Sparta: War of Empires is a new browser-based empire building/strategy MMO developed by Plarium, a software house very comfortable with the genre which already published a bunch of similar games such as Stormfall, Soldier Inc. and Total Domination. We decided it was about time to try their newest creature and see what it offers to the players.
With Sparta: War of Empires, Plarium brings you to ancient Greece, where the proud Spartans are facing the ever-growing Persian threat lead by the cruel tyrant Xerxes. As usual in these kinds of games, you will be put in charge of your own fledgling city-state and it will be up to you to make it flourish or be responsible for its downfall. Under the guidance of King Leonidas himself, which will help you during the early phases of the game, you will learn the ropes and prepare to make a stand against the Persian Empire, finding valuable allies or new enemies along the way.
Being a browser-based title the registration process is fairly quick and painless and with just a couple of clicks you will be into the game and admiring your newly created city. Here begins the tutorial, a series of quests that will guide you through the various gameplay elements and features. While certainly useful and mostly clear, we think that there are way too many of them thrown at you too quickly and the overall feeling is to be just compulsively clicking pop-up windows to go on, grabbing rewards and advancing in the game on a fixed track, rather than be actually playing and building a mighty empire. Sure, you can choose not to follow them and play your own way, but you will miss a lot of useful rewards and XP. We know that these kind of games are complex and there are a lot of features to learn and remember, but with a slightly slower pace maybe it would be a little easier for the player to actually have fun and absorb information so that they know what clicks perform which actions.
The game’s graphics are surprisingly good for a strategy/management browser game, and offer a very polished and pleasant 2D style with some little animations which, without being confusing, surely help to make your city look a little more alive. Sadly there are no battle animations, only reports that show the outcome of the fight. A couple of criticisms that we could make to the developers are about the scarce optimization of the graphic engine, which can sometimes feel heavy and slow (unacceptable for a game that should be able to be played on the fly), and goes off-screen on certain resolutions while in full-screen making impossible to click on certain buttons. The sounds deserve a word or two as well which in contrast has enjoyable background music and a very good dubbing for Leonidas and some of the main quests, which is something extremely rare in these kind of games.
The core gameplay is exactly what you would expect from an empire building/strategy MMO. You will need to gather resources such as bronze, wood and wheat, build several building with different purposes, like mines, farms and the lumberyards, which produce the three resources, the infantry camp, where you can purchase infantry troops, stable to hire scouts, the oracle, which will find new camps to protect or attack each day and much more. Production and building times are quite quick, at least in the early phase of the game, and this help to keep a fast and entertaining pace with a lot of things to do right from the beginning. The fights start soon as well, and you will find yourself pillaging, defending or conquering enemy AI and player controlled villages within the first hours of gameplay. We found this to be one of the highlights and we think that Plarium managed to find a very good pace that will make you feel that you are actually doing something without having to wait to have fun, as often seen in other strategy browser games. Moreover, because of this it is easy to understand the importance of the social features offered by the game from the beginning. In order to survive in this harsh world, is highly recommended to start interacting with other players, i.e. helping each other with your neighbors, trading with other players or joining a bigger alliance to seek protection and loyal companions.
Sparta: War of Empires is a fun and entertaining browser-based strategy/management MMO, which tries to offer the best and most loved features of the genre without taking the risky route of innovation. The nice graphics, the pleasant music and the quantity and variety of features make for an enjoyable game for both casual and hardcore players, and the social elements of the game lead players to interact with each other since the first phases of the game. Of course, the game is not perfect, but even with a couple of flaws is still definitely worth trying for the fans of the genre.