Copyright Adam Schlosser

Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser

Posted by Pip

FL13- Mindful Animals Are A Different Story

She'd probably be calling that lot a bunch of mindless animals even if they weren't still in possessed bodies too, you know. But nobody rants like a bitter evil demon. It's part knowing she has a lot of different ways to hurt people, part that she's more than willing to do it, and part that her smiling is typically rather bad. Ah well, at least she's off to placate Fletch with candy and good tidings. Maybe Fletch just wants some bro time. Hang out and learn all those macho things a father figure imparts from those he's allied with. Greed would be the best Big Brother you could be assigned. He's take you to the aquarium, get you ice cream, and steal a motorcycle to get you home at the end of the day.

A happy upcoming Chanukah to all the Slapeggs out there. Eight days. Perfect for celebrating a day per Sin and let's say... Rhett? He can be day eight. I suppose you celebrate the Virtues instead but who is THEIR number eight? Fluffy?

Long, Sadly lacking in claymation Review: Rise of the Argonauts- What I noticed before even firing up the game was the number of typos and errors in the manual. That is just never a good sign. Within just the game's intro stage, I encountered two blatant graphical errors and a few minor ones (an enemy fell through the floor when I knocked him down, enemies twitch and move around after they die, weapons and shields have an odd way of sticking to objects after their owners are dead, there was supposed to be a spear sticking out of a soldier, but instead, it was floating around the room and magically appeared in Jason's hand after he did a pulling motion at the body). Sadly, these issues are common through your adventure. I entered a room and there were four guards running in place, but when I started a dialogue sequence, the guards vanished and their weapons fell to the ground. In another instance, I entered a room on one side of the castle and when I left it, I had warped to the other side of the map. I went back out the way I came but the room exited properly and I had to trudge back to where I came from. There are less large errors as you get farther into the game but the camera gets worse and small bugs pop up in every area you visit. The game was definitely rushed out for sale and either just didn't get much QA time or the issues were ignored to get it out the door. The framerate constantly drops and not just during large battles. Doing something as minor as moving the camera is often enough to get the game to chug for a few seconds and any time you change direction quickly or swing the camera, you'll see a lot of screen tearing and missing graphics. You'll run across things that any good designer would have put a stop to like plain white text on a yellow or bright background. ARGH(onauts! Zing!). When the game was announced, the producers made a big deal about realistic combat and that if you slashed a guy with a sword, he would die, but that just isn't true. Enemies spend all their time blocking, so you have to bash away at them to break their shields and then you can do an execution move on them. What's the difference between hitting a guy five times to break his shield and then once more to kill him and just straight up having to hit him six times? Your regular attacks still can't kill unprotected enemies quickly either. Even after breaking a shield, you attacks are weak and it's only the slow execution moves that have a long wind up that do the real damage. The game has almost no HUD, which is rather nice and a design choice I typically like, but I would recommend turning on the combat UI because it can be difficult to tell when you're actually being hurt. Most of the time it just looks like the characters are bashing into each other with their shields and then you'll suddenly drop dead. Argonauts uses an interesting upgrade system that fits the setting quite well. You earn "deeds" through certain actions and you use these to upgrade yourself or your weapons. Some you get by just playing the game normally (like killing X enemies, using a certain move on enemies, or completing a plot point) and some you get by completing side quests, helping people, or just being generally kingly. You then devote your deeds to a specific god and they'll grant you an upgrade or a new power. You also passively gain favor with certain gods through the dialogue trees and how you choose to act. So I gave most of my deeds to Ares for attack upgrades but I was more rational in how I talked to people, so I still earned upgrades from the other gods for not shooting my mouth off or being a jerk. When you're not in combat, you spend a lot of time walking back and forth across the maps. Every village you visit has AT LEAST one segment where you talk to somebody on one side of the map, you then walk all the way to the other side of the map, talk to somebody else or pick something up, and then walk all the way across the map again back to that first guy. The reimaginings of characters, except for Hercules who is a walking hunk of meat, are fairly likeable and the story feels appropriately myth-y. The writing is surprisingly good given the lack of polish in gameplay and I found myself getting into the story fairly quickly. In most adventure games I just ignore the NCPs, but I didn't mind seeing what they had to say here. Unfortunately, you're probably going to miss several story segments because of another poor design choice. The same button that fast forwards dialogue also skips cutscenes. Most of the cutscenes are also done with the in-game engine so I wound up accidentally skipping chunks of the story because I tried to fast forward and you can't really tell when you're in a real cinema. And they're slow talkers on top of it so you want to fast forward so badly but you never know when doing so will skip a scene. When you first enter the Argo and realize it has a steam engine, you know that historical accuracy wasn't really an important rule to the designers, but the architecture and costumes are still well done and nice to look it. Every so often a character say something “modern day” and it adds an extra element of humor to the dialogue. At one point, a character basically says “kill 'em all and let Ares sort it out” but it's not inappropriate thematically and adds a little extra something to the scene. The graphics have that Unreal Engine washed out look I typically despise, but there are plenty of areas with nature and they seem to have gone out of the way to add extra splashes of color in there, so it's never boring to look at. Even when you're in a cave or dungeon-like area, there's typically something glowing or some patch of color that keeps the area interesting. Unfortunately, the game shoots itself in the foot with its main plot twist. A cutscene at the start of the game reveals the big bad guy to the player but not the Argonauts, so you spend the whole game knowing who is bad but Jason doesn't catch up to you until the very end. Sadly, the final boss is terrible as well. It took me several lives just to figure out how to hurt it, you're forced to use a single weapon where you've had free choice throughout the rest of the game (and it was naturally the one weapon I hadn't upgraded at all), the boss floats high above you so the camera is tilted up but its attacks come from the ground so you can only juuust see what's killing you in three hits, and there's a cutscene AFTER the checkpoint and you have to fast forward through it every time you die. Despite its many, many, many flaws, the game is actually fairly enjoyable and didn't entirely deserve the flogging it got at its initial release. It's not a bad game at heart, it's just an unfinished game lacking the polish and tweaks it needed.
Sins Committed: Buggy, Backtracking, Bad framerate, Bad camera
Virtues Acted: Good story, Good writing, Good dialogue, Beating a minotaur with a mace is typically a good time