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February 2, 2009
Rise of the Argonauts - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
18/12/2008AtariCodemastersLiquid Ent.1None
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Some of the many ROTA characters.
As I mentioned in the preview for this game it is remarkable that there hasn't been more games based on Greek Mythology released over the years. Certainly the biggest release has been God of War (and its sequel) on the PS2, but beyond that there are few others of note. Rise of the Argonauts looks to become another contender but rather then a straight action title like Sony's release this game is an action RPG, but with much of the hardcore RPG element missing. Don't freak out though as that's a deliberate step taken by Liquid Entertainment to streamline, and simplify, the genre. But does it work? Read on...

In Rise and the Argonauts you take on the role of Jason, King of Iolcus and powerful, battle-hardened warrior. As the story begins you have everything - a prosperous kingdom, the respect of your citizens and the love of Alceme, your beautiful bride to be. This charmed existence ends when Alceme is killed by an assassin's arrow on your wedding day.

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Action is brutal but unrewarding!
Overcome with grief you vow to do anything to restore her. You hear of the Legendary Golden Fleece, on the list Isle of Tartarus, which is said to bring the dead back to life. In order to reunite with your beloved you must now prepare for the greatest voyage of all.

In terms of battles the games hero, Jason, has three weapons available at all times during the real-time combat; a sword, spear, and a mace. He also has a shield to block enemy attacks. He carries all three at once, and you can switch between them with the press of the L1/R1 buttons. For each of the weapons you have a normal attack, a heavy attack or a special attack, which often involves some magical powers.

Unfortunately during battles the other characters in your party such as Hercules, Achilles, Atlanta are pretty useless in regular combat. They'll take down the odd enemy here and there, but for the most part will stand around, get in your way and look pretty stupid. Infuriatingly you can't control the other characters or, criminally, can't issue orders to them to attack certain targets, get the hell out of your way, or, well, anything.

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Another battle in Rise of the Argonauts.
One of the more interesting and impressive aspects of this release is the conversations - or so it seems at first. As they take place you will be offered multiple choices in how the conversation should flow. While you would think this would allows the developers to branch the storyline in multiple paths, the actual result is much more restrained. No matter which way you go in many conversations, almost all the options would have been covered by the end, with the same result. Occasionally Jason will make decisions that may provide a new side quest or objective, but nothing fundamentally changes the game and within a few hours you will be selecting anything just to progress the game. As you complete more of the game you will also be able to 'purchase' new abilities from the four gods which can then be used in combat when they are mapped to the D-Pad. It's nothing that RPG fans haven't seen many times before.

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Captain Idas talks to Jason.
Sadly we do have quite a few issues with this title. My biggest complaint is the fact that the characters are so bland. Sure, the hero and his companions have a bit of life to them, and look different to one another, but the foot soldiers, the townsfolk, and other non-playable characters all look and behave so similar. It becomes a bit of a chore listening to the numerous conversations.

Another annoyance is that while we can understand Liquid Entertainment's choice to simplify the RPG genre and remove most of the stats, it wouldn't have hurt to keep them in there if you choose to look at them. Likewise it's hard to tell how you're going health wise without a health bar on screen - fortunately you can turn that, and the magic bar, back on!

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Character in Rise of the Argonauts look great.
Want something else? Well the games map system is horrendous. There's no in-game mini-map so you can navigate through the local area, and the only map to access is by pressing the Start Button, going to the map selection, and then you get something so tiny you can hardly see where everything is, where you are, and which way you are headed. Terrible. Another disappointments it that, despite being a party based RPG, there is no option to play multi-player either on a local machine or over the internet. Surely a co-op mode could have been possible with all the characters generally sticking together.

Finally the game isn't overly long, about 12-14 hours, and that includes the numerous dialogue driven scenes which probably take up a quarter of that time if not more. The problem is that while the game is longer then some, there simply isn't the level of excitement in triple-A titles.

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Setting sail on the high seas.
Using Unreal Technology/Engine to run the game we expected it to look pretty impressive. Indeed the characters and weapons are modeled fairly well although they are all still a little rough around the edges. As is often the case in video games, but perhaps a little more obvious in this game, many of the Non-playable characters look similar to each other but are 'disguised' with different hair colour or clothing. Still, we'll let that slide. The game includes a wide range of locations to explore, from cities, to caverns, to forests, to docks. Unfortunately these often lack subtle detail and suffer poor texturing.

Sadly though, and despite using this rather robust engine, the game manages to skip frames quite frequently. This is primarily when traversing the land at pace rather then during combat, but it's quite annoying nonetheless and really brings the production quality down considerably.

As with other aspects of this game sonically Rise of the Argonauts is a bit of a mixed bag. Music has been composed by Tyler Bates whose recent works include the movie 300 and the TV show Californication, and the music in Rise of the Argonauts suits the game pretty well. What should be a highlight of this game - the dialogue - is actually one of the most disappointing aspects with little emotion, and some rather stale presentation. It also seems that almost everyone has the same accent in the game - and even that is pretty bland. The effects aren't quite as good as the speech or music, but get the job done.

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Effects are quite spectacular.
Ultimately Rise of the Argonauts is an average action RPG. Stripping away the stat heavy emphasis of RPG games may have sounded like a good idea, but in the end it leaves this game feeling a bit shallow. Visually the characters look good, the backgrounds a bit average but the frame rate issues are inexcusable.

On almost every level this game is sub-par and is really only for, well, who knows. It's not hardcore RPG fans, it's not casual gamers, it's certainly not those that love eye candy. Actually, I know, it's one for the bargain bin!

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse.
GRAPHICSIn some places this game looks good, in others it's the dogs bollocks.
SOUNDThe music is pretty impressive, the dialogue isn't too exciting though.
GAMEPLAYA pretty basic hack and slash game which does't do anyting new.
VALUEThe storyline plods along, the gameplay won't have you back. No multi-player.
OVERALLRise of the Argonauts promised so much but delivered so little. One that fans of the greek mythology and RPG's may want to pick up - but not at full price.

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