Asterix & Obelix

Format: PS2

3 546430 107591
Age Restrictions: 7+

The year is 50 BC, and a small Gaulish village in the west of France is still holding out against the Roman conqueror. Thanks to the druid's magic potion, the little group of dauntless Gauls succeeds - among other things - in irritating Caesar and his proud legions to the utmost degree! Their only fear is that the sky may fall on their heads...

Asterix & Obelix: XXL is a pretty impressive looking game. Anyone familiar with the cartoon strip, written by Goscinny and drawn by Uderzo, will instantly warm to this. The developers have crammed in lots of nice little touches from the graphic novels. There was one great throw away line which made me laugh out loud early on.

On explaining how Asterix can use the magic potion, in order to become super strong, we are told that Obelix doesn't need to take any... "but then you already know that." This is a reference to the fact that Obelix is always been told that he can't have any magic potion, because he fell into a vat of it when he was a baby. A long running joke in the graphic novels, this throw away line works really well.

The gameplay also stays true to the source material. You can whack Roman soldiers into the middle of next week, or pick them up and spin them around - which also helps to daze other soldiers in the vicinity. And I loved the defensive stance the soldiers can take (when a group of them get together and form an almost impenetrable formation of shields). Obelix's tiny dog (Dogmatix) is also along for the ride, and can be used to bite Roman soldiers. And, just like in the graphic novel, you must collect the soldier's helmets as you go.

The fact that you can control Asterix or Obelix (and to a much lesser extent Dogmatix) at different parts of the game also helps to keep the gameplay feeling fresh. And there are other little touches that help to keep your mind focussed. There are giant catapults that send you long distances, olde worlde cannons and, best of all, the downhill toboggan rides where Asterix and Dogmatix use Obelix as a sledge on a wild roller coaster ride.

And just when the first signs of repetition are starting to creep into the game, the developers introduce something new. You leave your familiar surroundings and travel to another part of the world.

But there are problems with the game. The voice soundtrack is pretty poor. The acting is a little on the ropey side, and Asterix has become Welsh for goodness sake. Also, when you loose all your lives you don't always start just outside the area that you died, and sometimes have to fight your way through soldiers once again (although you can just run past them).

Also, the other familiar characters from the graphic novels are not used as well as they might be. It was a shame that the developers didn't use Fulliautomatix (the Gaulish blacksmith) for the owner of the supplies store that pops up from time to time.

But, these moans are only slight nit-picks. This game is a scream. It's also about as close as you're going to get to playing in your own Asterix animated cartoon. You see, not everything about the French is bad.

This is a game that will keep you riveted to the spot for quite some time. In a market riddled with platform games, it's great to see that there are still new and interesting angles that can be employed.

Nick Smithson

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