The people of Argos have had enough maltreatment at the hands of the Gods and are tired of the deplorable living conditions that surround them. Under an arrogant king, a revolt begins which only serves to anger the Gods. Much pain and suffering result until a young man named Perseus is unwittingly pulled into the drama. He is actually a demigod, son of Zeus and a human woman. What follows is a heroic tale of mythical proportions that spawned a movie in the 1980s. With the recent remake from Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures, a movie tie-in game was inevitable. Clash of the Titans (the game) didn’t coincide with the theatrical release date, but did it benefit from the extra development time?
Game Republic certainly had some good (not revolutionary) ideas during the planning stages of development. Sure, the controls are simple but what did you expect? This is a straight-forward action game where you slice, pound, sting, and slam everything that moves. The glimpse of innovation can be found in the sub-weapon system. Sub-weapons are an arsenal of axes, hammers, bows, tails and wings that supplement your standard sword attacks.
Taking these weapons from your enemies’ hands or ripping them off of their body is the only way to add them to your inventory. This process is called a “Sub-weapon Seize” and is a quick-time event (QTE). Once you’ve knocked your opponent down or chiseled off most of its health, they will start flashing to indicate their openness to a sub-weapon seize. So, press a trigger and start the QTE. A circle will appear in the middle of the screen while a larger circle closes in from the edges, similar to act of locking on a missile in a flight-sim. As long as you push a button when the two circles meet, the QTE will be considered a success.
What’s the result? It’s a well-choreographed kill sequence that steals the weapon and finishes the enemy. The system is mostly forgiving with timing even with the game's solitary difficulty setting. However, the better your timing during sub-weapon seizes, the higher quality and quantity of gifts awarded. Gifts are the Clash of the Titan equivalent of loot that can be used to upgrade power, abilities and efficiency of the sub-weapons. It sounds like fun, right? I admit that having over 80 customizable weapons with a distinct look and feel is nice on paper.
Here is where the good idea turns sour. Not only is the sub-weapon seize the most effective way to finish an enemy, it’s also the only
way to upgrade the weapon. Every battle turns into a race to initiate a sub-weapon seize only to see the same slow-motion animation over and over again. It’s a definite problem and battle with boredom when the same enemies spawn seemingly without end. Additionally, even the weakest of enemies (minus the frogs) take massive damage before dying. Perseus must be a demigod with the strength of a school girl because it takes 25 hits to destroy even simple minions of Hades.
At least there’s a good variety of enemies. Skeletons, scorpions, centaurs, sand worms and stone statues are just the tip of the iceberg. All of the beasts and iconic creatures are the best looking part of the game, but that’s not saying much. This is the worst looking PS3 game that I’ve played since I bought my system earlier this year. Much of it can be blamed on the non-existent use of a color palette. Dull, drab and uninspired can all be used to describe the majority of in-game environments. Rocks, trees, and streams all blend together into a brownish-grey mess that leave everything to the imagination. What makes absolutely no sense is that there are loading screens everywhere
. Each small area is self-contained and you can’t walk 15 seconds without hitting another loading screen. With near-PS2 level graphics, this is unforgivably poor use of current generation capabilities. It also kills the pacing of the game because the constant breaks in the action. Here’s a perfect example: Perseus lands the killing blow in a boss battle. The animation sequence shows him drive it to the ground and go limp. However, the game pauses and loads a “final thrashing” video before it explodes into dust. Like a bad actor that won’t just die, this last hurrah after they’re already dead is unnecessary.
Believe it or not, that’s not the worst part of a boss battle. Game Republic wanted epic, cinematic battles with major entities like Medusa. To ensure this happened, it’s a requirement to engage in a quick-time event (QTE) to finish off a boss. No matter how much you whittle down their health with other attacks, it will reach a point that you’re forced into a QTE. However, if you screw up the QTE over and over, the boss is going to keep opening up the door to restart the sequence. Why allow me to take away 95% of his health with my normal and special attacks only to force me into a set way to kill it?
If you’re still with me, it’s clear that Clash of the Titans love it some QTEs. As a result, I imagine if an NPC tells you to go fishing then you would expect it to have a mini-game or QTE for such a request. Wrong! Fishing is an excuse used by nearly every game on the market for a mini-game, but not here. Killing all of the enemies in the area magically catches a fish. It’s such an obvious oversight that, coupled with boring missions, made me chuckle.
Speaking of missions, let’s take a moment to talk about the quest system. Quest should be put in quotation marks because it’s always the same routine: go here, kill this. Rinse and repeat as often as possible in a 10-12 hour time-frame. I get it, this is an action game; it’s not supposed to involve deep thought. If that‘s the case, though, why put in the façade of choice in the first place? There might only be one quest available but you still have the “option” to not accept it. Such an “option” seems pointless because the story won‘t move forward. None of the story quests are optional and none can be completed concurrently.
Challenge Quests are slightly different and can be completed without progressing the main story, but with the already repetitive combat, I didn’t even want to spend time with that mode. All of the quests will grade you on the time taken to complete it as well as the damage dealt and taken. Do a wonderful job and you’ll receive an “S” rating (like grade school). It might encourage playing through the game multiple times, but I don’t see getting a perfect score as worth it.
Playing the game once will still give you déjà vu since you’ll see the same areas repeatedly. Some locations will be visited four or five times. I would fight through some enemies, approach an intersection, and head down one of the paths. After running for five seconds, I am told (not shown!) that I can’t proceed. So, I turn around and try another path only to have the same thing happen again. Clash of the Titans occasionally is just a running game with very familiar scenery and no indication of the direction to take. Yes, it’s as tedious in-game as it sounds.I also have the distinct feeling that the developer thinks I’m incapable of understanding a cut scene. At one point, we see Perseus pick up an object that turns into a sword. He throws it in the air to Draco and it turns back into the original object. The game then decides to just explain via on-screen text what just happened. Oh, and the text and speech are horrible throughout the game. Instead of fluid conversation, imagine a Zelda game in which you press “A” to move the speech along one phrase at a time. That’s exactly what Clash of the Titans does even though it has fully voice-acted dialogue. Not pressing a button only results in long, drawn out conversations with long-distance phone call pauses in between each person talking.
All of this action is centered on the 2010 version of Clash of the Titans. If you were as disappointed in the new movie as I was, it’s possible that you held hope that the game would expand on the story. It had extra development time so theoretically there was room for improvement. That’s not the case. The ending is actually worse
than the movie and the journey feels needlessly lengthened by endless “prove your worth” quests. I didn’t think it possible but the characters are actually developed less
than they were in the film.
Clash of the Titans (the game) held so much promise with a rich backdrop of mythology to employ and supposedly extra development time. I really wanted to love this game especially because of my fond feelings toward the 1980s movie. Too bad it fails in nearly every possible way. An interesting sub-weapon system is trumped by ugly graphics, repetitive gameplay, and poor design. It’s ultimately another casualty in a long line of movie tie-in games that would have been better off staying dead.