|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Liquid Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Codemasters||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 15, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
That's well and good, and the control setup is intuitive and responsive. When it comes right down to it, though, walking up to an opponent and hammering the buttons works perfectly well. You soon catch on to each enemy style, and aside from some basic strategy and timing (making sure you're only fighting one enemy at once when possible, pushing enemies away or rolling when it gets crowded, avoiding bosses' attacks, etc.), there's not much to it. Even when you run out of life, you don't die right away; if you can avoid taking damage for a little bit, you'll regenerate health. The hacking and slashing is still fun, especially given the generous splashes of blood, but it never feels like you're accomplishing anything.
All these flaws stem from the difficulty of making a good action-RPG, so they're at least understandable, if not forgivable. The additional problems are less so: Argonauts doesn't even get the basics of game design right. One issue the developers should have resolved is that in order to see the map, you have to pause, wait a split-second for the menu to load, and select "Map." Considering you'll be exploring a relatively big world, traveling from one icon on that map to another, you'll be doing this a lot. There should be a mini-map on the screen at all times, or at least one a single button press away.
Also, the pacing is terrible. The game begins with Alceme's murder, and it proceeds to a series of fights that help you get a grip on the controls. From there, though, there's a huge span in which you're doing nothing but walking around and talking to people. In a lot of places, the game feels like long periods of boredom peppered with occasional battles.
Then there's the awful voice acting that accompanies the hours of conversation. Sometimes the actors have the writers to blame; no one could make the words "That Blacktongue called you Medea. I assume that's your name?" seem unscripted. Yet just as often, they prove able to make the simplest statements sound self-conscious and unnatural. It doesn't help that the character models' faces and lips don't move quite right, either.
Perhaps most noticeable are the constant graphical glitches. The developers used the Unreal Engine 3, which allowed them to create detailed and good-looking environments based on research into Greek history. As soon as you walk through the world and move the camera around, however, you'll experience some serious framerate drops. When you cover a lot of ground quickly, the game will sometimes stop entirely and take a second to load. It's a very distracting problem, and one that should have been fixed.
If there's an upside to this game, it's that despite the shallow combat system, it's rather amusing to spill blood in battle. That's a small upside for a game that costs $60 and demands you sit through hours of talking just to kill stuff.
CCC Freelance Writer