Spartan in name, spartan in delivery.

4_1Ancient Greece has never gotten the gaming attention that ancient Rome has, so Slitherine redresses the balance with Spartan, the third in a series of ancient-themed titles that began with Legion. It’s a strategy game that allows you to play out Greek history from the birth of Spartan power to the arrival of Rome. New to this installment are (badly rendered) three-dimensional battles, expanded diplomatic options, and LAN-based multiplayer. The research model is improved as well, giving you more control over tech development.

Beyond that, everything is very familiar. You build up your cities and your armies to overwhelm your enemies. This time, victory conditions vary depending on the state you are playing, so Spartan has a longer shelf life than its predecessors.

The economic system is very brittle. Cities can only produce specific goods, each of some importance, so you always have to be wary of a knockout blow against your key production centers. Lose your agricultural center and it is game over. The advanced diplomatic options do little to ameliorate the “stabs in the back†that typify Slitherine’s games. The AI is given bonus resources too, so your end may come quickly if you spread yourself too thin.

Most of the twelve historical scenarios require starting from the most basic tech level, no matter what the starting year is. Not only is all progress ignored, but the diplomatic history of the period is thrown aside. The Peloponnesian War scenario even ignores the perilous diplomatic division that made that conflict the one that launched a thousand dissertations. There’s no need to reach for the hemlock, though. Spartan’s 3D battles look great, and the freer camera control gives you a new perspective on hoplite warfare. It’s easy to pick up and play, has an excellent tutorial, and will keep you amused… at least until you play Rome: Total War

System Requirements: Pentium III 1 Ghz, 256 MB RAM, 16 MB Video, WinXP

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