sparta disk 88 .
(photo credit: )
Ancient Wars: Sparta, a DVD-ROM in English by Eidos, distributed with a 56-page Hebrew-language user's manual by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows XP or higher and a 2.4 ghz Pentium 4 PC or better, for ages 16 through adult, NIS 219.
Between 700 and 300 BCE, when we were worshipping God in the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, the people of Sparta were battling the Persians and Egyptians with swords, slingshots, javelins and burning arrows. We are still here - but the Spartans are gone, except as the stars of new blockbuster movies like 300 and ho-hum computer games such as Ancient Wars: Sparta.
The disk is apparently the first in a series of computer games based on historic wars going back to ancient times. This one, however, fails to innovate in graphics, artificial intelligence and challenges, and real-time-strategy gamers will get a feeling of d ja vu when they play. You pick one of three available levels of difficulty and decide whether you want to fight as a Spartan, Persian or Egyptian commander. If you choose the second, you are Xerxes - the familiar King Ahasuerus, who seems much more bellicose here than he was in the Book of Esther.
Although fans of the film 300 may think Sparta is a tie-in movie, it has no connection, and the content is very different, even though Sparta's King Leonidas is in both. It was perhaps fortunate for the distributors that the movie is playing now, as its appreciators may buy the game because of it, but as the game is mediocre and boring, it will unfortunately leave them feeling disappointed.
If you have a lust for blood, you're in for some delayed gratification, as the game requires a great deal of micromanagement and resource gathering before you can stab your first enemy soldier. These tasks overwhelm the strategy aspects of the game. After collecting some scraggly slaves for your army, you must outfit them with arms, train them and then construct military bases from wood to house them and sheepfolds to feed them. All this is very tedious and bearable only for the very patient and minutiae-minded gamer. The blood does gush out of enemy soldiers, but fortunately it disappears into thin air very quickly, and there is no real gore.
The game's most precious resource is gold, and the shiny metal is required for building up your forces; when you run out, you're up the creek. However, once you begin to defeat your enemies, you can collect booty to bolster your reserves. The "fashions" in this program are not dresses or suits but metal armor that covers the nose, cheeks, chest and other vital body parts, but you can still make some deadly stabs between them.
The game offers a day/night system and the use of wind and fire in game play. There are many moving animals - snakes, birds of prey and even jumping jerboas - to supply a bit of added interest to the fighting, which can encompass up to 5,000 military units. There are naval battles with wooden ships that look remarkably advanced for ancient times.
But the voice acting, mostly by unknown British actors - is atrocious. They even get some of the words wrong, such as saying that a "bow serves all of Persia" and pronouncing the word that goes with "arrows" like the word that rhymes with "how." It sounds pretty ridiculous hearing Egyptian and Persian warriors with accents sounding as if they were dispatched to battle by Queen Elizabeth II. Their dialogue is also pathetic and repetitive. How many times can you listen to the question: "Who's blood are we going to spill today?" But I did laugh when the Egyptians - who enslaved the ancient Israelites for 400 years - were described in the dialogue as a "freedom loving and majestic people."
There are too few differences among the three empires except in the look of their buildings and landscapes. The sounds fall very short of the noise of battle, but the martial music in the background is quite varied and appropriate.
After playing this game, this Israeli wonders why software companies who want to bring ancient wars to life don't depict the spectacular battles of Moses, Joshua, David, Deborah or the Maccabees. On second thought, I suppose the British and supporters of their boycott against Israel wouldn't go for it...