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Frank Miller's 300 was one of the most exciting versions of the spartans final battles, the film was action packed and the novels were well crafted. But could a game be any good , will the battles at Thermopylae do themeselves proud on the PSP, It's certainlyy an interesting idea and with the God of war series picking up speed at the time, it's in a good place.
Atlhough generally games of movies are very poor and lead to shocking resluts that are luckily overlooked because it's just extra cash in the film makers pocket.
So incase you havn't seen the film, the game is set in 430 bc and the Spartan army of just 300 is setting out to war in Thermopylae against Xerxes and his massive persian army. Playing as their King, Leonidas, you must lead from the front in all battles upto a final stand in a narrow passage, along the way using spear , sheild and sword to defeat all comers.
The game is rather obviously of the hack n' slash variety, but with an RPG upgrade system supporting the storyline.
You know earlier when I mentioned movie games were poor, well I am afraid this is where the slating begins.
To begin with you fight in the Spartans famous Phalanx formation, but instead of 300 brave spartans you are given 2 or 3 rather timid men in capes. The rest hold tight in formation as the 2 or 3 timid men from the other army begin their charge into your spears with the rest discovering that in 430 bc , grass was not how we know it today, as then it had a super glue like covering which wouldn't let anyone who touched it move. I was expecting a fight of grand scale like the films but unfortunatley you could count the enemies on your hands and will soon be moving onto the next horde.
Then their are the archers , who must have been hit by the recession hard as they dont seem to have any arrows but enjoy going through the motions. Reminding me of the scene in hot fuzz where Nick Frost holds an imaginary gun out the door shouting "bang bang".
The upgrading system doesn't make your attacks any better , it just lowers the number of button presses to create an attack. A simple strike puts the top Tekken combo's to shame, but upgrading does let you use 2 weapons at once and later switch between a range of about 3 weapons.
The Phalanx was an intresting premise , but it feels too cheap when it's used as I know the Spartans aren't in any danger. I wanted nothing more than to break the shield wall as I was pretty sure I could have taken out the elephants on my own.
If you do manage to take some hits and lose health, It's quickly replenished by Leonidas's blood lust which is collected by killing enemies. This meant I always had a huge amount of health and throughout the whole game never got close to a hero's death.
The Spartan's were known for their comaradery and love for each other, this doesn't come through at all as the AI treats it like a walk in the sunshine on a beach. Throughout the game I dont think I saw them pitch in with any kills at all and this is bad for a game which is meant to be flowing with action and blood shed.
The game controls horribly, this is down to the number of button presses to create an attack and the slow moving of the Phalanx. Whilst in the Phalanx you have to do nothing more than press X to stab and the shoulder button to raise your sheild. The game is extremely easy to pick up and the controls are simple but they are just so horrible to use and are unresponsive.
The graphics are shocking, for the PSP you make some compensations but the rushed design would make a PS1 game look HD. The characters are unregognisable and the level structure looks very linear, with the whole thing being made out of whatever colours were in the designers crayon set.
A positive is the cut-scenes which have the same style as the graphic novel , these look brilliant and I began to wonder wether I was playing through the levels just because I really wanted to watch the cut-scene.
The voice acting and soundtrack are also small saving graces, but this is because it's all ripped straight from the film. The game tries to build atmosphere with these 2 elements but without the support of the actual gameplay it's like selling a dead horse.
The game can be bought on Amazon for £18 and at this price you have to wonder who they are kidding, this is a bad game and should be used as a lesson in not what to do.
Sorry about the rant and my next review will be much less criticising :)
Frank Miller's 300 Graphic Novel has now been made into a film and a game. I'm a big fan of Frank Miller and i absolutly love the original graphic novel. I also love the film just as much and thought that film portrayed the graphic novel very well. But this game is quite a let down.
The game is a third person combat fighting game, but rather than this being based on theg rpahic novel it is based on the film. The combat is very simple and moves can be unlocked as you progress through the game by earning kills. Action is made slightly more interesting by the choice of two weapons - sword, or spear. Each of these has a variety of different moves but theres still nothing special to be seen. The action is slow paced and it is an individual battle with every single enemy, this holds you back and makes gameplay very repetitive. Theres only ever about 50 enemies in a level as well, which in a fast combat game would be killed within 1 minute but on here it fills a whole level. Levels are also split into different sections thanks to boring slow cutscenes of talking. This really adds nothing to the game and may as well have been left out. There is a phalanx mode to the combat, this is when the spartan warriors join together and strive forwad as one unit. This is also slow and only gives you two different moves to use. A bit of variety in combat is amde by throwing in a few special ability Leonidas can do, one of these is the blood drunk mode which effectively just makes you more powerful. This is sometimes needed to kill certain enemies, which can be irritating if you enter the battle with an empty bar. Another of these is a slow speed time where the enemies move at half the speed. All these modes are simple gneric ideas used in many games and so there is nothing new or original to 300.
300:March to Glory could have been one of the best looking games around, not just in how good the graphics are but the style it uses, the graphic novel and even the film are heavyily stylized and so this game could have built upon those orignal graphics. As for how the game graphics look, they don't look too bad but don't look too good either. The characters look abit blotchy and misshapen and the animations arn't anything new. The animations don't look unreal but then it doesn't fool you into thinking you have a genuine little Spartan on your PSP. Some cutscenes in the game however do look really good, as they use some still comic like graphics, some from the graphic novel and some completely new, these look superb and it would have been amazing to interpret some of this into the actual gameplay.
The soundtrack has its own voice acting, different to the film but it is still very good. Without the voice acting this game would have lost a vital part to it. The music behind the gameplay is also great, taken directly from the film score. This helps create the epic battle experience and adds well to the game.
300: March to Glory had a chance to be magnificent and epic, along with the graphic novel and film. Unfortunately it is just another film turned game to make more money and not made to actually satisfy gamers. After playing this you will be left dissappointed and will need to watch the film or read the graphic novel again so as to not lose your love for 300. Stay away from this game unless you are a fan and just need to experience it yourself, but hold on to the receipt as you will probably be needing it within a few days time.