Imagine a gladiatorial version of Mortal Kombat with the blood count cranked up to maximum and you have a good idea of what Spartacus: Blood and Sand is like. The game sees you tough it out over three rounds against some of the meanest warriors in the Roman Empire.
There are four different game modes in Spartacus: Blood and Sand (Quick Fight, Story Mode, Challenge and Head-to-Head), all of which essentially involve hacking away at the on screen action buttons to tear apart your opponent before he drains your energy bar. The Story mode is probably the most engrossing way to play the game, as it pits you against a series of increasingly nasty opponents over a series of different location. In between each level is a cut scene from Spartacus: Blood and Sand, so fans of the series will love this one.
The graphics in Spartacus: Blood and Sand are breathtaking, with imposing 3D characters, stunning backdrops, and lots and lots of gory blood effects. Such is the quality of the graphics that watching all the beheadings and torso slashing actually makes you feel pretty queasy.
Controlling your character can be a fiddly affair, and it'll take you a while to master even the most basic of the many special moves each character has at their disposal, so I recommend trying the training mode first. At times, the direction pad and action buttons feel quite unresponsive and hopefully this is something the developer can address in future versions. When you do get a move right though it feels so satisfying as the action slows down and you watch your warrior inflict punishing blows upon your opponent, allowing you the chance to rack up combos.
Spartacus: Blood and Sand even includes a two-player mode over WiFi or Bluetooth, and this handles surprisingly well.
Once you get the hang of the controls, you'll find Spartacus: Blood and Sand as enjoyable as any of the classic console beat 'em ups.
- Added Bravo's official trailer for the premiere of Spartacus: Blood and Sand in the UK