Pop in Spartan for Fun, 'Rome' for Facts

Article excerpt

Byline: Joseph Szadkowski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A trio of recently released multimedia packages meld historical fact with fiction to give adults a lesson about or the chance to fight against the mighty Roman Empire.

Sega fires the first arrow with a third-person adventure that skews reality but delivers bloody action. Spartan Total Warrior (for Xbox, rated M: content suitable for ages 17 and older, $49.99) is set very roughly between 146 B.C. and A.D. 79 and follows the epic journey of a young Spartan guided by Ares, the Greek god of war, during the conflict between Greece and Rome.

The player won't care that Sparta never actually fought Rome, as he will be too busy crossing three continents to battle "Braveheart" style with waves of soldiers, creatures and barbarians, fighting his way to a showdown with a powerful sorcerer and emperor.

Missions with fellow warriors Pollux and Castor mix with his own missions to defend terrain and with hand-to-sword-to-shield-to-flaming-arrow combat during almost nonstop action, which will test thumb muscles and decision-making skills.

With the battle cry of "Return with your shield or upon it," the Spartan rips through all aggressors and acquires new weaponry to inflict further damage on opponents while taking full advantage of catapults, ballistas, boiling oil, explosive kegs and his deadly bow.

The game creates Hollywood-ized versions of real leaders such as Marcus Licinius Crassus, Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus and King Leonidas. It also intermingles legends such as Electra and Beowulf and liberally adds mythological creatures such as the hydra, Minotaur and even Medusa, who has been harnessed as an energy source to allow Romans to direct a beam upon foes and turn them into stone.

Intense action takes place against some beautiful backdrops as nuances such as praying at a shrine to restore health and protecting slaves while leading them to freedom will keep the player busy when not battling for his life. …