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Clash of the Titans

Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Developer: Game Republic
Release Date: July 27, 2010


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PS3/X360 Review - 'Clash of the Titans'

by Jesse Littlefield on Aug. 13, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Clash of the Titans, based on the remake of the classic movie, is an action adventure game depicting the ultimate battle of good vs. evil. Set in the timeless grandeur of Greek mythology, the game tells the story of the epic battle for dominance between the human race and the powerful gods Hades and Zeus.

Have you ever browsed your local video game store, come across a movie tie-in game and wondered, "Why do these always get such bad rep?"

Clash of the Titans is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with movie tie-ins. It doesn't try to buck the trend and is content with imitating popular, well-made games. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but the results in Clash of the Titans seem to indicate that the developers didn't have very much time, a development budget or experience.

From the outset, the Clash of the Titans video game was destined to be unsuccessful. The title was trapped in development hell and changed developers at least once. The game wasn't ready in time for the movie's March 2010 theatrical release, so its July release date coincided with the DVD and Blu-ray releases of the film. The sales of any movie tie-in game rely very heavily on the popularity of the film, but unfortunately, the "Clash of the Titans" movie is a distant memory for most people. My friends and I occasionally yell, "Release the Kraken!" for our own amusement, but that's about the extent of the film's staying power.

As far as being an actual game, it's impossible to not compare Clash of the Titans to God of War. The gameplay is heavily borrowed from the God of War series, and it certainly doesn't help that the two games have remarkably similar story lines (yes, I know the "Clash of the Titans" story came first). In both stories, an angry son of Zeus must fight against pretty much everything Greek mythology has to offer. Vengeance against the gods is the ultimate goal.

However, the new "Clash of the Titans" film tosses aside the story for more and lengthier action sequences, and the game very closely follows the movie's plot. The movie does a better job of conveying the story, so gamers are left scratching their heads because the video game only provides the most basic story. This is quite shocking because the Clash of the Titans game takes almost eight times as long as the movie did to tell its story. Most movie games are docked for being extremely short, but Clash of the Titans manages to provide about 16 hours of gameplay. You may be rejoicing about the title's gameplay-to-dollar ratio, but it's not a good thing in this case, as the gameplay wears out its welcome by the two-hour mark.

It's very rare that a game makes you want to put down the controller and stop playing forever. It's even more rare when a game does that before you're 10 percent of the way through it. Clash of the Titans manages to do exactly that.

As Perseus, you're located in a small hub world where you can chat with a few characters, and some of them give you quests, which always devolve into killing everything that moves until you've accomplished the objective. Your objectives are usually to kill a specific creature or go to a certain area to find something. Directions are rarely clear, and it's easy to spend a lengthy period of time simply wandering around the environment while trying to locate your objectives. It would have been ideal if the game tweaked the environments to force you on a clear path for each mission. Compounding the issue even further is the fact that every mission from a single hub takes place in the same environment, so you're going to see a lot of the exact same environments over and over again. Once you have completed all of the missions, you get a final mission for the area, and it informs you that you're moving to a "new base camp" after the mission. You'll get a bit of the story and then find yourself in a new base camp. Lather, rinse and repeat.

This could be tolerable if the missions felt original or impacted the story, but alas, Clash of the Titans isn't capable of that. I finally realized how bad the quest design was when I reached a mission where my goal was to go into the environment and find a good spot to fish because the fat guy in my party was hungry. Other quest designs involve tasks like finding an herb because somebody got sick from the food you caught or killing more monsters than some other guard because the guards hate you. Perseus spends three hours trapped in the barracks of Argos, where he's forced to do menial quests that have absolutely zero bearing on the story, before his quest can even begin. In the film, this is covered in roughly five minutes.

There would be some redemption for the title if the combat were entertaining, but unfortunately, it's not. Dodge, special, strong and weak attacks are about all you can do, and you can get through most of the combat by simply button-mashing on the weak and strong attack buttons. When locked on to enemies, you'll find they glow specific colors, which are vital to gameplay. To use your special attacks you need to have spirit energy, which you can get from enemies by stealing their souls. When enemies glow a certain color, you can steal some of or all of their souls. Stealing at the wrong time results in a punishing counter-attack. Special attacks involve using one of the game's 84 special weapons. Yes, that's a lot of special weapons, but this is a game where more is not necessarily better.

When enemies glow a certain color, you can perform a subweapon seize, which culminates in a Quick Time Event to execute the enemy and take his weapon. Every enemy has one set of animations when you take away his weapon, so this gets very tedious very quickly. The game will often require you to use a specific subweapon to proceed. Then you enter the tedium of needing spirit energy to use the weapon, which means taking on weaker enemies to take their souls.

In several instances, the game requires you to use a specific weapon from among the 84. For example, some glowing lamps spawn enemies and create invisible walls to block my path … but the lamps are located in the sky. I had to open up the clunky weapon interface and choose a very specific bow that allowed me to aim up and take out these lamps.

You'll need to continue to seize subweapons from enemies to gain materials to upgrade your weapons. If you don't upgrade your weapons, the game becomes significantly more difficult.

The only time these gameplay elements come together to create an entertaining gameplay experience is during the boss fights. During these fights, weaker enemies often swarm the map, so it's easy to keep the special gauge filled, and the increased enemy count adds to the intensity of the fight. It becomes a game of attrition with the boss until you get his health low enough to perform a subweapon seize, where you engage in an epic QTE to find a way to kill the boss. Not every boss fight is capable of evoking this feeling; some end up feeling more like chores.

One thing that dumbfounded me about the game was its low production values. This title chose to miss its only marketing opportunity to get polished up, but the production values feel almost nonexistent. Every corner that could have been cut was. When characters talk in the game, their mouths just flap up and down, and no effort is made toward lip-synching.

Most of the game animation is stiff and clunky. There's even an enemy in the game who doesn't animate between states. He stands there, he shifts to a wind-up, and then his punch is fully extended. Perseus is the only part of the game graphics that hold up at all, and even he looks a bit dated.

The voice acting doesn't serve the game well, either. It seems that none of the movie actors were willing to reprise their roles for the video game. The stand-ins don't deliver decent performances, often conveying the wrong emotion for a statement, emphasizing the wrong word, or delivering flat, monotonous lines.

Completing the poor presentation package are tremendous loading times when you start up the game or begin a quest. It's difficult to find anything good to say about the game's presentation. Well, the musical soundtrack seems to be ripped from the movie, and that music was OK, even if the implementation into the game could have used some more work.

Clash of the Titans is a poorly made, extremely derivative game that missed its money-making opportunity when it missed the movie's theatrical release date. If those four months were spent improving the game quality, one has to wonder how bad the title was in March. This is one of the worst movie tie-ins I've ever played, and the $60 price tag is outrageous when the game feels like a budget title at every turn. There are almost no redeeming qualities for this title; the only saving grace is the occasionally entertaining boss battles, but there's no reason to even glance at this title where there are better God of War clones available.  Another option is to play God of War, which is a much more entertaining look at Greek mythology.

Score: 4.5/10

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