Review: Clash of the Titans
I really wanted to love Clash of the Titans. Looking at trailers beforehand, I saw a hack n’ slash title that clearly borrowed ideas from God of War, added more weapons and more enemies from Greek Mythology. However, it’s generally not a good sign when a movie tie-in game misses the movie’s release date. It’s also not a good sign when the game releases late and there are still numerous rough edges that should have been addressed by the Game Republic team.
Conceptually, the overall battle system in Clash of the Titans is a thing of beauty as it successfully combines hack n’ slash action with the RPG joy of collecting tons of weapons. The crux of the system lies with the Sub-Weapon Seize mechanic which, despite its uncreative name, adds constantly variety to combat. When an enemy is low on HP, they flash orange, cueing up a quick-time event. If you are successful, you take the enemy’s weapon and can use it in battle.
Alright, that’s not original. However, unlike most games, that weapon stays in your inventory forever, and using items you collect throughout the game, you can upgrade your weapons, adding power and possibly even new abilities to them. Each weapon has various special attacks that consume your soul meter. The special attacks range from fury swipes with your sword, hammer earthquakes, to simple healing abilities. You’ll constantly want to switch up your weapon load-out, which keeps the combat fresh as you figure out new ways to maximize your combos.
On a successful quick-time event, the subsequent death animations for are gruesome and while they are fun to look the first time, I could do without the dramatic epic slow down every time I chop off one of the heads of a Cerberus. However, that was at least bearable to watch. In-game cut scenes had voice acting that made me cringe in my chair and every time their mouths moved I wondered if I was watching South Park.
I was willing to look past the poor animations and PS2 quality graphics however, when I found out that the game had co-op play. I assumed that my friend would be able to a control a character with a similar amount of depth as my character, assigning up to four active sub weapons and have similar combos. Instead however, the 2nd player gets to play a limited role, and is only able to perform special attacks after getting a gem from slain enemies. In addition, a glaring oversight is that while the 2nd player can activate a Sub-weapon Seize quick-time event, the animation that appears for that event shows Perseus, and not the character that the 2nd player is controlling.
The faulty animation was not the only aspect that broke my immersion with the game. Being a video game based off a movie, I expected the game to flow in a similar fashion to the movie, adding some extra missions and quests to extend the length of the game. Clash of the Titans did add a lot of missions to each area you were in, but all of the missions were relatively the same. Essentially, you had to go to place X, kill enemy Y and report back. The majority of the zones were taken right out of the brown color palette, which only added to the dry, drab experience.
I also wondered why the developer bothered putting in text saying “Quest Start” or “Quest Completed.” It was as though they tried to make Clash of the Titans into a World of Warcraft quest-fest but forgot to put in a bunch of missions to give the player some choice. The game itself was wholly linear but I can accept a game being linear if the game flows well enough. However, when I need to go back to the same area three times trying to find a seed in an off-corner area with no direction whatsoever, I begin to rage a little.
One flaw I can’t overlook though it how it is almost impossible to die, ridding the game of any possible difficulty it could have had. Early in the game, you receive a healing sub-weapon that uses a minimal amount of soul gauge. Upgrade that high enough and regular attacks will recharge the soul gauge. Alternatively, if you somehow are still low on soul, you can absorb soul from weakened enemies, and there are always tons of enemies. In the few cases you’re facing a boss one-on-one, the dodge mechanic is simple to execute and will be successful on just about anything. You can also still absorb soul from bosses at random times, just for good measure. An endless stream of soul essentially means an endless stream of health and special attacks.
Surprisingly though, despite all these glaring errors, I enjoyed playing through Clash of the Titans. Sure, it was a complete grind and sometimes I wanted to eat my controller but, I did genuinely enjoy stringing together ridiculous combos using the different sub-weapons at my disposal. While I normally like my games to be difficult, annihilating endless waves of monsters from Greek mythology was satisfying, at least for a short while.
That being said, I’m giving Clash of the Titans an overall rating of “try it.” Granted, if you’re not into hack n’ slash games, feel free to look this one over. The Sub-Weapon Seize mechanic was a great concept which could have been brilliant if executed properly. I hope the Game Republic team realizes the potential of their ideas and puts together a better product in future titles.