Putting the Arrgh in RPG
August 11, 2008 – Long in development, Rise of the Argonauts is the upcoming Greek mythology action RPG that has gotten a lot of attention in the past year from both gamers and media. Publisher Codemasters and developer Liquid Entertainment are promising Rise will be a unique blend of action and role-playing that will satisfy fans of both genres, and with a recent showing at E3, lots of new information about the game should intrigue PS3, 360, and PC gamers alike.
Essentially, Rise of the Argonauts will have you reenacting the Greek legend of the Golden Fleece, with exclusive differences to better suit a more in-depth storyline. In contrast to the classic tale, Jason, the King of Iolcus, is not commanded to seek out the Fleece, but embarks on a journey to recover the magical garment after his fiancée is assassinated on their wedding day. As he follows his heart to bring his love back to life, Jason will travel to approximately 15 different islands on his vessel, the Argo, collecting items and defeating enemies along the way. With the ultimate goal of finding the Golden Fleece, you will be joined by fellow warriors who will help you on your journey, each with their own characteristics.
Probably the biggest asset to the crew will be Jason’s best friend, Hercules. You don’t have to be familiar with Greek mythology to know what this guy does. He’s the muscle of the operation and is considerably larger than the rest of the group, able to brawl and defeat the toughest of enemies as well as use his strength whenever needed. Achilles will be by your side as well and comes equipped with a double-bladed spear for rapidly hacking up attackers, though his cockiness and intentions for self-glory may cause problems along the way. Atalanta is the cunning female of the group – an archery expert whose skills will come in handy. Pan is the magician and wise man, able to summon earth magic and provide knowledge that will help you in key points of the game. You will be able to choose two people to join you in fights, though you won’t be able to switch back and forth between them to control whomever you want. You will only play as Jason, and your allies will help you out as best they can by defeating surrounding attackers. If you battle close enough to one of your friends, occasionally you’ll be able to pull off random double-team attacks as well.
As you travel about, the game will have you battling against famous Greek mythological creatures including Minotaur, giant molten rock men, and in one sequence you will have to defeat Medusa, who spews giant snakes in your direction. Not only will Rise of the Argonauts feature considerably more action than the average action RPG, but combat will lack a HUD for an experience unlike any game of its sort. Liquid has created more involved combat and much more freedom while fighting with less use of the menu to carry out the actions you want. Rise of the Argonauts will be unique in that damage and health effects will be shown directly on the body of Jason, your crew, and your enemies, as opposed to a health meter or bar. As you strike an enemy, effects will be shown physically on your opponent in the form of gashes and bruises. However, those who prefer to feature a HUD in combat will have the option to turn it on if desired.
Rather than traditional, simplistic combat found in most RPGs, when you strike at an enemy, it will also have the ability to block or dodge out of the way for a bit more of a challenge. Different opponents will come with different skills and levels of toughness, so you will have to cause more damage on some enemies depending on who you’re facing. Jason is a weapons and combat expert and will be able to use four weapons – the spear, the mace, the sword, and a shield, which can be used for offense as well as defense. As you progress through the game, you’ll be able to find five different upgrades for the spear, mace, and spear, which you can collect and use when you need them. For example, you’ll be able to create maces that can do more damage than before and super-sharp spears capable of piercing through enemy shields. While battling, one button will be your light attack, another button will be designated for your shield attack. Then you’ll have one button for evading and another for your finishing move. Depending on which weapon you use, Jason will inhabit a different fighting style for each, and you will be able to switch between weapons in midst of a combo to create some unique moves.
With more focus on combat, there will be bloody, gory animations to go along with it. As opposed to typical hack-and-slash RPG combat, if you swing your sword at an enemy’s head, you’ll decapitate him. If you swing at his arm, he’ll lose his limb. Developers have released some information on special attacks available to unlock as you play through the game as well.
The Gates of Tartarus is a move that sends enemies into a black hole, while ripping their souls out of their bodies in a bloody explosion. The Rage of Ares is another attack that will have enemies explode in a cloud of blood-spray, as they are sent flying into the air. And the Storm of Spears move does exactly as its name suggests, as you are able to rapidly chuck spears at an enemy to turn him into mincemeat.
Developers haven’t revealed exactly how many islands you will be able to travel through in Rise of the Argonauts, but they do say it will be around 15. They have confirmed Jason and his crew will travel across different Greek kingdoms including the aforementioned Iolcus, as well as Mycenae, Kythra, and Delphi. The Argo isn’t only your means of transportation to get you to each island, but your ship is where you’ll store your collection of weapons, armor, and other travelers you can pick up and collect on the way. Jason will be able to assemble different suits of armor as well, which can be upgraded with attachments for added protection and functions you can use when most needed.
Where many action RPGs in the past have failed to deliver a perfect blend of action and role-playing to satisfy fans of either genre, Codemasters and Liquid are admittedly trying to create a title that will balance the two. They say action fans will be satisfied with the amount of capabilities they will have when battling opponents, and RPG fans will appreciate the strategy involved as well as the ancient lore which will be brought to life. Only time will tell how gamers take to Rise of the Argonauts when it hits stores this September.