Jason and the Argonauts. A story that has been told and retold so many times and in so many ways. From the classic Greek tellings to Ray Harryhausen and his stop motion animated monsters. Now we have Jason and his Argonauts at our fingertips as a game.
The first thing that struck me about the graphics was the colours. They are vibrant and just plain beautiful. Generally speaking though, the graphics are average. The skins are all flat and have no depth. An example of this is when looking at a character’s flowing robes; the details aren’t in 3D. Given the power of the PS3 and Xbox 360 this shouldn’t have been a difficult feat to achieve.
One other thing that kept niggling at me while playing was that everyone seemed to walk about a centimetre above the ground making it feel like everyone was floating slightly. There isn’t a visible gap between the feet and the ground, but characters’ movement just feels that way.
Visually it isn’t bad to look at, but I expected so much more from Codemasters making a game for the current generation of consoles.
Listening to Rise of the Argonauts fares pretty well. The music is subtle and fitting and the sounds in combat are okay. The voice acting isn’t too bad either. The only voice that bugged me a little was Ares’; it just felt out of place for the God of War. The music plays softly in the background and doesn’t overwhelm you. I often find the ambient music of games annoying, but for once the music here was what it was supposed to be; ambient.
For anyone who is familiar with the original story of Jason and the Argonauts and is annoyed by changes to a classic story; you may not wish to play this game. Codemasters has taken small elements of the original story, like the Golden Fleece and the Argo ship for example, and turned them into a completely different story. The story of Rise of the Argonauts resembles the original only in passing and has some shared elements. That said, the story isn’t a bad one. They have written their own story and told it rather well. It will bug anyone who is familiar with the traditional version, but do your best to ignore what you know and enjoy what Codemasters have created.
Towards the beginning of the game you gain the support of four of the Olympian Gods; Ares, Athena, Apollo and Hermes. Almost everything you do will refer back to these four.
Conversation scenes aren’t just about sitting there listening to people talk, luckily. During conversations you have reply and question options that you can select. If you select an option before whomever you’re talking to has finished, it doesn’t interrupt them. This means you have to finish listening to someone talking before you say anything. Usually you want to wait until they finish before making your selection anyhow, as what they’re saying may have an impact on your choice. Also, your conversation options are aligned to one of the four Gods I mentioned previously.
As you do more you complete deeds. These aren’t laid out for you, they just happen as you complete missions and travel through the story. These deeds do have a purpose though that is very important. These deeds essentially replace experience points and levels. As you complete the deeds you can dedicate them to one of the four Gods that are “sponsoring” you.
Conversation choices and dedicated deeds both gain you favour to the Gods. There is a meter showing how much favour you have currently with each God. As you gain enough favour you gain Aspect Points. These Aspect Points are used to skills and powers, called Aspects. Each God has their own set of Aspects that you can learn. These Aspects are centred around combat, but they can vary in what they do. Some are passive skills that just make you do more damage; while others give you special God Powers that can be mapped onto your D-Pad for easy use.
Combat isn’t overly complicated. The four buttons are heavy, light and shield attacks and a dodge. Your D-Pad is where you map your God Powers to and your R2 trigger is for activating special attacks that are unleashed in combination with one of the attack buttons. It can be a bit of a button mash at times, but there’s really nothing for you to mess up in the way of things like combo moves or special sequence of button pressing. This simple systems works well. Sometimes combat doesn’t need to be complex.
When you’re not progressing the main storyline you also have the option of side quests. These can usually be found by making sure you talk to everyone who will give you the time of day. The down side of taking these side quests is that you’ll end up doing a fair bit of back and forth to complete them. It does add some extra depth to the story though and helps immerse you in the word that has been created for you.