Most of us have a remaster wish list, with games like Red Dead Redemption and Fallout 3 getting loud calls to get that next-gen touch. However, it might have caught a fair few people off guard that 2006's Asterix & Obelix XXL 2: Mission: Las Vegum would arrive on PS4 before Bethesda's classic made a comeback.
For those who missed it the first time around, it was the sequel to 2003's slightly less convoluted title: Asterix & Obelix XXL, both making their appearances on the PS2, and the release of the remasters ties in with the fact that next year we'll be getting the 3rd in the series.
This colourful free-roaming 3D action platformer is crammed full of cultural references from the original time of release, most of which can still be laughed at now. That said, the humour and the game both have one thing in common: at times they can be a little dated. There are references to its contemporaries such as Mario, Pacman and even Larry Croft, a fat Roman who dresses in a strappy green top and looks like more than a shadow of his female version.
So, what have the Romans ever done for us? The story follows yet another attempt by Julius Caesar to conquer Gaul. He decides to build Las Vegum which is a huge theme park divided into six zones all referencing casinos in Vegas. You get to visit areas such as LuckSore and Little Venetia during your quest to save Getafix, a druid who seemingly helped Caesar.
Aided by a defecting Roman spy who looks not too unlike Sam Fisher, Asterix and Obelix make their way through all of the zones, each one full of interesting puzzles and heavily-armed Romans to bash, as they make their way to save the druid.
It's pretty intuitive to pick up and play, with both characters playable and needed at different times for different puzzles. If the slenderness and agility of Asterix isn't the answer, then maybe Obelix's brute strength is? Puzzles involve things like lighting torches, flicking switches, and blowing up doors.
There feels like a good balance between the number of puzzles and combat sections so that it never gets too repetitive and there's not too much button bashing and smashing without your noggin being put to the test too.
The combat itself is good fun, with lots of different moves to try out, meaning that that part of the game doesn't get stale either. There are lots of different types of troops to bash and throw. Swinging a roman around like a cat in a massive room was great fun! Every time an enemy is killed, they yield some helmets which can be used in various shops as the in-game currency.
In these stores, you can buy upgrades such as health, new combos, and fury, which is a heightened level of aggression that our heroes get into after killing enough centurions. It gives you an added reason for pummelling those legionaries; more helmets dropping means more new abilities to play with.
The graphics, lighting and textures have obviously been upgraded, but if we're totally honest the cutscenes look incredibly dated. Even shrunk down to half screen, they look grainy. This is in stark contrast to the in-game story sections. It does detract a little from the experience, and even though they are funny, you can't help but be reminded that this wasn't made for the PS4.
Even though at times the game itself does remind you that it's a great PS2 platformer polished up for the 2018 crowd, for the most part, it looks pretty solid. There is the occasional issue with the camera that seems to hinder your view rather than help, but these moments are quite rare. It was more when you were walking behind walls or blocks that it seemed very tricky to negotiate the best angle.
The only other gripe we have is some of the free-roaming sections are interrupted by a lock-in challenge where you can't escape until you've killed maybe 40 or 50 soldiers. At first they're fun, but soon they get a little on the repetitive side.
We've just been a little bit negative, but to be totally honest what you have here is a fun platformer that has a few age-related issues, and on the whole, it holds up pretty well. We loved the variety of combat and locations in particular. Each area was unique and felt special, with loads of different puzzles and things to see and do, like a wooden Eiffel Tower. We also loved the dialogue and interaction between the two main characters, who felt like real friends who didn't always see eye to eye.
It was just like playing the comics and therefore had the same humour and visuals. That also means that any gamer not overly familiar with the French comic that's been around since 1959 might not get the same level of enjoyment as a true fan. For most of those who played on PS2 this probably wasn't the most iconic game of its generation and, therefore, it seems more likely that it's going to appeal more to those who loved the comics than nostalgic fans.
Don't get us wrong, it looks and feels great most of the time, and as long as you can forgive the quality of the cutscenes, the repetitive sections, and the occasionally dodgy camera, you'll likely manage to have some fun as it's an enjoyable 3D platformer that's very easy to pick up and play, even if it does feel like it's one for the fans.
That said, we can imagine that this would go down well with a lot of younger gamers, even though a lot of the references might go over their heads. If you have kids, you could probably just play it together, and while the combat, colours, and puzzles will amuse them, you can enjoy the in-jokes and the decade-old cultural references.
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