Spartacus: The Game on Facebook – review

The game is a result of the latest film, which you might have seen on HBO. It is a social game, which means having your friends play it can give you many advantages. They are called ‘allies’.

You start with a small sum of money, enough to buy your first gladiator. Lucretia will help you choose him.

After that, it is time to train him a bit. You can train your gladiators in three areas: brawn, speed and vitality. Their maximum level depends on what type of a slave he is. The so-called ‘Legends of the Arena’ have the highest max, but they are only available for ‘Facebook credits’. The current level you achieve through training will never exceed the max. Do not despair though, the max can be increased – by finishing a division (consisting of five fights) in a given arena or by winning 10 fights (and every 10 fights more). The training has its downsides, though. It costs in-game energy and real-life time.

The next step is equipping your slave. In the market you can find a variety of armor, weapons, shields and helmets. You won’t be able to pay for most of them, but you should be able to afford a linen cloth, a wooden gladius and some sort of a shield.

Now you can send your man to the arena. The only one available at the beginning is Paestum. Do not worry, you will quickly unlock the next one. If you did not hurry overmuch into your first fight, you should have a high chance of winning – it is displayed in percent above the comparison of the gladiators’ stats.

The fight animation is a little repetitive. Some of the players will be disappointed that they can’t actively participate in the actual combat. The only influence you have is over the crowd – by cheering for your gladiator and jeering the opponent, using the two buttons in the middle low of the screen. Having the crowd favor at the far right (where the raised thumb is) gives you an advantage regardless of the result of the fight. If you lose the fight, it allows your man to survive. If you win the fight, you have different choices of a finishing move and you gain a crowd bonus to your winnings.

After you won your first fight, you probably will need to repair your gladiator’s equipment. Then you will be able to send him back to the arena.

Did I mention energy? You have nine units of it at the start. Every fight, training, repair costs you a unit or more of it. Nine units seems like too little? You can gain it by having allies… or the passage of real-life time will restore it. An hour or so is usually enough to have the energy back to max.

Winning fights gives you not only money, but also influence (which can be used to purchase some of the rarer equipment and to save your gladiator from a certain death). It also gives you XP, which is displayed at the top of your main screen. When you gain a few levels, you’ll be able to purchase a second gladiator, then a third, or you’ll unlock a finishing move.

An advantage Spartacus has over the similar games of the genre is the fact it contains a amazing number of historical details. The weapons and armor bear their Roman names – that is, a sword is a gladius, a heavy sword – a spatha and a saber is called a sica. The tower shield is called scutum. You have the chance to train your gladiator to be a retiarius and use the net, or to be a dimacheri and fight with two weapons at once. Every slave you buy has his own area of birth – you can see Carthaginians, Tracians and Romans in the arena.

What is more, the game is constantly expanded. Lately, the changes are the additional gladiators and equipment released – but still, they add to the great game.

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