GC 2008: Rise of the Argonauts Preview
Written Sunday, October 05, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Rise of the Argonauts is the latest game that documents Jason’s adventures with his merry band of men aboard his beloved ship, the Argo. With his loving wife, Alceme, recently assassinated, the only way Jason can bring her back to life is with the much heralded Golden Fleece. Rise of the Argonauts is a fully fledged action-RPG title from Liquid Entertainment and is due to be published by Codemasters. The title recently billed itself as “not just the average RPG”, but isn’t that what they all say, we went to see it at Leipzig to find out.
First off, let’s clarify that the Rise of the Argonatus story is not meant to be an accurate representation of Jason’s adventure as told by the classic myth, instead it is a reinterpretation on Liquid’s part to make the story more of an adventure, so expect to see all your favourite mythological warriors willing and able. The Argonauts as Liquid Entertainment’s Charlie Price would say, are the “X-men of Ancient Greece.”
The two key elements of any action-RPG are obviously, the action and the RPG elements ... Go figure. The action comes in the form of real time combat with a system that focuses on lethal battles, so if you slash someone with a sword, expect it to wound them as it would in a film. The RPG element revolves mainly around the gods and your popularity with them, bringing the Greek Mythological notion of, the gods are watching you at all times, to life. Depending on who you keep happy ultimately has an effect on how you grow, level up and what skills you acquire, so be aware, because every action truly does have its consequence. The four gods present in the title are Ares, Hermes, Athena and Apollo, so prepare to take sides.
The shield plays a big part in Rise of the Argonauts’ combat system as much as your sword, defending yourself is sometimes even more important than attacking your opponent. Your basic attacks will be broke in to two categories; the quick attack which will wound people, open them up and can even knock their shield aside and the execution attack, which has the ability to cut your foe in half or get his head chopped off.
Not only is Jason equipped with his trusty shield and his sword, but he is equipped with a mace and a spear that he can change between on the fly. Each weapon has its own specialties, so utilising them all is essential; so your sword will pierce skin, mace can destroy shields and armour, and you can use the spear for distance.
The special weapons in Rise of the Argonauts aren’t your traditional RPG weapons that give you +10 damage, instead, the ensuing damage of these epic weapons will be an actual be tangible, visual damage. For example, let me run you through a few weapons; the Fist of Ares is a mace that will not only crack a shield, but it’ll cause an explosion whereby the resulting shrapnel despatched injuring nearby foes. The Spear of Judgement is another example, it is given to Jason by Perseus and when you kill someone a pocket of lighting will appear and it will serve as a land mine that you can fling opponents in to.
The armour sets are as they sound ... sets, so no more mixing and matching chest plates with helmets of random origin. I must say, that even at this beta stage, the character models were very impressive with great textures, plenty of detail and made up of tonnes of polygons. Don’t worry about your crew either, you won’t need to kit them out for your journey, just picking who to take with you is merely enough. The good news as well is that they won’t get in your way and can look after themselves, even their wild swings won’t damage you, so you’re safe to wade in. However, picking who joins you on quests will have more than just an impact on the combat, but the story itself and the world around you will react accordingly.
Immersion plays a huge role in Rise of the Argonauts which is partly the reason for the lack of menu and HUD. Of course the health bar is off by default, but the devs have given you a chance to turn it on if you so require. The health bar works in similar ways for your opponents as well and if you find yourself connecting with a swing aimed at an opponent’s side, they will grab their wound accordingly and it will then affect the effectiveness of their attacks from there on out.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an RPG without some sort of integrated, choice fuelled dialogue system but Liquid are trying something new here. They didn’t want to create a system where you given 10 choices that ultimately resulted in the same end product or one of a similar nature. Instead there are choices throughout the story and each of these choices result in totally different outcomes. This will not only have a direct impact on how the scene plays out but also on your whole progress through the game as well. Of course this will mean different experiences on different playthroughs and whilst there will be multiple endings, no matter how you play it, you’ll always end up at the same crossroads come the end of the game.
Expect to see plenty of epic boss battles as well because come on, where would a game with Greek Mythology as a central theme be without them. Rise of the Argonauts at this stage is looking like a game with promise, with interesting takes on the RPG concepts and some pretty shiny character models to match. It could very well be an epic adventure in the making. However, with the inevitable rise of the bar that will come with the release of Fallout 3 and Fable 2, Rise of the Argonauts may have to produce something special to stand out. Early doors yet but at least the title is living up to its mature rating with it being a proverbial tale of blood and gore.
Rise of the Argonauts is set to land in late 2008/early 2009 for Xbox 360, PS3 and Games for Windows.