Rise of the Argonauts

  • Released on Dec 16, 2008
  • By Liquid Games for PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Rise of the Argonauts review
All filler, no killer


Rise of the mediocre!
I really hate it when developers rush a game out the door for a quick and easy buck during an important time, like when a movie is just released, or in time for the holiday season. Rise Of The Argonauts was released just a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2008, making people think that it'd make the end-all be-all decision for the game to buy. Unfortunately, it's a rushed product, so there are a fair amount of problems that would've been fixed if it waited until 2009's holiday season. These problems range from anger-inducing to shit that would make you want to return the game at full price, plus some interest.

An RPG, only in spirit.
It seems that if you can't emulate excellent or famous action games like Dynasty Warriors, Shadow Of Rome or God Of War, you'll slap an RPG label on it. Infinite Undiscovery got away with it... oh wait, this game has a good story that is developed a bit more than your typical hack and slash game, and isn't tedious 99% of the time... My mistake guys.

So anyway, the story revolves around Jason, king of Iolcus, favored city of Zeus, the lord of Olympus. In the midst of your wedding, your wife is assassinated by unknown assailants, and your palace is then under siege. after the assault, you make the difficult decision of risking her being lost forever as you embark on quest for a godly artifact with the power to give life to the dead, the mythical Golden Fleece, instead of giving your wife her last rites and letting her pass safely into the afterlife. Your adventure follows Jason as he traverses ancient Greece in his quest for the fleece and revenge against those who killed his wife.

Sounds epic, right? Well, yeah. The events that unfold throughout manage to keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next event to happen. Greek history buffs and enthusiasts will need to keep a few tissues on the side. Even if this isn't the most accurate representation of Greek mythology, it's epic enough to keep your interest, and hey, it tries really hard too.

This aspect of storytelling could've been the best way to make the plot more interactive, less linear and just better than it already is. If you've ever played Mass Effect, you'll recognize this straight away - decision points. During cutscenes, you can select one of four options. Unlike in Mass Effect where it completely changes the story depending on your decision, it changes the dialogue for some scenes and changes your god power... and that’s it. I was left speechless at how half hearted this felt. I felt that boner wasn't satisfied with this. Again, it could've made the plot more deep and involving, but it didn't. I won't take too many points off for this, because at least another company is taking a stab at a sort of Bioware storytelling trademark, but again, it wasn't anything satisfying in the end, and just felt like an unnecessary addition.

When in doubt, refer to the map.
Since story takes up about half the game, what about the actual gameplay? Well, that’s divided into two sections – exploration and combat.

Exploration takes up a bit more space than combat, which makes you wonder because the paths are, for the most part, linear. Sure, there’s the occasional fork in the road, or some branching paths, and they can typically lead to sidequests as well as where you’re going during the main quest.

What sucks the big one is the map. First off, there’s no minimap, which means pausing the game to get the map up. It takes a couple of seconds for the menu to come up after pressing start. Then, through some cumbersome navigation (I’m not sure what’s more annoying; trying to explain it with the right words, or navigating through this menu), we find the map. Shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but every other game manages a minimap – why not this?

Shadow Of Greece.
I've heard comments about this game sporting a good fighting engine, much like that of God Of War. Bullshit. All it basically is is that you meet the enemy, smash or disarm his shield, and then wail on him. Rinse, lather and repeat for every enemy in the game. Sure, dealing with shield disarming/shattering takes a while, making it a pain in the ass to deal with at first, but once you learn, it's just a matter of doing it again... and again... and again... Seriously, there's repetitive, and then there's doing the exact same shit over and over again. Guess which side of the thick line combat stands on...

It tries the whole rock-paper-scissors thing with the weapons, like swords being better than spears, spears surpassing maces, and maces are better than swords. Most of the time, though, you’ll probably use the sword. The other weapons aren’t necessarily bad; it’s just that the sword is easier to handle and use, and you don’t exactly need the weapon advantage, since if you have basic dodging skills, you can destroy most enemies with the sword.

Allies... what miserable saps! Much likes allies in other games of this nature (Kingdom Hearts, Viking: Battle For Argard), they serve as distractions. I guess if that was the point, then cool... I guess. But I know that’s not the point. They don’t really do much more than stand and use weak attacks, and nothing more.

