STAFF REVIEW of Clash of The Titans (Xbox 360)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010.
by Ken Laffrenier

Clash of The Titans Box art Quick show of hands?who remembers seeing the original Clash of the Titans movie? Regardless of your enjoyment (or lack thereof) for the original epic, it still holds as a place marker for entertainment. As one of the classic, new-generation, movies it showcased the full potential of stop motion animation and introduced us all to a mish mash of mythical creatures (and an annoying mechanical owl). The 80's, of course, opened up a wealth of entertainment possibilities and the introduction of home console gaming is still in its infancy. There are many that long for these simpler times or, at the very least, long for a time when our expectations weren?t as lofty as they tend to be today.

For these ?throwback connoisseurs?, I am happy to introduce Clash of the Titans; the Video Game. Based on the successful (yet disappointing) 2010 re-imagining of the classic movie, this release hopes to further envelope gamers into the world of Greek mythology. Namco Bandai has been at the forefront of the gaming media evolution? the same team that has offered numerous hits, and some misses?now brings us this movie based, third person action-adventure title. The reasoning for the throwback comment is not meant as notice of reference to the original (1981) movie, but rather as reference to the fact that the games developers seem to ignore the expectations of today?s gamers.

The story is as old as time itself: Perseus, comes to realize that he is the bastard son of Zeus just as his mortal family is killed. It is a time of upheaval against the Gods and Zeus agrees to work with his brothers Poseidon and Hades to bring wrath to the mortals; as Hades moves toward the destruction of the mortals and the Gods, Perseus is drawn into the fight as he seeks the destruction of Hades and his demons, culminating in the epic battle against the Kraken.

The game cannot be faulted for its lack of enemies. Drawing on the Greek mythos the game introduces numerous epic creatures including:

The Centaur; part man, part beast this stealthy warrior will forever remain untamed.

Chimera; 3 beasts, one nightmare??thing of immortal make, not human?snorting out breath of the terrible flame of the bright fire??Homer (no, the other Homer)

Harpy; the thieves of ancient mythology swoop in for deadly strikes.

Medusa; this serpentine beauty will solidify any mortals love but only her power can defeat the Kraken.

Cyclops; a club wielding, one eyed monstrosity with a severe temper.

The list goes on and on with even more creatures from legend and myth and include the additional fodder such as Hellhounds, Fallen Warriors, Lost Spirits, Python, Basilisk, Cerberus, Skull Demon, and even Death Frogs. In all, the game features more than 100 potential enemies.

Of course, Perseus has no hope of survival without mythological weapons and again the game over-compensates with the inclusion of 80 plus weapons. Perseus utilizes a sword as his primary weapon but it is the secondary market where the numbers ramp up. Secondary weapons run the gambit from bows and arrows to oversized hammers, wings, tails and elemental powers, largely acquired by ?seizing? the weapons of your attackers. These secondary weapons are all tied to the B button and require an amount of ?soul? to utilize. Seizing weapons is accomplished when your targeted enemy flashes a specific color?you can then hit the left bumper to set off a series of timed attacks. If successful you will be treated to an animated sequence specific to each character as you acquire their weapon of choice?of course, fail the timed attacks and you will be sent flailing. ?Soul? is acquired when your targeted enemy flashes a different color and you hit the right bumper causing Perseus to draw the very soul out of your attackers.

For a title with so many enemies and an equally impressive number of weapons it seems a glaring oversight to include only 12 locations. This is most evident when you are a number of hours into the game having to travel the exact same areas over and over to complete increasingly farfetched tasks. For some reason the developers thought it would be interesting to constantly return to a ?base camp?, talk to a character and head off on a new quest in the exact same area we just returned from. While in theory, this doesn?t seem like a terrible idea; only being able to take on one task at a time means you will be travelling over the exact same terrain while inexplicably seeking out a special item that you somehow walked right past in your last quest. Adding insult to injury, the developers wanted to extend the gameplay in these areas by sending you out on quests that have no bearing on the story and certainly have no place in moving the game forward.

The visuals on this title are very crude?of course I don?t mean that they are not there but rather that they are underwhelming and unrealized. All of the cutscenes feature stoic (fitting word considering its Greek heritage) character models and having to button press through the dialogue is not only tedious but outdated. The location and in game models also lack any sort of character?having to revisit flat, boring landscapes populated by poorly realized enemies over and over becomes frustrating very quickly. More than once I was reminded of numerous old games that utilized the same landscape and characters over and over just to extend gameplay.

Although there is an oversight in the multiplayer component the developer did throw in a Co-op mode. The problem however is that Co-op is not cooperative. Sure you can have someone waiting in the wings to join in but only certain quests are cooperative and the other player is only filling in for the role of an otherwise, console controlled character. When you are playing Co-op the camera seems to randomly pick and choose who to follow and who to support for the weapon seize option. All of this makes the Co-op mode more of a hindrance than an added value.

The controls are contrite relying solely on traditional gameplay models. While not exactly a button masher, the effectiveness of including a number of weapons becomes lost when you can only carry 4 at any one time and it can become mind numbing when trying to figure out what weapon works against the latest enemy you?ve encountered. It?s not like there aren?t other options available but the developer seems to have wanted to create a new twist on an old favorite but at the end of the day, it still requires drawn out button combinations. The camera also seems to want to include itself as another of the 100 enemy encounters, as it swings viciously around, placing you behind rocks or hidden behind canopies. The lock on characteristics should improve the cameras perspective, but instead it further hinders the gameplay as your enemies rotate around you.

The sound is yet another throwback?reminding me of when I got my first Soundblaster card in my old PC?games back then tried to layer 2 or 3 sounds, which often resulted in a new ?noise? altogether. This game seems to want to include every possible atmospheric sound available. While in camp trying to listen to a guard drone on about your next quest you are assaulted by the sounds of: the fire, the ocean, the bugs, the wind and more. Adding background noise does not create an atmosphere. Like many other aspects of this game, it?s trying too hard to be everything.

Which brings me to my biggest gripe regarding Clash of the Titans: the Video Game; it could have been so much better. Not that it needed to be fine tuned, not tweaked?there are enough excellent, modern, action-adventure titles out there to draw from, that it is inconceivable that an epic story such as this is treated to such a second tier game offering. By no stretch did Namco Bandai need to copy an existing game, but why reinvent the wheel when there are so many options available.

Although this game suffers from the usual Movie based gaming casualties, there are several other issues that detract from the few enjoyable aspects of the finished product. The developers built this game around the movie, decided it needed to be longer and threw in unnecessary garbage quests to overcomplicate the story, unfortunately they didn't add any improvements, the game seems to come off as a overly confident offering that misses the mark on too many aspects.

The games end result is the same as the reimagined movie: today's technology offers incredible opportunities and a proven premise but we are never given the opportunity to care about the characters. After the first hour or so of playing I wished I were playing a classic rather than putting up with a new game dressed up like a classic.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.2 / 10
Visuals: 5.8 / 10
Sound: 5.6 / 10


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