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Setting an action-adventure RPG in Greek mythology sounds like it should be a winning idea. But for most of Rise of the Argonaughts I had to endure endless fetch quests and badly delivered dialogue to find a redeeming story. The entertaining combat is sadly kept to a minimum and only after struggling through five hours of turgid gameplay did the experience become worthwhile with the addition of famous heroes and monsters.
Having enjoyed the classic Jason and the Argonauts film for many years I was naturally excited about playing Rise of the Argonauts on the PS3. Settling down with the family and experiencing that same Saturday matinee magic seemed to be what the back of the box suggested. Unfortunately, Rise of the Argonauts doesn't quite live up to these expectations and it became immediately clear that I'd have to play this game on my own.
Within a few short minutes of the opening cut-scene I was thrusting spears and wielding hammers in the bloodiest way possible. Not exactly the family gaming experience I was expecting. I'm not averse to violence in video game when it's in context or appropriate, but ripping enemies in half with a blade seemed a little over the top for King Jason.
Settling down with the family and experiencing that same Saturday matinee magic.
Also over the top was the amount of errand running. From the very start I was sent on three letter-delivery missions that had me traversing the entire length of the map and back. When this type of gameplay is done well then it can be rewarding, but kicking off the game with this amount of running around quickly became tiresome. What made it worse was the fact these quests were wrapped in huge amounts of badly delivered dialogue. So bad that on more than two occasions my PS3 froze up completely and needed rebooting.
Games like Mass Effect 360 are excellent when it came to voice acting and dialogue choices. Argonauts however does nothing to reach this level of quality. With little consequence to your choices this section of the game started to look nothing more than needless exposition.
That's not to say this is a bad game, away from the dodgy dialogue and endless fetch quests, the combat (after I got over the initial gore-fest) has a decent amount of depth to it. Allocating points picked up through fights or quests lets you choose abilities that are allied with the various Gods and Goddesses. This gave me a nice smattering of bonuses to help me advance in combat situations - something a novice player may find very helpful as well.
It harkened back to the memories of that classic Argonauts film.
The greatest attraction of this game comes a little later on when you start to meet new heroes and monsters. It harkened back to the memories of that classic Argonauts film and I finally found myself getting sucked into the game when I was finally fighting alongside characters such as Achilles, Hercules and Atalanta. Here, the story drew me in and things became more enjoyable. So much so that other (grown up) members of the family became interested for the first time - it's just a shame that Argonauts shoots itself in the foot by having such an uninteresting first half.
Wading through five hours of boring quests and terrible voice acting nearly made me put down this game permanently. It's disappointing to see such great mythology and source material squandered like this with shoddy presentation and technical problems and I can see other, less tolerant gamers, unwilling to progress further than the opening level.
For family gamers this is also an isolating experience with such graphic violence on display. If this had been curbed then maybe the appeal of the classic film would have bled through instead.
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