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Rise of the Argonauts: Impressions

I picked up Rise of the Argonauts for fifteen dollars last week, and I must say, Iím pleased with it so far. Itís essentially a retelling of the classic Greek tale of Jason and the Argonauts, except in this incarnation Jasonís wife is assassinated and Jason goes on a quest to retrieve the golden fleece in order to bring her back to life.

This is probably one of the buggiest games I can remember playing. Characters pop and twitch, when they arenít talking they stop blinking, movement is sometimes difficult or unresponsive, camera angles cut in strangely during dialogue, there is no onscreen map, and the lack of body language during extended cutscenes does nothing to help the games lengthy, Bioware-esque conversations.

But you know what? Iím enjoying it. The combat has been sparse, but the fights are entertaining. Maybe it helped since Iím playing on hard mode, but the dodge, block, strike at openings style of gameplay has a lot of ďoompfĒ to it. You use a sword, shield, and spear, the latter of which is my current favorite for its reach and agility, reminding me of Troy and 300. There is no onscreen health bar, or anything onscreen for that matter, and I havenít been having any problem with that at all, I rather enjoy it. Jasonís physicality is believable, whereas God of Warís Kratos is a superhuman Greek, Jason has much more of an India Jones flair about him, that heís an ordinary man trained to rigorous physical ability.

Most of the game is spent in dialogue trees. I love what theyíve done with the branching tree system, like in Mass Effect. You have options, each aligned with a different god, which shows up as a differently colored symbol in the center of the convo tree. Ares for angry responses, Apollo for just and logical responses, Hermes for witty retorts, and Athena for wise words. Responses give you xp to be spent on each god to power up. But the phrases listed only allude to what Jason is actually going to say or do. Take a situation that unfolded on the Mycenean docks. An Ionian mercenary insulted Jason for allowing his wife to die, calling him the biggest coward in Greece. He said his home island of Iolus was weak like its king. The Apollo aligned response was, ďDefend Iolus.Ē I selected it, and Jason proceeded to sock that son of a bitch right in the mouth. I practically shrieked with joy.

Though the dialogue is technically sound and well voiced (mostly), the bugs really put a damper on it. Awkward pauses which should have been smoothed out in editing, along with the aforementioned problems with character movement, cast a pall over what is generally good writing. Itís unfortunate, but if you can work past it, thereís a fun story being told here. Rise of the Argonauts is a retelling, like God of War, but it has none of the satirical, postmodern outlook of its predecessor. Rise of the Argonauts seems much more like what the Greeks would have thought of their epics in their own time, full of bold heroes in classic Greece doing Greek things. Hell, it has almost as much dialogue in it as the Iliad! If that doesnít make it Greek, I donít know what does.

Itís a shame this game was rushed out so soon, and that it didnít offer more combat, especially against monstrous enemies. Perhaps I havenít seen any yet? Donít spoil it for me, I like to be surprised. Iím only about three hours in so I canít make any assertions about the gameís ending or overall length, although Iím finding the latter is consumable in bite size chunks, perfect for a busy college student. Given a bit more polish, this probably would have been one heck of a game. Instead, it stands as a monument to unfinished greatness.
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About Khazar222one of us since 10:10 PM on 10.22.2009

Hello, I'm Khazar.

I'm a senior in college, with a major in English and a minor in Biology. I've been playing games since about age five from all across the spectrum of genres.

I am fascinated by the way games tell their stories, so much of this blog is devoted to looking at the design, writing, and style of video games.

Currently Playing:

Farcry 2
Spartan: Total Warrior
Dawn of War
Yoshi's Island (Game Boy Advance)
Rachet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal
Klonoa 2