| Casino Review May 2023
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Shield of Sparta

Disturbed slot

Imagine, if you will, a windswept Peloponnesian plateau spearing down into the rough wintery waters of the Ionian Sea. A wizened soothsayer puts his hand on a warrior’s shoulder and tells him of the great battles he will win, the lands he will conquer, and one day a long time hence, the glory retold in countless online slots. No doubt the warrior would have been a little confused about that last divination, but not us, due to the number of Ancient Greek slots on the market. Here’s another one to try, from Pragmatic Play carrying the name Shield of Sparta.

Shield of Sparta splits its time between a rugged coastal location in its base game and a battle scene for the bonus round. Pragmatic Play hasn’t exactly dug deep into the theme to come up with much that will surprise players familiar with the subject matter. We get the usual run of warriors, helms, swords, ships, chariots — all that sort of stuff. Visually, Shield of Sparta is by no means minging, but its stock look isn’t the most inspirational either.

Shield of Sparta slot

To the stats, Shield of Sparta is a highly volatile slot, though not one which holds back its bonus round, letting it loose when users have just about given up all hope. At least, that’s the way it was for us during testing, where free spins triggered quite frequently. Three RTP values are possible, and a quick look at the paytable will let you know if you’ve got the standard 96.5%, or the 95.5%/94.5% version on your screen. Any device may be used to play Shield of Sparta, offering bet selections from 30 p/c to £/€100 per spin.

Framed by Ancient Greek architecture is a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with 20 paylines for landing combinations of three to five-of-a-kind across. The first four pay symbols on the table are J-A card ranks, paying 5x the bet for five-of-a-kind; then come chariots, catapults, ships, and warriors as the four high-pays, worth 15 to 25 times the stake for five-of-a-kind. Appearing on all reels is the close-up headshot of a warrior wild symbol, which substitutes for all symbols except the bonus symbol.

Shield of Sparta: Slot Features

Shield of Sparta slot

Not exactly a features bonanza, Shield of Sparta nevertheless offers a bonus symbol respin in the base game and a free spins bonus round with a total win multiplier component.

Bonus Symbols

Shield of Sparta has two types of bonus symbols – a regular one and a magnetic one. They appear on all reels, and when 2 bonus or magnetic bonus symbols hit, they are locked in place while the rest of the symbols respin once. Hitting 3 or more bonus or magnetic bonus symbols triggers free spins.

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Free Spins

Landing 3, 4, or 5 bonus or magnetic bonus symbols awards 10, 15, or 20 free spins, respectively. For the free spins round, the positions where the triggering bonus or magnetic bonus symbols landed are highlighted with a frame. Whenever a new bonus symbol lands in a marked position, the position is upgraded – up to a maximum of three levels. Now, positions which were marked with a magnetic bonus symbol are magnetic positions. They nudge any bonus symbol that lands on their reel towards them. If a position is not magnetic, but a magnetic bonus symbol lands there, it is upgraded to be magnetic.

At the end of the free spins round, all of the marked positions display a random multiplier depending on their level. Level 1 could be x1, x2, or x3, Level 2 could be x5, x6, or x8, while Level 3 could be x10, x12, x15, or x20. The multipliers are added together, and the value is applied to the total win of the free spins round. While the feature is active, landing 3, 4, or 5 bonus or magnetic bonus symbols retriggers the round with 10, 15, or 20 free spins, respectively.

Shield of Sparta slot

Shield of Sparta: Slot Verdict

Not being Ancient Greek scholars, the inclusion of a catapult symbol got us wondering when exactly they burst onto the scene. Maybe it’s because you don’t really see King Leonidas and the team using siege weapons in the movie ‘300’? After delving into the history of warfare for a bit, it appears catapults were used in Greece in the fourth century BC, though they did crop up earlier in China, India and Judah. In other words, catapults do fit right in Shield of Sparta, being a slot with a focus on fighting and warfare.

