Rise of the Argonauts Xbox 360
Published by: Codemasters
Developed by: Liquid Entertainment
It's inevitable and perhaps a little unfair that Rise of the Argonauts, given the ancient Greek themes covered and the nature of the game, is going to draw comparisons with the God of War games. In some ways this is a bit of a disservice to both games as Rise of the Argonauts isn't just about combat and has a lot more to do with Greek mythology than God of War. On the other hand, the combat in Rise of the Argonauts is actually quite different to what you'd find in the God of War games and those expecting the game to be a similar experience in this respect are going to be in for an awful disappointment.
The game begins with King Jason's wife, Alceme of Mycenae, being murdered by a Blacktongue assassin's poisoned arrow. Jason is desperate to bring her back to life and refuses to let her be committed to the afterlife. Hercules suggests that they ought to find the shipwright and navigator Argo and ask him if he knows how to get to Delphi. Ultimately they are in search of the Golden Fleece and throughout the course of the game's storyline you'll meet a variety of characters from Greek mythology such as Hercules, Achilles and Atalanta. It's certainly a game that fans of Greek mythology should definitely get something from.
Those hoping for a God of War style action game are going to be in for a disappointment however. This game isn't just about combat and there's nowhere near as much as there is in the God of War games. You'll spend a lot of time going back and forth to complete objectives and you'll be engaging in quite a lot of conversations. This really slows the pace of the game down considerably and those looking for pure adrenaline-pumping action will feel that all of this is an unnecessary. Those of us who don't mind a bit of dialogue and who are looking for more of an RPG-like experience won't mind the breaks from the action. However, it has to be said that the dialogue can be quite tedious in places and some of it does seem pretty pointless in the grand scheme of things.
The combat in the game isn't terrible but it's not exactly memorable either. Jason can use swords, maces and spears and during the course of the game he'll acquire a good variety of each. He can change between these three weapons at any time during a battle and this ability can be used to gain an advantage over your enemies. Jason can perform light and heavy attacks with the X and Y buttons respectively. As the game develops you'll also acquire special attacks which can be performed with various weapons by holding down the RT button and pressing either the A, B, X and Y buttons. Jason can also evade enemy attacks and use his indestructible shield to block and bash his enemies. The problem with the combat is that it's very repetitive and there isn't much need to deviate from the same basic attack patterns for most of the game. The boss battles do require you to mix your strategy up a little however but these aren't enough to stop the combat from being rather dull.
During the course of the game Jason will accomplish all kinds of deeds ranging from those earned in combat to those earned by carrying out various acts of kindness. These deeds can then be dedicated to any of Jason's patron gods: Ares, Hermes, Apollo and Athena. In exchange for deeds being dedicated to them, the gods will bestow favour on Jason (favour can also be earned from a god by picking conversation choices that are in line with what those of that god, these are denoted by symbols that represent each of the four gods). As Jason's favour with a god grows, he'll earn Aspect points which can be used to gain new attacks or abilities, improve attributes and even give him god powers.
Visually speaking, Rise of the Argonauts is a mixed bag. There are some genuinely impressive environments in the game and at times it's visually pleasing. Those hoping for a gory experience will be pleased to learn that you'll see plenty of dismemberment in the game with heads, limbs and torsos flying around all over the place during the heat of battle. The game has its fair share of visual glitches which you'll particularly notice when panning the camera around with the right analogue stick. The camera incidentally can be a real pain at times and you'll have to manoeuvre it far more that you would like to. The frame rate doesn't manage to remain constant and there are times when it can become choppy, even when very little is happening on screen which is strange when the frame rate can be fine during some of the hectic action sequences. The general game interface could have been much better. I found it really annoying having to press the start button to access the map from the menu instead of simply being able to toggle on a mini-map.
Rise of the Argonauts does offer subtitles but you'll have to enable them as they are turned off by default. Even with the subtitles enabled however you'll be disappointed to find that when the opening movie plays, showing Jason's wife being assassinated, it's not subtitled. Comments made during the main game are subtitled and the dialogue is accompanied by the speaker's name. The subtitles are occasionally difficult to read however. The text isn't displayed in dialogue box or on any kind of darkened overlay and there are occasions when the white text clashes with the background it's displayed on. Tutorial messages are displayed in text. You're also notified in text of any deeds you accomplish. There is some dialogue, which isn't important to the storyline, which isn't subtitled but it's of no real importance although that's not to say it isn't disappointing. Objectives can be recalled and are displayed on the game's map screen.
Rise of the Argonauts would probably have been a better game had it simply been designed as an all out action game with an elaborate combo system or as an RPG with a more interesting script and more RPG mechanics to flesh out the experience. As it stands it's an awkward mix of the two genres and it's a mix that's not going to please many fans of either genre. It's certainly not a bad game and but those looking for action will be turned off by the lack of an in depth combo system and the quite lengthy periods between the combat. As an RPG, the game certainly isn't the best in the genre but it has its moments. That said, if you have a strong interest in Greek mythology, you'll definitely get some value from the game.