You can pretty much guarantee that with every big budget blockbuster film comes its hastily bodged together videogame counterpart, a quick cash in preying on those who enjoyed the movie and assume that the spin-off will capture some of that very same magic and be equally as entertaining.
We know it and you know it: 9 times out of 10 it’s going to be a disappointment, yet still we live in hope, like the few gems which do occasionally impress, that we’ll not be taken for fools and developers will deliver a title that lives up to our expectations. Clash of the Titans is one such game that predictably fits firmly into the category of forgettable movie tie-ins.
It’s a big shame because in the right hands it’s a concept that could have been turned into something great and memorable. Instead, Clash of the Titans is yet another title that will disappear into the back of our minds as fast as it arrived, to be tossed into the pile with all the other sub-standard movie spin-offs.
You only have to play any of the God of War (GoW) games for five minutes to see how well mythological-inspired creatures can be portrayed and how to implement an entertaining combat system built around such infamous beasts and places. Like GoW, Clash of the Titans is a hack 'n slash adventure, but it's slightly unfair to compare the two because they're worlds apart in so many different ways.
For starters, Clash of the Titans spawns from a less experienced developer with a lower budget which was no doubt under pressure to deliver the game quickly to coincide with the movie release. It is clear, however, that Game Republic has tried to emulate parts of GoW’s gameplay, perhaps due to the similar mythological theme. As a result, you can't help but compare it. It comes across as a lazy God of War clone, littered with inconsistencies, unrefined in almost every area and totally unremarkable when compared against some of the most recent hack ‘n slash games on console, and in a different league totally to GoW.
Focusing on events inspired by the movie, Clash of the Titans sees you take the role of the legendary founder of Mycenae, Perseus, in a good vs. evil battle for dominance between the human race and the powerful gods Hades and Zeus. In videogame terms that simply means you’ll be kicking a lot of ass, and in typical hack ‘n slash style you’ll find yourself fighting wave upon wave of monsters, more than 100 different creatures in all, including recognizable figures such as the Kraken sea monster and the snake-haired Medusa.
Killing monsters, no matter what quantity are thrown at you, can be fun - we’ve seen proof of that time and time again with the likes of God of War, Bayonetta, Darksiders, Devil May Cry and so on. In Clash of the Titans, however, excitement levels rarely increase, it really does feel like you’re doing things over and over again in the same type of tired looking locations against the same kinds of brain-dead monsters – it's relentless button-mashing at its most tedious.
It doesn't help that enemy A.I. is totally inept at making decisions and the frequency in which they're thrown at you wears you down both physically, in terms of sore thumbs, and mentally. Just when you’ve had your fill of skeletal warriors armed with swords and shields more appear out of nowhere and you have to do it all over again. The fact that the game seems to recycle the same three of four sparsely designed environments and has the cheek to send you back to areas already visited means that there’s little to look forward to from a visual perspective.
Apart from the jittery and repetitive animations, particularly the finishing moves, combat is actually fairly smooth. Like similar hack ‘n slash games, you use a combination of light and heavy attacks and rack together combos to take down the enemy and you can switch via the d-pad between four secondary weapons or items intuitively and lock-on to enemies effectively. It’s a simple combat system that works well, but it fools you into thinking it’s much more in-depth than it is.
On the surface, when you examine the amount of weapons available (approx 80 in total), from huge hammers to magical powers such as a spinning tornado, things look good. And when you start to dabble with the comprehensive upgrade system, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is an in-depth combat system similar to what you’d see in an RPG, offering what seems to be plenty of scope for tactical opportunity.
In reality though, you can use the same three or four weapons to dispatch hundreds of these enemies, but despite the obvious visual differences of switching weapons and using powers, there’s actually no real need for you to do so other than to try and relieve your boredom.
To be fair, effort has obviously been made to make tackling the dozens of enemies a little different than normal. You can attack enemies when they glow blue and drain their souls which allows you to pull off special attacks. When they glow orange you can execute your 'Seize' attack which triggers a QTE mini-game allowing you steal weapons from foes.
The QTEs feature occurs far too frequently, though. Rather than keeping them back for special occasions, such as boss battles, you'll be able to initialize a QTE when tackling most minions that you come across. The result, thanks to the repetitive animations, is a totally dull experience that feels far too scripted and unnatural to add anything to the gameplay.
The addition of offline co-op gameplay is a decent inclusion and you'll be glad to get to a human controlled character by your side rather than the laughably dumb A.I. controlled ones, but it doesn't kick in until about 3 or 4 hours into the game so it feels like an afterthought rather than a decision that was made at the beginning of the development process.
Indeed, the lack of any online play just goes to show that in a videogame era where most developers are bending over backwards to incorporate robust multiplayer lobbies and decent co-op modes, Clash of the Titans is behind the times. Sub-par graphics, teeth-clenchingly bad voice acting and bland level design just help to further compound that opinion.
Even at a reduced retail price, Clash of the Titans isn't worth the effort. It's one heck of a boring slog; a repetitive, mind-numbing game devoid of personality and lacking in style or substance.
|Clash of the Titans Review by Steven Williamson|
-The Final Word-
God of War set the bar for this genre and Clash of the Titans takes it ten years back.
|Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3|