If Shield of Sparta was a war, then the base game, with its lack of any sort of major feature, is like Hoplites marching to a battlefield before squaring off and staring down their enemies. Once triggered, free spins are where the action has a chance of being ratcheted up a degree, thanks to the framed position/multiplier element. As mentioned, free spins triggered relatively often during testing, so the low-thrills base game was interrupted enough to prevent it from getting overly tedious, and the framed positions leading to multipliers were occasionally interesting. The end of the bonus round phase has the potential to get somewhat tense, as random multipliers appear on the framed spaces before being added up and applied to the total round win. Don’t expect monstrous results, though, as Shield of Sparta’s max win has been capped at 3,000x he bet.

Not exactly Thermopylae levels of glory, but a number commensurate with the rest of what Shield of Sparta delivers — pretty basic gaming set in an unimaginative yet fairly eye-pleasing slot world. The framed position/multiplier feature in Shield of Sparta’s free spins phase has a level of creativity to it, but it doesn’t seem to be one that Pragmatic Play particularly desired to spend a vast amount of effort or resources developing.

10 best Star Wars games you should play today

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

The best Star Wars games will give you adventure, lightsabers, and a galaxy far, far away. Given the massive popularity of this franchise over the decades, it should come as no surprise that there’s been over 100 video games set in this universe. But naturally there are a handful which remain absolute must plays, and that’s what you’ll find here – as we rank the best Star Wars games that you need to experience.

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With the release of Jedi: Survivor, the first of many upcoming Star Wars games in 2023, we have updated this list to include the fantastic new action-adventure from Respawn. But you’ll also find a great mix of shooters, RPGs, flight-sims and more, which showcases just how broad of a reach this series has. So keep on reading to find our pick of the best Star Wars games.

10. Star Wars Squadrons

Developer: Motive Studio
Released: 2020

There were three video games vying for this spot on the list. Star Wars: Tie Fighter, legendary 1994 space-flight combat sim; Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2, one of the best GameCube games; and Star Wars Squadrons, which is effectively a modern love letter to the pair of them. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be in the middle of one of Star Wars’ iconic space battles, manually piloting beautiful ships through deadly dogfights, then Squadrons is the game for you. It’s exhilarating, exhausting, and utterly unforgettable. You don’t need a VR headset or flight stick to enjoy this experience, but the pair will help create an unbreakable sense of immersion.

RELATED: Star Wars: Squadrons review: «Turns idle daydreams into tangible experiences»

9. Star Wars: Empire at War

Developer: Petroglyph Games
Released: 2006

Star Wars: Empire at War is special. There was this little window of time where legendary film franchises were investing heavily in the real-time strategy genre, and thank the Force that they did because it gave us Empire at War. Set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, you’re charged with leading vast armies into massive-scale battles – sitting above the action to dictate the movements of your favorite Star Wars factions. The ground-wars were certainly fun and full of spectacle, but it was the awe-inspiring space battles which helped establish Empire at War as one of the best RTS games of its time. The genre has come a long way since 2005, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had with this classic.

8. Star Wars: The Old Republic

Developer: BioWare
Released: 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic is a true achievement. BioWare may have left Knights of the Old Republic behind to turn its attention to original IPs like Dragon Age, Jade Empire, and Mass Effect, but it never walked away from Star Wars entirely. In fact, this studio has been telling Star Wars stories for over a decade now, slowly expanding its own little corner of the universe with one of the best MMORPGs that you can play today. Sure, The Old Republic will always be fighting against the ghost of Star Wars Galaxies (you know, the original version) for some players out there, but the truth is that The Old Republic is one of the finest Star Wars roleplaying opportunities out there.

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7. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Released: 2019

When Respawn was founded in 2010, by much of the team responsible for making Call of Duty the behemoth that it is, the studio set its sights on redefining the FPS genre. That’s why we were surprised to learn that Respawn was wading into a galaxy far, far away for a third-person action game which drew inspiration from action-RPGs and metroidvanias. We were even more surprised to discover just how fantastic Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was. This confident, and capable action game introduced the world to a new Star Wars hero, gave us plenty of space to explore lush alien worlds, and delivered the sort of tight lightsaber combat we had only ever dreamed of one day experiencing.

