GC '09: Hands on with Hero of Sparta PSP Minis

The Odysee continues in PSP Minis form

GC '09: Hands on with Hero of Sparta PSP Minis

Sony may have set the pace for Greek mythology-based hack and slash-'em-ups with God of War, but the iPhone has hardly been lounging around in a toga during it’s meteoric rise to the status of handheld gaming darling.

Hero of Sparta is one of many Gameloft titles that was lumbered with the unenviable task of blowing raspberries at the PSP’s graphical prowess when it was released. It’s not like Gameloft’s effort really had a chance of replicating the depth and quality of Sony’s prize thug, but it established that the iPhone was no shrinking violet when it came to throwing down.

Cut to a year later and we are sat comfortably within the confines of Gameloft’s booth in the business centre at GamesCom in Cologne, happily playing through the first level of Hero of Sparta on a PSPgo.

It’s hardly unexpected that the game benefits hugely from the satisfying tactile feedback of real buttons. Though the build we played was an early one, the inclusion of buttons does highlight some issues that were perhaps masked in the iPhone version.

Scenery is prone to stickiness, an issue that the iPhone’s ill-fitting and occasionally unruly interface appeared to be responsible for. It seems that the touchscreen analogue stick may not have been to blame, after all.

Even so, the scenery's stickiness is not so frequent or stubborn as to prove fatal, and movement is generally reasonably fluid using the analogue nub. Indeed, hacking and slashing feels more definite, the combos more deliberate, and the enemies’ skill level appeared to have been beefed up to compensate for players that will no doubt perform better on this more familiar ground.

Visually, the game has never looked better. The occasional slowdown that cropped up in the iPhone version is entirely absent and the extra screen size really affords a squint free view of the action.

That said, with the ability to draw such direct comparisons, the fact that this game was crafted for a mobile platform is all the more evident on the PSP's glorious screen and it’s placement within the PSP Minis range, as opposed to on a (presumably) more expensive shelf in the PSP Store, is wise.

In the din of the business centre, it was hard to determine if the much maligned sound effects have been improved. With the game already clocking in at 88.8MB on the App Store, the PSP Minis cap of 100MB doesn’t leave much extra space for tarting up in this area.

Ultimately, however, this is still the Hero of Sparta we enjoyed playing last Christmas, and with the extra precision afforded by the PSP’s array of buttons, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a cracking addition to the PSP Minis range. Look out for a review in October.