Pragmatic Play aren't a provider to shy away from frequent releases, releasing 7 games this month alone – more than some developers release all year. With so many games being produced, it's no wonder Pragmatic have explored just about every theme known to man. Today's focus? Sparta, because why not? With an RTP of 96.50% at its' highest, Shield of Sparta is highly (5/5) volatile, with wins available up to 3,000x bet.
Visually, it's all a bit… meh. There's nothing really wrong with it, but it just feels a bit plain, not just compared to other developers' work in this market, but even compared to Pragmatic's own releases. It's quite a nice picture though – we're just off the coast, with waves crashing against rocks, and the sun setting in the distance. The reels are enclosed in stone like a colosseum, and audios are subtle – relying mostly on the sounds of the waves to bring something to the table.
Shield of Sparta Base Features
Taking place across 5 reels, wins are formed on Shield of Sparta by matching at least 3 symbols on adjacent reels, beginning with the leftmost, across 1 of 20 fixed win lines. Symbols available begin with non premiums, with Js, Qs, Ks, and As, awarding wins between 0.40 and 5x bet for 3 to 5 of a kind matches. At the premium end, we have horses, catapults, ships, and warriors – land 3 of a kind of any premium to see wins between 1 and 1.60x bet, increasing to values between 15 and 25x bet for 5 of a kind. A second warrior takes his place as the Wild symbol, substituting for all symbols except Bonus symbols, and appearing on all reels.
There are two kinds of Bonus symbol available in Shield of Sparta – the Bonus symbol, and the Magnetic Bonus symbol. If two of either Bonus symbol land in view, the reels will automatically re-spin once, giving a second chance for the third Bonus symbol to land.
And that's it for the base game. No tumbles, and no multipliers. It seems Shield of Sparta relies entirely on its' bonus round to bring excitement, so let's move on.
Shield of Sparta Bonus
Land 3, 4, or 5 of either Bonus symbol in view to trigger 10, 15, or 20 Free Spins, respectively. Free Spins are all about the Bonus symbols – any that land in view will have their position marked. When another Bonus symbol lands in this position, the position will be upgraded. This can happen a maximum of 3 times, through bronze, silver, and gold levels.
If a Magnetic Bonus symbol had landed, its' position will be magnetic, dragging any Bonus symbols that land on the same reel towards it. If a position is not magnetic but a Magnetic Bonus symbol lands in it, the position will be upgraded to magnetic.
At the end of Free Spins, all marked positions will reveal a multiplier, based on their level:
- Level 1 (Bronze) – x1, x2, or x3.
- Level 2 (Silver) – x5, x6, or x8.
- Level 3 (Gold) – x10, x12, x15, or x20.
Multipliers will then be added together and applied to the total win of Free Spins. During Free Spins, landing 3, 4, or 5 of either Bonus symbol will re-trigger the feature, awarding an additional +10, +15, or +20 spins, respectively.
The maximum win available in Shield of Sparta is 3,000x bet. If the sum of a single game round exceeds this, the game round will end, and 3,000x bet will be awarded.
There's nothing inherently wrong with Shield of Sparta, but it feels a bit lacklustre. The mechanic is a nice idea, and it bears remnants of Sweet Bonanza, Gates of Olympus, Starlight Princess, and more recently – Sword of Ares. Of course, in this case these multipliers reveal at the end, multiplying the entire round win, rather than each tumble. Still, it's interesting, and it feels like it could have really been something, but ended up just being a little tame.
With no Bonus Buy or Ante Bet available either, players have no choice but to stick it out for Free Spins, which is why it then feels weird that no base game feature is available. Even the re-spin would have been better swapped for multipliers when you land 2 Bonus symbols. Maths is highly (5/5) volatile, and RTP is 96.50% at its' highest, although 95.50% and 94.50% are both available, so as always it's worth checking. Finally, landing the right combinations of Bonus symbols and upgrades will produce wins up to 3,000x bet – slightly lower than we're used to from Pragmatic, but more than enough for the person who hits it.
Shield of Sparta is certainly worth a trial run, but I don't think too much should be expected outside of a decent feature – although for what it's worth, the nearly 400x above was our first bonus, which wasn't a bad first impression. This one will probably mainly appeal to die hard fans of Pragmatic Play, and that's just fine.
*The screenshots taken of games reviewed on this site are taken from Demo Play, as reviews are often written before games are released for real play.