RELATED: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order review: «Gets what makes the series special»

6. Star Wars Jedi Knight 2 – Jedi Outcast

Developer: Raven Software
Released: 2002

Long before Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi games set a new standard for third-person action games in the Star Wars universe, it was Star Wars Jedi Knight 2 – Jedi Outcast which was considered the gold standard. Raven Software brought about the return of Kyle Katarn – protagonist of the incredible ’90s FPS Star Wars: Dark Forces – and gave the former Jedi the opportunity to regain his connection with the Force, and with it, us the opportunity to experience what it would be like to singlehandedly take on the Empire. With its excellent single-player campaign and surprisingly tight multiplayer arenas, Jedi Outcast remains a truly wonderful adventure through the Star Wars universe.

5. Star Wars: Republic Commando

Developer: LucasArts
Released: 2005

Star Wars: Republic Commando arrived at the height of Rainbow Six’s popularity and quickly proved that Tom Clancy didn’t have total command over the tactical-FPS space. Republic Commando put aside the eternal battle between Jedi and the Sith, instead putting you in control of an elite group of Clone Troopers who were charged with working behind enemy lines during the Clone Wars. With its awesome setpieces, flexible order system, and weighty gunplay, Republic Commando stands alone as one of the most unique Star Wars games ever made. An enhanced port of the game was released for PS4 and Switch in 2021 which makes it easier than ever to experience one of the best original Xbox games.

RELATED: Star Wars: Republic Commando retrospective: How a prequel spin-off redeemed itself by rejecting all things Jedi

4. Star Wars Battlefront 2

Developer: Pandemic Studios
Released: 2005

While we have a lot of love around here for DICE’s modern revival of the Battlefront series, there’s no beating the original games for the outrageous scale and pure carnage they were able to deliver. 2005’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 works as well as it did, not only because it made you feel like a small cog in the much larger war machine, as you joined with either Resistance or Empire forces on some of Star Wars’ most iconic battlegrounds, but because you always had the agency to turn the tide of a battle. With its massive-scale multiplayer skirmishes, beautiful visual design, and arcadey-action, Star Wars Battlefront 2 is iconic.

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3. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

Developer: TT Games
Released: 2022

To put it simply enough: Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is one of the best Lego games ever made. Traveller’s Tales has spent almost two decades creating Lego games, and The Skywalker Saga was an opportunity for the studio to return to the film franchise that started it all. TT Games took that opportunity to build an incredible package, one which covers all nine films that make up The Skywalker Saga. There’s plenty of the heart and humor that this series has become renowned for delivering of course, and an expanded set of combat and movement mechanics which transforms this experience into something that’s as deep as it is open and entertaining for kids of all ages.

RELATED: Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga review: «At last, this is the droid you are looking for»

2. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Released: 2023

Respawn put down strong foundations with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and built something truly magnificent atop them with this sequel. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor picks up five years after Cal Kestis’ ascent to Jedi Knight, tracking his attempts to deepen his understanding of the Force and circumvent the forces of the Empire. With its twisting metroidvania design, stunning art direction and environmental design, excellent lightsaber combat, and surprisingly heartfelt narrative, Jedi: Survivor is proof that video games can have just as much impact on the Star Wars timeline as the movies and TV shows that have defined the shape of the franchise. Do yourself a favor, and take your time exploring what is undoubtedly one of the best games of 2023.

RELATED: Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review: «More ambitious, confident, and heartfelt than Fallen Order»

1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Developer: BioWare
Released: 2003

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic may be 20 years old, but it’s still heralded as the Best Star Wars game to this day for good reason. Developer BioWare crafted an intricate RPG here, one where you are charged with defining your own path (and alignment with the Force) thousands of years before the formation of the Galactic Empire. Boasting one of the best video game stories, fantastic character building, and an expansive series of planets to explore, KOTOR is a definitive experience that is a must play for anyone who has dreamed of one day becoming a Jedi. A remake is reportedly in development, but the original is still an absolute must-play experience.

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