Great War Nations: The Spartans is a game that, on the outside, looks like it's trying to add some depth to the standard real-time strategy formula. Once you play it, however, you realize that there's really no depth at all, even where there should be.

As far as the gameplay design goes, this is an extremely basic, paint-by-the-numbers RTS that seems more like a title from a decade ago. You build bases, you churn out units, you overwhelm the enemy. There are two campaigns to play through with 14 missions in total: one from the side of the Spartans and one from the side of the Macedonians. The missions nearly all have elimination objectives, and play more like skirmishes, albeit with arbitrary limitations on your units. In some missions, you'll have a particular type of unit available, and during the next they'll be taken away for no discernable reason.

Micromanagement is probably the only innovative part of The Spartans, but unfortunately, it's out of place and poorly done. Basically, instead of creating units like in other RTS games, you create loadouts: start with a basic unit type, add armour and weapons, and then train the unit. There are different types of weapons and armour, and creating units means balancing cost with effectiveness. Or at least that's what it should mean. In reality, there's not a lot of strategy required, and in such a typically fast-paced game, there's not much time to think about it anyway. In many cases, churning out average units with little variation is just as effective.

Battles are fairly rudimentary, but there are a few little differences that stand out in the game. For example, as units fall, they drop weaponry and shields, and scavenging the remains is a profitable venture, allowing you either to sell the items you find for some money or put them on your men for no extra charge. Of course, like customizing each of your units, this feels a little needless, and though the game provides AI to do this, it doesn't work very well. Additionally with all the combat going on there's not much opportunity to do so.

One of the biggest problems with the game is the lack of any difference between any of the factions. There are four playable groups in total (two of them, the Egyptians and Persians, are playable only in the Skirmish modes), but each of them are pretty much carbon copies of each other, with different names and appearances. With the amount of customization available, this shouldn't really be a problem. But like I said above, the unit micromanagement doesn't really add anything to the gameplay, so what you end up with is a lot of units that perform exactly the same across all races.

The AI is not that impressive either. Enemy opponents will send groups of raiding parties to your base, but constructs often generic and uninteresting, and in general the AI doesn't provide enough of a real challenge except for how quickly you can build a large group of units. The AI of your own units, however, is riddled with problems, especially with pathfinding, causing you to click every couple feet just to make sure they get where they need to.

All in all, Great War Nations: The Spartans is just such a generic game that it's hard to recommend at all. Even the parts that do stand out don't perform well. In addition, having to micromanage every single aspect of your army, while a good idea in a slower-paced RTS, just feels like a lot of needless busywork in this title. Add to all that the lack of multiplayer beyond your LAN, and there just doesn't seem to be a lot going for the game. The Spartans may have been a great war nation in the past, but this game does nothing to show that.