Asterix & Obelix XXL 2

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Microïds
Release Date: Nov. 29, 2018

About Joseph Doyle

Joe has been known to have two hands with which to both play games and write reviews. When his hands are not doing those, he will put books, musical instruments, and other fun things in them.


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PS4 Review - 'Asterix & Obelix XXL 2'

by Joseph Doyle on May 9, 2019 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 is an action-adventure game crammed with surprising encounters that parody the greatest icons of the video game world and is awash with wry references to many of the great moments that have marked over 25 years of video game history.

You wake up on a Sunday morning, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and indulge in the childhood fantasy of the Sunday comics. Most of the comics are pretty straightforward; there are some talking animals, some kids getting into shenanigans, and someone being incredibly snarky, but that's not what we're looking for. It's all pretty rank and file until you flip to the last page, with the more outlandish and somewhat antiquated strips. This is where you'd find Asterix, the main character of the game being reviewed today.

This is not to speak of the quality of the comic, but rather the odd nature of it. Widely popular as a French comic strip in the 1960s, the popularity of Asterix has lived on in the 21st century, with comic strips, games and movies still featuring the witty Gaul in 50 AD as he fends off the Romans who are trying to take his land. While Asterix's cause may be noble and just, this game is not. The PlayStation 4 remaster of the PlayStation 2's Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 is visually appealing, but it features repetitive gameplay, incredibly low-resolution FMV, and odd music.

The game starts off with some old men talking about the Romans who are trying to take over their Gaul village. Suddenly, Romans arrive and take away all but one of them, showing our Judas (Getafix — just the tip of the iceberg with the puns) with his silver pieces. Asterix and his portly, dim friend Obelix catch wind of this, follow a Roman spy, go to the Roman city of Las Vegum (lampooning Las Vegas) to collect their village elders, and get to the bottom of this. The story is flimsy and rushed, but the game doesn't get too caught up in the narrative. Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 has a lot of charm, especially in the strength of the characters' temperaments, and the video game references include Lara Croft, Mario and Pac-Man. It's cheesy but fun in its own way.

The gameplay feels insubstantial. Since the game was originally released in 2006, the adventure/platformer collect-a-thon bus had already left the station in the early aughts, with games like Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, and Sly Cooper all having been released at least three years beforehand. Nevertheless, this title already feels tired in the wake of the other highly influential games of that era.

The object of the game is to beat the snot out of the Romans, collect as many helmets (the in-game currency) as you can, all the while traversing puzzles to progress throughout the worlds. However, none of this is executed well. The fighting works like a 3D beat-'em-up in that you jump, punch, kick, and grab your way through hordes of Roman legionaries, but it's monotonous to beat up these guys. You can use the same moves to kill them all, but it never feels different or challenging. The game only has a few enemy variations that are rather easy to smack through, except one type that shoots water, and those are infuriating in that they stun you and you have no way to escape. The game attempts to add variety by incentivizing the player to execute certain combos on certain enemies, resulting in more health or currency multipliers, but these are largely useless due to the lack of difficulty.

Likewise, the collecting in Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 is incredibly easy and lackluster. You collect currency as you beat up the Romans or destroy boxes, and you eventually end up with thousands. Luckily, the in-game shops sell different moves and power-ups, like increasing your Zelda-like health hearts or increasing stun times, but they never feel difficult to obtain or necessary to progress. For example, I completely cleared out the shop in one area by buying every collectible, move and upgrade, reducing my currency from 4,000 helmets to 1,000. In roughly 20 more minutes of relatively normal playing, I was back up to 4,000 helmets again.

Overall, the gameplay is weak and begs for more difficulty and variety. The puzzles feel like their only purpose is to pad the gameplay. At certain points, you'll direct Asterix (the smaller character) into a carriage, which Obelix (the bigger character) has to pull on a track to reach a destination. There could be some variation in making it a difficult course to run through with timing, platforming, etc., but the game doesn't offer this at all. A smaller issue is that the title provides the option to switch characters at all times, but it rarely behooves you to do so because they're identical in combos, but Obelix is slower. The incentive isn't usually high enough. The final part of the game is platforming, which feels good; the moving and jumping around feel clean and reactive. Pummeling the baddies feels good from a control standpoint, but it's too repetitive.

The visuals in this remastered version are quite the mixed bag. During the game, the remaster holds up in that characters move fluidly and the zones look nice and fleshed out. The whole art style is very cartoony, with characters bouncing this way and that, flying off-screen, eating ham for health, etc. This is all cohesive, fun, and done well. The FMVs tell a very different story. While they are sparse, they are incredibly distracting in that they don't appear to have been redone. For some reason, while the rest of the game runs in HD, the cut scenes play in a heavily bordered screen at what looks to be 480p. The rest of the game runs pretty well, so this is a little discouraging.

The music feels uninspired. It echoes Mark Mothersbaugh in Crash Bandicoot and uses the same drive and rhythm but lacks the pizazz, so it ends up feeling cluttered and clunky. While Crash Bandicoot is a zany character thrown into incredibly weird scenarios, all of the settings in this game emulate Roman cities, and the music doesn't reflect that, so it feels jarring and out of place.

At the end of the day, the charm and well-loved characters are not enough to save Asterix & Obelix XXL 2. It feels like a slog of collecting a certain number of items to get from point A to point B — lather, rinse and repeat. Nothing lands well, other than the updated graphics. No amount of cheesy puns and well-pandered references could save a game from itself when it's poorly made, even if it was decently remastered.

Score: 5.0/10

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