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PSP  header logo

300: March to Glory

For: PSP

March too gory?

Product: 300: March to Glory | Developer: Collision Studios | Publisher: Eidos plc | Format: PSP | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
300: March to Glory PSP, thumbnail 1
It's hard to imagine a greater tale of probability confounded than the story of the small band of Spartans who took a heroic stand against the advancing Persian Empire at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.

Certainly there's never been an easier time to hear of about it, thanks to modern capitalism's excellence at spinning a good yarn into a thousand different mediums to be sold and resold. 300: March to Glory is the video game of the film of the comic book of the historical battle (there's also a terrible mobile game) – and as such is the armchair warrior's medium of choice for taking part in this most famous of last stands, which was to win the war for the vastly outnumbered Greeks.

Sadly, whatever you think of Frank Miller (Dark Knight saviour of comics, or right-wing, misogynistic twerp) or the 300 comic he wrote and the subsequent film (brilliantly stylized combat ballet, or tunic-based war porn) it's unlikely that you'll find the PSP game anything other than an average button-mashing brawler.

You play through the game as King 'tonight we dine in Hell' Leonidas, and you've three combat moves immediately available to you: a hard hit, a soft but quicker hit, and a shield attack. By linking these three standard components together, you create the simple combos that conduct the ebb and swell of blood, sweat and dismemberment.

As the tempo of your fighting increases, you build up your 'Wrath' gauge, which can be used to trigger enhanced attacks or, when it's completely full, to perform a Battle Skill. There are four such collectable Battle Skills, each triggered with the D-pad, which variously recover health, increase the damage you're dealing, defend strikes and replenish your strength as you attack, and bullet time the action.

The final gameplay modifier comes in the form of 'Kleos' (aka 'Glory', as any Homeric fan will tell you), which is 300's version of an experience point system. Accruing Kleos enables you to upgrade your character with better skills and equipment.

Selecting the right equipment for the right enemy is an important (if here tedious) chore as while your sword is powerful against unarmored enemies, you'll need your spear for those who come at you a bit more prepared. It's even possible to drop the shield from your arsenal altogether, going instead with the arrogant get-up of dual-wielded swords.

No matter what weaponry you settle upon though, the game feels constantly sluggish to control. 300 lacks the fluidly and grace that you'd expect coming from the slick over-production of the film, and its cause is not helped by the frequently ropey graphics.

Thankfully, the monotony of felling endless lines of generic soldiers is relived by some fantasy-themed poetic licence, in the form of executioners with blades for arms, and skeletal golems. Nevertheless, they do nothing to relive the repetitiveness of chaining short near identical combos together, ad nauseum.

Occasionally your character will line-up with his troops to form a densely-packed Phalanx formation (a hallmark of ancient Grecian warfare, where soldiers proceed in close formation protected by their overlapping shields and projecting spears). During these sections (which aren't nearly as exciting as they sound) you must keep a Command gauge full by pushing forward killing things in your path before they inflict damage on the group.

If you've seen the film, you'll be hoping too that the sun-blocking blanket of arrows (which inspired the oft-quoted 'Good, we'll fight in the shade then' retort by Dienekes) features in the game. They do: their occasional cameo is literally foreshadowed by a darkening of the sky, which is your cue to hit both triggers in order to duck under your shield. However, both the Phalanx and the arrow dodging sections feel like tacked-on afterthoughts to the game, and fail to integrate well with the core action.

There's no multiplayer, the bonus material being instead made up by film stills, trailers, concept art and various interviews with Frank Miller. These incongruous add-ons do little to make up for the weary gameplay, the sludgy controls and the oftentimes-unhelpful camera work.

It all conspires to make 300: March to Glory only a little more exciting than the cookie-cutter slash-'em-up movie tie-in that the cynic in you was probably expecting. Hardly a heroic performance.
300: March to Glory
Reviewer photo
Simon Parkin | 11 April 2007
300 the video game could have been a lot worse for sure, but it's a shame that it couldn't have aped the film and comic's more contemporary, slick and glossy finish
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