Xbox 360 Review: Rise of the Argonauts

Can the Argonauts rise to the challenge?

Jason and the Argonauts. Most of us have seen this classic film, even if it does look incredibly dated by today’s standards. Now we finally have Rise of the Argonauts, which doesn’t follow the film, but instead gives a different story surrounding the Golden Fleece and revenge. There’s plenty of lore and myth for fans of the Greek gods to discover, but also plenty of action.

Rise of the Argonauts is an action RPG, but it’s been simplified. Instead of constantly switching your armour and weapons, you’ll come across a few and simply choose to switch it or not. You can get God Powers if you dedicate completed objectives to the gods such as Athena and Apollo. RotA is what I would like to call a rough diamond in the RPG arena, it does a good number of things right…but its presentation and silly combat decisions let it down from reaching the top.
In the game, you can only play as Jason but you will gather friends along the way to join you in your quest for the fleece. Famous heroes like Hercules and Achilles will join you as will unfamiliar ones like Pan and Atalanta. In your quest, you can usually take upto 2 other characters with you to each of the game’s few areas. I personally went for the strength of Hercules and the bow of Atalanta, but you can pick your own combinations…of course, it depends on who you have in your crew at the time.

Combat is fairly straightforward. It seems to be nothing more than a button-basher, but it does have some lovely moments such as impalements and decapitations. You have a choice of 3 weapons which you can change at will, even in the middle of combat. They are the sword, mace and spear and you’ll be given more powerful versions as you progress through the game. Fighting can become repetitive and hit detection is inaccurate at times, but seeing a head flying off an enemy’s shoulders in slow motion makes everything seem better.
Side quests pop up during your main quest and you can choose to do them or not, it’s completely optional. But not doing them can stop you finishing a constellation of objectives to earn an achievement; I missed out on quite a few of them…despite trying to finish as many side-quests as possible. They are mostly simple things like finding someone and reuniting them with another.etc, it’s nothing special but it does add extra replay value to the game.

RotA has plenty of dialogue choices which can make the difference between life and death to you or an enemy. You can choose to be merciful or just really cruel, but it ultimately doesn’t affect the final outcome of the game. The main quest itself can be completed in quite a short time as you only have to go to 4 areas and then go back to where you started for the final battle, after which you cannot jump back into the game and try and finish up loose ends like side-quests. You only get one chance to do that, it’s just unclear of when until it’s too late.
Boss battles occasionally pop up and most of them are a breeze, except for one that took a few attempts because of an annoying camera, and a glitch that almost stopped me finishing it…thank god for the other characters that finished her off, otherwise I’d have to start all over again. If you have played the game already, you may know what I’m talking about. It’s probably the only point of the game where I was frustrated, but then again I’m easily pleased.

I have to say, I’m really impressed with the story of Rise of the Argonauts. I had low expectations, but it really surprised me and it kept me going through till the end, despite the final boss being a total walkover.

Visuals-wise, Rise of the Argonauts looks quite good…but it does have a few problems. The framerate can occasionally drop quite badly during a battle with loads of enemies and loading screens pop up where you wouldn’t want them, it slows the flow of the game down somewhat. Character models are nicely detailed and much better than they have been given credit for. There are some bad textures and glitches that run the game down a bit, but it can’t diminish what a good game it is underneath. Voice-work is pretty good, but you can skip most of it with a lot of button tapping. The score was composed by Tyler Bates who did 300, so it fits into his comfort zone and he does a really good job in capturing the mood of the game.

The Verdict

Rise of the Argonauts is a great, albeit brief action RPG. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but ultimately it’s a good game from start to finish and one that you should give a try.