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Videogames-To-Flix #37

Jun. 27, 2007by:

VIDEOGAMES-TO-FLIX is a JoBlo.com column showcasing reviews of videogame translations of Hollywood films (or games soon-to-become Hollywood movies). With both industries getting closer and closer, and videogames, in general, getting so much more popular, you knew it was just a matter of time before we hit that stuff!

300: MARCH TO GLORY

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Developer: Collision Studios
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive/ Eidos Interactive
Systems: PSP

INTRODUCTION:

You'd figure that the movie 300 would lend itself quite well to video game licensing. With the movie's release in March, 300: MARCH TO GLORY is the only video game adaptation available for gamers and it is only available on the PSP. Currently, there are plans for a new adaptation to be released but who knows how long that might take. For the time being this is the only way to live the movie (excepting the silly cell phone game).

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The story in the game takes place simultaneous to the movie as 300 Spartans battle the invading Persian Empire. The protagonist of the game is King Leonidas and is accompanied by varying fellow warriors. 300: MARCH TO GLORY mixes hack-n-slash, RPG-like upgrades, and optional elements of stealth. There has been no mention of this particular game coming to consoles, but a port to the PlayStation 2 looks feasible.

GAMEPLAY:

Simply put, this game is not incredibly deep when it comes to gameplay. Players battle from level to level cutting and slashing their way through several variations of enemies. After the demise of a crew of bad guys, a boss shows up and you'll have to figure out precisely how to beat him. At the beginning of the game, you'll easily take down the bosses using techniques honed through years of gaming experience. However, as the game progresses you'll move from easy victories to hunting down tactics on the Internet. I rarely need to use strategy guides, but in order to survive some of these bosses, a gamefaq is essential. The minutiae of taking down some of these bosses can be so frustrating that you'll wonder how many people were able to finish the game. I guess someone had to for the gamefaq . The difficulty level is frustrating, but not so much that you'll quit the game. There are nice breaks from the insanity that regular gamers can progress as usual.

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The hack-n-slash aspects are fun and keep with the spirit of the movie. Players get to decapitate, impale, and golden shower their enemies into oblivion (okay, maybe not so much with the golden showers). The upgrades to your weapons and the primary weapon options make the slaughter different enough so that you aren't bored. The grunt enemies have weak points that you'll need to memorize and then randomize as they come different packs. You'll just need to adapt when they arrive in different arrangements. The upgrade system helps keeps your character in line with the learning curve and able to handle the ever increasing difficulty.

Meanwhile, the stealth missions seem like a tacked on game type meant to break up the hack-n-slash monotony of most movie games. The stealth play is nothing more than robotic hide and seek from a computer AI akin to that seen on the Atari 2600. Seriously, sneaking up to guards and watchmen can be done much better than this and the only saving grace is that your sneak attacks always culminate in some sweet blood letting. If not for that, I'd say dread the stealth missions entirely.

Overall in the gameplay category, 300: MARCH TO GLORY is an above average hack-n-slash game that is better than many but nowhere near the best. It could use a in-game combo guide for players that can't play everyday, but still beats out the majority of licensed throwaways.

Gameplay: 6.2/10

GRAPHICS:

With the PSP no longer the newest game system on the market, it has lost some of its graphical luster. Compared to other portables, the PSP is still the best looking, compared to current gen console games there is quite a divide. When games are based on current genres and design, they will always look a bit smudged. Because 300: MARCH TO GLORY has similarities to a lot of current gen games the graphics bring the game down.

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Specifically, the gameplay graphics don't live up their full promise. The character models are blocky and simplistic while the settings are incredibly small and boring. The scope of the levels and the time spent on the characters seem on par with an early release PlayStation 2 game. With the right compression this game could function quite well on a Nintendo DS (visually). That's really a shame because the rest of the game seems to be in good shape graphically.

Fortunately, the graphics of the cut scenes pick up the slack. Cool hand drawn animations connect game-to-comic without a hitch. And with the support of some awesome voice work , 300: MARCH TO GLORY pulls together quite a story. If the designers are looking to bring this game to current consoles, they need to spend a good chunk of time on the game graphics and leave the cut scenes alone. The visuals of GHOST RIDER should be enough to appease the masses.

Graphics: 5.2/10

SOUND:

As I previously mentioned, the voice work in this game is a godsend. While the real actors were not recruited to lend their voices, the fill-ins do quite an exceptional job. You can tell they saw the movie prior and their direction was spot on. They sound completely genuine and in character. I was shocked that a portable game would handle the storytelling as well this one and the voice work is central to that success. Especially well performed was the role of Dilios. At this point, I'm not sure if they job'd out this role or used David Wenham's original performance.

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The music and sound effects in the game are limited and repetitive, something standard to older and portable games. Obviously, the memory and budget are spent more on other aspects of the game because sound is typically seen as an added benefit. The effects and music do an okay job but are easily eclipsed by the voice overs.

Sound: 7.4/10

FINAL VERDICT:

Portable movie games are not high up in the list of great video games. In fact, I can't currently think of one worth mentioning (is GOLDENYE 64 on the DS yet?). Most of these games are quick cash-ins meant to drain kids dry of their allowance and lunch money. 300: MARCH TO GLORY is a cash-in game but makes a valiant enough effort to justify some of your time. The storytelling is on par with that of the movie and deserves much better gameplay. Sure, the difficulty is challenging, but I never felt like I was playing a game I'd want to revisit in ten years. This is a good start for the upcoming console games, hopefully they'll steal the good points and drop the crap.

Final Verdict: 7.1/10

STATUS OF THE MOVIE:

The movie 300 left quite a mark on the box office this past spring. For an R-rated feature with no known movie stars, 300 grossed over $200 million domestically and almost made a billion worldwide. No word on any kind of sequel (*whew*) and the director Zack Snyder has moved onto directing Alan Moore's famous graphic novel, WATCHMEN.

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