Spartan is nothing but a killing machine. We can’t say if it’s because he has no real name, if someone said he'd never make it in a third-person hack-and-slash game because he's not as pretty as Russell Crowe, or what. What we can say is this: the only way his countrymen could have designed a more effective tool for relieving Roman soldiers of their limbs would have been to attach giant razor blades to an airplane propeller.
This meaty brand of third-person action slaughter is executed via the trusted medium of button bashing. The developers will hate us for saying this, because they’ve pointed out to us on multiple occasions the non-bashy, all-skillsy nature of Spartan: Total Warrior’s combat. But put the controller in our hands and those buttons are going to take a spanking.
Yes, we know there’s a fairly workable system in which one button is a forward attack, the other an area attack, and the rest of the buttons switch between magic blasts, arrows, rage attacks, a jump, a rolling dodge, and shield bashes. We still button-mashed. You may well be able to intentionally block an enemy’s blow and deliver an immaculately timed counter, as we often unwittingly did. But, if you reckon you can do it when you can’t even see Spartan amid the 100-strong crowd of furious combatants swarming around him, you’ve probably been working on the game for the last two years.
Anyway, regardless of how it is achieved, the result is much the same: oodles of rapid-fire killing and the satisfaction of hacking up enemies more numerous than in any console action game that has gone before. Everywhere you look, Romans (and later, skeletons, zombies, and ogre-like “gigantes”) pour over castle walls and invade rooms via unseen doorways. Sometimes you’ll have some dim-witted allies to battle alongside you, but most of the Romans nonetheless go straight to you for the fastest possible ticket to the afterlife.
When you’ve sliced and diced enough people in the current area, you’ll be able to move somewhere else for a battle in alternative surroundings. Health and the little used magic power are replenished by praying at altars along the way, although the sneaky Romans tend to use such moments to start hitting Spartan from behind.