Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spartans! Prepare for glory!

Sparta: The Fate of Hellas
Game Category: Real Time Strategy
Developer / Distributor: World Forge / Jowood
Release Date: 4 Apr 2008 
Rating: ESRB - Mature, PEGI 16+

Sparta: The Fate of Hellas (TFoH), also known as Great War Nations: The Spartans, is a stand-alone real time strategy game expansion for Ancient Wars - Sparta, the main game which was released a year before (back in 2007). Both games were developed by World Forge, a game development company headquartered in the city of Voronezh, Russia.

If you have played Ancient Wars - Sparta before, than you already know what to expect in this expansion. Instead of playing through three campaigns featuring 30 maps and featuring these factions - the Spartans, Persians, and Egyptians, this time round, TFoH has you slogging through two campaigns featuring only 14 maps and two factions - the Spartans (once again) and the Macedonians.

It is only natural to feel disappointed by the fewer maps and factions, but do not forget that this is an expansion. All things aside, you should be aware that you do get to play the Egyptians and the Persians (together with the Spartans and Macedonians) in the mutiplayer mode, and you could go at it in single player mode by simply activating 7 AI opponents instead of battling against 7 online opponents.

A new age has begun
In single player mode, you can either access the tutorial or jump straight into either of the two campaigns. The tutorial was pretty straightforward stuff although I did run into some problems with completing the first tutorial lesson.

The tutorial will have you roaming the land to get three important resources like wood, gold, and food. You will also learn the importance of getting your Helot (also read as - peasant who is able to construct buildings) to pick up weapons and bring them back to your Acropolis. These weapons can be used later to equip your troops.

Do not forget today's lesson

As for multiplayer mode, you can either play on the Internet, a Local Area Network, or enable a skirmish type game against up to 7 AI opponents depending on the map type. At least you will be able to play the 4 factions here, but alas there are only 10 paltry maps.

This is where we fight! This is where they die!

Like its predecessor, the game play in TFoH is still pretty difficult, even when set to Easy mode. There is so much you have to do to build your troops that it gives new meaning to a phrase I have coined - micromanagement for the sake of fun... or lack thereof.

You will be spending quite some time preparing your resource gathering production lines at the start - such as building your gold mine and sending at least 5 helots to gather the gold, followed by sending at least another 5 helots to chop trees for wood, and finally sending a further 6 helots to build two farms for food to feed your troops. Notice, I haven't even talked about building your troops yet.

Unless I miss my guess, we're in for one wild night
Troop building gives you the choice of customizing your troops. However, I still feel the interface is rather clunky since I had the choice of assigning a primary and secondary weapon and shield for my troop. Once you are happy with the design of your customized troops, you can enable a button to build this type of troop.

If you want more advanced weapons or armor, you will have to research them or get your helots to pick up enemy weapons that are dropped on the ground. Uggh... more of the micromanagement grind.

Unless, you are the type who thrive on such flexibility and strategic options, it is unlikely you will appreciate all the possible permutations that the TFoH throws at you.


The missions in TFoH are mostly about destroying the enemy's base, so expect a lot of planning and clicking as you labor about building your infrastructure and then your army. You will definitely cringe when it comes to building your troops on horseback. At least the chariots bulldoze enemies away pretty magnificently, and the elephants will probably make you want to play the game to its completion.

You there, what is your profession?

The graphics in TFoH is pretty excellent. I loved the building construction sequences as there is quite a lot to ogle at as your helots go about executing your build orders. Some of the buildings are pretty huge when you zoom in to ground level. It is therefore pretty pointless zooming in when you are near your city.

The army units are all lovingly done too, although the way individual troops get peppered with spears and arrows tend to be laughable at best. The game probably features some of the most peculiar impalements ever. And I do notice a minor problem now and then - for example a spear or an axe floating in thin air.

It won't be long before they fear my spears...

The cutscenes in the game are pretty nice to watch although they do appear just a tad blur while I was playing it. The voice work that accompanies it is my opinion above average. The music in the game is pretty alright although it seems to be laden with flute sounds - something a snake charmer might use to hypnotize a snake. I guess it is supposed to evoke a sense of being a Spartan.

The war sounds are rather exciting to hear in this game and I just love the sound of rock or spike traps being sprung by my opponents as they carelessly blunder into them. Let alone the cries of pain at discovering the traps.

No retreat, no surrender

The Fate of Hellas is a pretty average real time strategy game that continues the game play featured in  Ancient Wars - Sparta. If you like quite a bit of micromanagement in your games and love the thrill of commanding a mighty force of 300 (alright, there shall be no further references from that movie for the screenshot captions), then I suggest you get your hands on this game for a few hours of fun - perhaps a lazy afternoon would be a good time to give it a spin.

A heightened sense of things
Daily PC Game Review Score: 6 / 10
Review Date: 25 May 2011

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