Price: $4.99 Download on the App Store
Gameloft's new Hero of Sparta is positively stunning in every way: The graphics are beyond belief, the game play is nearly flawless and the sound tracks and effects are exquisite.
There's been a recent influx of games in and around the $9.99 price point and I'm starting to get a feel for which ones are worth paying for. There's no doubt about it: Hero of Sparta is one of those.
It's the familiar slice and dice epic in all it's 3D gory. You're King Argos and your task is to battle your way from the beach, where the saga begins, to the netherworld, where it ends.
At every turn along the path, monsters rise from the ground, hacking and slashing. You can fight and move, including rolling and jumping, in any direction in 3D. Your left thumb controls your direction and your right thumb controls the method of attack, or what the developer calls "ascensions" and "focused kills." You can tap and hold buttons to block strikes and counterattack. You have additional options under your right thumb depending on the weapon in hand and your battle fitness.
Like every hack and slash game of this kind, in Hero of Sparta you're charged with slaying multiple waves of minions before you get to the big boss at the end of each chapter. There are assorted monsters such as Cyclops, the one-eyed ogre, Cerberus, the multi-headed dog that guards the gates of Hell, and Greek gods to contend with.
Hero of Sparta has eight levels of increasing difficulty. As you progress, you pick up crystals and other items to strengthen you and earn more powerful weapons beyond the huge sword you begin the game with.
There's an Easy (much too easy) mode, a Normal (still a bit easy) and a Difficult (more like a normal) mode. An experienced gamer will probably blow through this game in no time. The rest of us will enjoy it for a while longer.
Unlike some high-res games, such as SimCity, I don't have the feeling Hero of Sparta is pushing the iPhone to its max. The frame rate is steady and the graphics are as good as I've seen on even more robust handheld platforms.