I summon the power of Allah! Oh wait, my sword killed the enemy. Never mind!
There is an opportunity to use god powers, and depending on how you handle conversations, your god power may be different. Now, remember when I said that the decisions didn’t matter much? This is because the god powers are essentially useless. You can beat the combat portions of the game by mashing square and maybe triangle a few times. They add this combo tree of sorts which is the level up system of the game, and by doing deeds, you can have it help you towards leveling up a god skill of your choice, but who cares? Your weapon alone can destroy armies! The powers just feel under developed, and if they were developed more, they could give us all a run for our money.

You really want to know why combat really feels less engaging that it should be? It's because it feels so slow and boring! Maybe it's because I've been spoiled by God Of War and Devil May Cry over the years, but the combat here just feels sluggish. It doesn’t even try to get you into it. It’s just a simple button masher with combos you’ll probably never use, and only a few enemies will kill you, if at all. Bumping up the difficulty doesn’t help this... it’ll surely feel more challenging, but it still feels boring! It’s pretty much the bare basis of all hack and slash games... It tries to be intuitive with the god powers, but they’re nothing special or interesting. I don’t know how else to describe why combat feels so... well, boring!

Should’ve stayed in the deep fryer a bit longer.
This game’s biggest fault lies in the glitches. Many times, you will be running through a town or an area with not many (if any) people or anything going onscreen, only to have the fps counts go all over the place.

If that’s not bad, then try the ever so aggravating freezing glitch, which forces you to reload your last save (obviously, they didn’t have enough time to playtest this game). The fact that the game saves whenever it wants as opposed to when you want it to (oh, you can go hit save on the menu; just expect to load it at the beginning of the level when you come back from holiday or a freeze glitch), which can result in repeating small yet annoying missions and deeds.

There are a fair amount of graphical and audio glitches like audio cutting off or textures taking time to load, but the first two I mentioned... oh, they’re minor inconveniences at first, but after a while, you just want to go and kill people right after snapping this disc. The worst part is that some copies actually have little to no glitches, yet some have a whole lot. Guess you have to be lucky in picking the right copy.

One end awesome; other end needs work.
In terms of audio... well, I mentioned sound cutting off at points. Most notable is the dialog, which is a huge pain in the ass because the voice acting is actually pretty impressive. Soundtrack isn’t cut off nearly as much, which is okay since it sounds nice when you’re playing through it. Just don’t expect to remember it too much, because it’s not memorable. It sounds pretty damn epic with an orchestra and all that jazz, but nothing really hooks you into it.

In terms of graphics, however, I’m not impressed. Again referring to the glitches, some textures take time to load... well, some do. Others, well, these bland looking textures are all you’re getting. You can go entire cutscenes without textures coming in, which is a real pain in the ass, and draw distance sucks. Textures can look fine from afar, but bland up close. There’s much more I can say, but honestly, the graphics are utter trash. The only good thing here is the animation – smooth and radiant.

Rush of the Argonauts?
Setting a release date one or two holiday seasons too early is the main downfall here, and it's made evident by some shoddy programming, dull graphics and some parts that generally feel unfinished. It had good intentions, but it screwed itself over in the end, meaning that it doesn't come as recommended to anybody. If you're interested in the story, just wait for Newgrounds to host a Rise Of The Argonauts flash - it'll be better than this game.

Rise of the scores:
Story: 8/10
Well, this is the one thing this game does correctly. The story is told well, and its an epic tale, well worth paying attention to. I really enjoyed the story that the game told. Not really digging the Mass Effect-esque decision parts during cutscenes, since they do nothing for the story anyway.
Gameplay: 4/10
It has the basic conventions executed alright, but there isn't really any fun to be had, nor does it have a good pace to it. There are also some really annoying glitches throughout.
Controls: 8/10
Eh, it has the usual sort of controls and they respond well enough. Overall, the only other high point of the game, despite some... navigational issues for the menus.
Graphics: 4/10
About as bland and generic as it gets in terms of ingame graphics. Textures are ordinary, colors are boring and a few other questionable things like characters disappearing during cutscenes, or reacting differently than you'd expect them to. What about the menus? They can shove it up their ass, this is a shit menu, being all slow moving and stuff.
Sound: 7/10
Dialogue cuts off randomly... That sucks when you consider the excellent voice acting. Soundtrack isn't noticable nor memorable, but it at least creates a mood befitting to the setting.
Other: -7.5

Overall: 4.5/10

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