All right, I thought I'd add in some more impressions. I think I've played three chapters now... but I'm not sure. I haven't seen a "Chapter Completed" screen or anything, so I very well may still be on the first chapter. That would be pretty sweet
Anywho: I played the first Hero of Sparta a little bit to compare the graphics, and I was actually a little disappointed. At first I thought Hero of Sparta II looked really great and a huge improvement over the first game, but for some reason it seems to me that other than the animations getting a nice improvement, the graphics of the characters look exactly the same. I swear that's the case, unless I'm going blind. The environments look far and away much better in the second game than the first one, though. But the graphics aren't as impressive as I initially thought. Still good, but not the most outstanding on the platform, that's for sure. Then again, seeing how much more is going on at one time in this one than the first game, it does make sense in a way why the graphics for the characters wouldn't be the best.
The controls are still going well, though I'm having a lot of trouble with the camera switching angles, and my character's movement being unnatural and weird. Like, if you are holding up-right on the analog stick, then the camera switches, you will start going in a direction you don't want to go. A quick "thumb off, thumb on" works, but it's rather annoying when that happens.
The difficulty is something that I'm sure a lot of people will like. So far it seems a lot more difficult than the first game. You fight much bigger waves of enemies, and more powerful (as well as more annoying) enemies as you progress further. Definitely spices things up when they put so many different enemies into the mix.
The sound is great. I'm enjoying the music, and how it doesn't feel completely tacked-on like the first game's music selection was. I'm one of those "iPod music playback" soldiers (as some of you might see from many posts of mine
), so the fact that you can also play your own music is very welcoming. I wish this idea would catch on with a certain Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 *cough*. But seriously, the sound is really nice.
The checkpoints appear to be much more lenient than the first game, but I could be wrong. Fast app switching is always a nice feature, too
Probably the biggest improvement over the first game is the overall feel of the environment. Instead of feeling like you're being restricted to faux-3D environments to run amuck in, you actually feel like you have a whole 3D environment to run around in. The first game felt really linear and restricted. Although there is linearity in this one, it isn't as blatant as the first one.
I really appreciate that there is some actual exploration in this too. Same with platforming (though that could be a good or bad thing, depending on who you are). The first game, as with the environments, had some very restrictive platforming segments. Oh ho ho, you can jump up a ledge or two. My goodness.
But in this one, you have actual platforming sections, and it's nice to have a dedicated "Jump" button that doesn't have to be activated by some ledge you have to jump up to. The Jump button is always on, and that makes the game also feel less restrictive. I think the phrase of the day is "less restrictive". This blows the first game out of the water in terms of freedom.
Finally, there are a couple really cool play mechanics that I'm liking a lot. One is a slight spoiler, so I'll just say that I love a certain thing you can do with the Jump button when you get a certain item (in the first chapter, I think). The other is the lifting/pulling minigame. There's something a lot more satisfying and fun with alternating button presses working your way up the screen, than just tapping the same button repeatedly to lift a really heavy door. I really like that.
So in conclusion, from the extended time of play, I have found a lot to really like, and found a couple disappointments as well. Polish is one thing I'm finding to be disappointing. There are several graphical glitches I've experienced, I don't appreciate random one-second freezes that seem to occur when it's loading the rest of a certain level (only happened a couple times, though. And it's better than endless load screens
), and the cutscenes still hiccup a fair amount (fair being an average of at least one hiccup per cutscene). And it doesn't feel like the most refined video game out there. But the positives totally outweigh the negatives, and it's a fantastic experience so far. So I still stand by how much I loved it from my initial impressions