We can say that we had our fair share of quality role playing games recently, with Fallout 3 and Mass Effect juicing with quality and able to offer endless hours of fun gameplay. However, one can never have enough RPGs in his life, so Rise of the Argonauts, a game published by Codemasters and developed by Liquid Entertainment seemed to be a great backup call for those moments when you wanted a tad more action and a bit less “role playing”. Was it quality or just a fuss? Read on our Rise of the Argonauts review and find out!
First of all, Rise of the Argonauts has a very solid concept to start with and is set in a world which, at least in theory, should offer endless possibilities of expanding the story: in the ancient Greek times, where heroes roamed freely, exploring new lands and fighting bizarre but impressive creatures.
The game draws its inspiration from the Greek mythology (namely Jason and the Argonauts) and puts you in the shoes of King Jason who, in order to save his loved one, must bring back the Golden Fleece. In his quest for resurrecting love, he will be helped by some ancient heroes – and that’s about all I can say about the story, without spoiling anything.
The gameplay is the most important thing in an RPG and Rise of the Argonauts doesn’t fail to deliver what it wants to. However, I don’t know if many people out there are willing to accept what it delivers (and I’m not being sarcastic!): being a mix of action and RPG with a bigger focus on action, combat sequences will mostly be limited to madly clicking and mechanically repeating attacks and dodge moves. So the more hardcore RPG fans won’t be too satisfied with what the game has to offer, at least not combat-wise.
They will be pleased, though, with the amount of dialogs in the game and the pleasant evolution of the story which, even though not brilliantly said, adds enough value to the game to keep you going. However, this could be translated as “too much talking” for those who prefer the action instead of the plot development – and this proves, once more, that when you try to mix two concepts, you might end up providing less than anticipated by the fans of each genre.
Even more, the way Rise of the Argonauts deals with the whole conversation element is a little bit dubious: instead of selecting a specific answer, you go for an emotion (anger, suspicion and so on), so you will never know exactly what you’re going to say. It’s interesting, but I prefer knowing the exact words I say. However, this little shiny addition doesn’t appear to influence the outcome of the conversation too much, which is an even bigger turn down for me. But at least Liquid Entertainment has gone for a Mass Effect-like system and you’ll be able to select your answer while the NPC is still speaking, making you lose less time and turning the actual conversation into a lifelike, natural one. With one exception: you won’t know what you’re going to say.
But, after all, the most important thing in Rise of the Argonauts is not talking, but fighting. You’ll encounter a varied and impressive array of enemies, including legendary beasts (and magical ones), like Titans, Centaurs, Satyrs – and basically everything that was ever noted in the Greek mythology. Unfortunately, the varied beasts are not so varied when it comes to fighting itself: they all seem to follow the same patterns and, after some bits of play time, you’ll know exactly how to time your combos and what to do in order to defeat them. You’ll be indeed a perfect fighting machine, but you’ll be doing too much of the same thing. (Of course, if you really wish to, you can go crazy and try to approach fights differently, but you are not forced to!)
Also, the characters who join you in battle (like Hercules or Achilles) are controlled exclusively by the AI and, given the fact that you have absolutely no control on what they’re doing, will only add to the chaos and randomness, completely eliminating the “strategy” in the fights and resuming the whole thing to pure, active button mashing.
The fact that the game focuses more on action (read: hack and slash) and less on RPG is obvious when it comes to character’s development: you don’t get any experience points, instead you complete “deeds”. These are tasks similar to achievements which can be, upon completion, dedicated to one of the four deities in the game, each offering a specific development tree of abilities and bonuses. So although there’s an element of character development, it’s easier and more straight to the point than one of a RPG. Even further away from your classic RPG is the fact that you can only carry one set of weapons and armor (normally the best one you have, unless you decide to “downgrade” them and go for a previous used one) and that, for RPG fans, will certainly be a turn off.
The visuals in Rise of the Argonauts are by far the game’s strongest point, with some eye candy graphics and settings able to make you forget about the rather repetitive combat sequences. The sounds in the game is also of high quality, with the voice acting being very well done, making you feel that you’re really in the ancient times, and of course backed up by an appropriate and well done soundtrack.
The main problem with Rise of the Argonauts is the fact that it tries to deliver both hack and slash action and RPG, and Liquid’s blender kind of fails. And although this game is far from being a poor one, given it’s setting and potential backgrounds, it is somewhat disappointing. However, if you can take it as it is and stop thinking about what it could’ve been, you’ll get a decent action title with enough depth to keep you busy, with varied enemies and tons of combat, but with fair amounts of randomness and repetitiveness. But we’ve seen worse and given the low amount of games similar to Rise of the Argonauts released recently, we can say it’s a good choice for the moment.
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