than employing strategies on the battlefield. In this way, Ancient Wars: Sparta makes you feel more like an ancient slave than a true warrior.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Features

  • Haunting storyline based on proven history 700-300 BC.
  • Play three different tribes to conquer the known ancient world.
  • Real time day/night system.
  • Usage of nature elements (wind & fire) in game play.
  • Huge choice of weapons, kit, and armory.
  • Usage of a self developed physics in RTS game play.
  • Unique weapon equipping & trading system.
  • Specific flora and fauna for different climate zone.
  • Huge Army with up to 5,000 units.
  • Heroes with different role system effects.
  • More than 15 different buildings for each tribe.
  • Beautifully detailed full 3D environments.

    2.6

    Overall Rating - Average
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    4.2

    Graphics
    Nicely detailed environments. Maps don't vary much.

    2.4

    Control
    More complicated micromanagement than necessary.

    2.4

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Weak sound effects. Doesn't sound like an army.

    2.2

    Play Value
    Redundant and slow gameplay. You'll be glad when you're finished with it.

  • Screenshots / Images
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