Spartacus on Facebook: Tis but a flesh wound on the competition

Spartacus: Gods of Arena
When we first heard word that Starz would be releasing a social game to promote the release of its miniseries titled "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena," I was admittedly skeptical. Publisher 6waves and developer Large Animal Games have exceeded my expectations, for sure. Unfortunately, it's tough to envision this social game of the same name having life beyond the run of the miniseries. Luckily, it'll be worth some good fun while it lasts.

Join us after the break for a more detailed take on Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.

Equipment Menu
When Disney released its social app to accompany Tron Legacy and Telltale launched its Back to the Future Blitz, a clear-as-day Bejeweled clone, Large Animal Games was busy working on a legit Facebook game. And its originality shines throughout. (No, this game is not like Mafia Wars.) Players assume the role of "managing" a lineup of enslaved gladiators by training them, sending them into battle and equipping them with new weapons and armor to master the circuit of arenas in ancient Greece. Winning battles earns players denarii, the games main currency used to buy gear and more gladiators. Also rewarded for victories is a more figurative stat called Influence, which is used to rig fights on your favor and to buy premium gear. Think of it as the game's paid currency (and it operates in Facebook Credits).

In the arena, battles are largely automatic like games are in Madden NFL Superstars, but you have the ability to either Cheer or Jeer. Of course, Cheering when your gladiator lands a blow or blocks one will increase your chance of winning and bonuses afterward. Jeering the opponent when he lands a blow or blocks one will limit his chances of victory. The music and artwork are well-produced and engaging, but rip a little too much from the near-ubiquitous comic book, 300. Unfortunately, that's about for the battle system: click either of two buttons enough and you win. For some added depth, players can challenge their friends' gladiators, but its not a real-time fight that occurs.

Cheer or Jeer to win
And that's about it for Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which is sad to say. But at least the developer did more with this property when it could have easily created a shallow advergame. The game will be a blast to play on the laptop in between episodes of the new miniseries, but there isn't much point in sticking around once the TV battles are over.

Click here to play Spartacus: Gods of the Arena on Facebook Now>

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