Ancient Wars: Sparta
by Eidos Interactive, 2007, $39.99.
Set between 700 and 300 BC, Ancient Wars: Sparta pits the armies of Sparta, Persia and Egypt against each other as each civilization battles for supremacy in the Mediterranean. For the most part, Sparta is a basic by-the-book real-time strategy game: Gather resources such as food, wood and gold, build command centers and troop quarters for training and amassing a sizeable force, then unleash that force upon your enemies. The resulting battles are more like chaotic brawls than strategic, carefully planned tactical engagements.
The game makes up for this shortcoming by introducing several fresh new ideas to the basic strategy mold. The most noteworthy additions are unit customization and weapons acquisition. Sparta allows you to equip your units with a wide variety of weapons and armor. You can outfit your Spartan hoplites with a spear, short sword and shield, or your Persian Immortals with scimitars. You can also collect discarded weapons from the battlefield, making these yet another resource. After a costly skirmish early on in your campaign, recycling dropped weapons from fallen soldiers is far more cost effective than having your armory churn out newly forged ones, particularly when given the opportunity to strike a wounded, regrouping enemy force.
Originally published in the September 2007 issue of Military History. To subscribe, click here.