Can Gameloft deliver with their sequel to Hero of Sparta? I think the answer is a resounding yes. Though not perfect, Hero of Sparta II (HOS2) delivers pure action and colorful graphics on Apple's noble iPhone and iPod Touch.
HOS2 is an action game spun in the Greek mythological era of the Gods and Goddesses. You play the warrior Argos. I won't get into his story here, but in this game you are sent on a path of redemption. You return to Earth after spending some buddy time with Hades and immediately the action starts. The controls are different than its predecessor. The main diffidence is that Argos can now jump. This adds a much needed play mechanic to HOS2. In the weapon department, you start off with the basic shield and sword. After every level or so, you start to collect a variety of different and useful weapons including: wings that can be used to glide and attack, a helmet that give Argos the ability hurls fireballs, and my favorite the claws which give you God of War like attacks against your enemies.
The levels are mostly linear, but on occasion you can find a hidden area that has extra gems. You can collect red balls that can be used to increase the attack and magical attack of each weapon. Blue gems to replenish magic and green gems to gain back health. You can also collect additional gems that can be added to your weapon of choice to gain attack/magic bonuses like a +2 to attack, for example.
Pulling off attacks is fun. You have an attack button that when pressed successively, gives you a combo attack on your enemy. However, you can add a modifier to your attack by swiping up, down, left and right. If you use the down motion it will typically cause a "shield break" maneuver with your selected weapon to destroy a shield or some other object. Using the up swipe will launch your enemy in the air for you to unless even more combos.
I am very pleased with the variety of levels in HOS2. You have a lot of different interactive events from running acorss a crumbling bridge to swinging with the claw weapon like a vine to climbing towers. The enemies in HOS2 are not as great. I found that I was constantly fighting the same 3-4 enemies every time with an occasional 5th monster added just for variety. A new enemy feature which is enjoyable is "taking control" of the enemy. For example, the Minator can be controlled by following a series of button presses on screen. You can then control the Minator and attack the baddies. Regretfully, there is not much of a boss battle. There is a boss at the end of every level in HOS2, but you rarely actually attack them. Instead, you typically dodge their attacks or dodge environmental variables. This is somewhat disappointing, but there is plenty of action when fighting during the levels.
The graphics have really be stepped up in this release. There is an insane amount of detail close up with a wide variety of color and textures; make no doubt, HOS2 is very pretty and impressive. However, all of this comes at a controversial cost in this reviewers opinion; framerate. HOS2 moves nicely if you are in a relatively enclosed area with a couple of enemies, but this is rarely the case. You are typically fighting 5 or more bad guys at once in an open area and this is where the framrate begins to suffer. I estimate this game runs at an average of 15-20 frames per second. This can become frustrating when trying to string combos together,etc. I can only hope that Gameloft will update this app soon. Gameloft did an awesome update to GT Motoracing Academy to the pleasure of many fans and I hope that they do the same here.
Overall, HOS2 is a must buy for any action fan. If you are looking for the silky smooth framerate of say, N.O.V.A, look elsewhere. If you want a solid, fun action game that pays homage to God of War, then this is the game for you.
[$6.99- iTunes Link]