I'll bet your didn't know that the Proclaimers song riding high in the charts – the 'I would walk 500 miles' one that was re-released for Comic Relief – was actually based on a traditional Middle Eastern folk song?

No, really; it went something like, "Well ah wud keel 300 Spartans und ah wud keel 300 mohr, just to bee tha last man stahnding there upon the bloody desert floor."

It's been passed down through the ages, from generation to generation, and, while the original is little-known in the West, the creations it's inspired are popular. That song is just one of them and this 300 game, based on the movie of the same name, is another.

In it you play as commander of those 300 soldiers, an army formed to defend Sparta from the local superpower of the time, Persia. You're tasked with beating off wave after wave of Persian soldiers, archers and war elephants in an effort to maintain your country's independence.

This would, you'd think, make for a great strategy game where your success rests on arraying your much smaller force in the prime tactical locations and making surgical strikes. And if that were the route the developers had taken, 300 might well have been brilliant.

Unfortunately, what they've given us is a strange melange of puzzle game and arcade-style slash-'em-up, that's at once too complicated and yet overly simplified.

You control your 300 Spartan warriors as you would in any strategy game – by clicking on the area of the ground you want them to move to or on the enemy you want them to attack. It's not hard, given that you view proceedings from an overhead isometric viewpoint and the extent of the battlefield stretches only from one side of your handset's screen to the other.

You don't even need to select the intrepid 300, because they are a single unit and you have no other to control – they're continually under your command. Which does alleviate one problem often encountered in strategy games, that of selecting the troops you want in the middle of a melee. But what's going on here is not so much a melee as it is a meat grinder.

You have three formations to impose upon your band of Spartan brothers. One is suited to moving quickly across the battlefield (a formation largely redundant due to the miniscule field of war). The second is invincible from frontal attacks and capable of cutting a swathe through absolutely any and all enemy soldiers it comes across, but is vulnerable to being outflanked or attacked from behind. And the third is a shields-over-heads tortoise-like effort to defend yourself from archers.

You – allegedly – need to choose the formation best suited to the circumstances in which you find yourself. But because 300 so favours the second formation, the regimented double-ranked line of troops that cuts down the Persian weeds under a Spartan hoe, you simply end up sweeping from one side of the screen to the other as enemies wander in from the edges.

In other words, 300 employs as much thought and tactics as the more regrettably high-profile members of the US Air Force.

You repeat the basic procedure level after level with a minimum of variation; maybe the colour of the featureless landscape will change or a slightly different-looking Persian squad will be thrown into the fray. But these don't make one jot of difference to the overall game, seeing as you have to dispose of them in the same way every single time.

It makes for a very tedious, over-the-top experience, where you're supposed to be wowed by the amount of claret you're able to spill and otherwise ignore the game's failings. It's a tactic – like most of the others associated with 300 – that's poorly thought through and lacking in any kind of depth.

Granted, 300 has tried to offer a different gaming experience to other strategy games. And, if more of a micro-management approach had been taken, it could have been much better than it is. But the unique way in which you're forced to focus on one squad of soldiers is wasted in a game that's so lifeless, thoughtless and unengaging.


Bloody, repetitive and ultimately pointless