It was around the twelfth time my hero character casually wandered into an incoming barrage of arrows that I realized Great War Nations: The Spartans might be some kind of historical commentary on Spartans. Is the game’s AI so dumb because the developers were intentionally depicting the Spartans as bumbling fools?
In Great War Nations’ campaign mode, you command the armies of the Spartans or Macedonians (with the addition of Egyptians and Persians in multiplayer, if you can find an opponent). A problematic difficulty curve and lethargic pacing, accompanied by bad voice acting of a poorly translated script, make the seven missions in each campaign tedious. The first mission alone takes several hours to complete, but not because it’s difficult - the most formidable enemy is boredom as you gather enough gold and lumber to raise an army.
Siege ladders and battering rams do offer some variation on typical real-time-strategy gameplay, but combat is limited to basic blitz tactics, or “siege, then blitz” if the opponent has walls. Adding annoyance to monotony, many of the larger units in the game (chariots, ships, catapults) are difficult to maneuver and prone to getting stuck while enemy archers plink away at them.
Despite the generally modest graphics, there are still some areas where the devs paid attention to detail. Instead of having your troops simply appear after being built, you can see your troops being trained in their respective buildings. The ability to customize your troop types by selecting their primary and secondary weapons to create unit templates is a handy feature. Not enough, though. GWN: The Spartans offers little besides gameplay as ancient as the Spartans themselves, and should probably fall on its sword.
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 45% (Tolerable)
May 30, 2008