It’s fair to say that unless you’ve heard of the indomitable Gauls, Asterix & Obelix, you’re unlikely to know much of what this game is about. Starting as a comic book back in the late fifties, Asterix & Obelix have been around for quite a while. Of course, this duo haven’t just been confined to paper, but to cartoon, and indeed video game format too. This, ladies and gents, takes us to the newly released Asterix & Obelix XXL 2. Though, I say newly released quite lightly, because in actual fact, this is a remaster of a game that released back in 2006.
Perhaps this release is to gain some traction for the upcoming 2019 launch of Asterix & Obelix XXL 3? It’s a guess for anyone. Nevertheless, and I’ll save you some time here, Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 isn’t going to rock your Gaul-loving world. The story revolves around another of Julius Caesar’s outlandish attempts at conquering Gaul – a tribe of people of which Asterix and Obelix are native to. Caesar wants nothing more than world domination, but in a Mario and Bowser-like fashion, Asterix and Obelix are always there to stop his nefarious plans.
The difference this time around is that Getafix, one of your own, has turned traitor, joined the Romans, and sworn fealty to Caesar. Now, it falls to Asterix & Obelix to track him down, find out what’s going on and put a stop to yet another of Caesar’s plans – all with the help of a Roman spy named Sam Shieffer. This takes our favorite Gaul duo to Las Vegum, a Las Vegas-like Roman theme park. The premise is about as interesting as it gets, so unless you’re a die-hard fan of the franchise that never tried this in 2006, don’t expect too much.
The adventure begins with a fairly lengthy (old looking) video, the same video that was present in the original version. The exact same video. Yes, you read that correctly. It hasn’t seemingly been tidied up or refined in the slightest, and if it has, it looks poor. Once this is done, you’re given direct control over the characters, and let me tell you, first impressions are not grand here. There’s very little to go off as far as the gameplay is concerned, giving you next to no clue as to what you’re expected to do. It’s a lazy design choice if you ask me.
Once you do get a grasp and begin making progress, you’ll see that there’s a plethora of moves to soak up. However, these need to be unlocked as you make your way through the theme park’s six locations. Here, you can either travel on foot or fast-travel to and from each zone. To achieve access to new areas, you simply need to beat the living crap out of the Romans, and when I say that, what I really mean is that you need to bash thousands of them to smithereens. Doing so will oftentimes reward you with helmets; the game’s currency.
You’ll use this currency to unlock more skills, health and even some collectibles. Though, as alluded to above, you’ll also use these helmets to gain access to new areas – typically costing a bulk per-whack. That’s the overall structure of the game per se. You can indeed quick swap between both Asterix & Obelix, which proves very useful in the long-run, for a number of reasons. For instance, the game is packed with simple puzzles and specific encounters that toys with the traits of each character; forcing you to think outside of the box regularly.
Despite the lack of difficulty where puzzles are concerned, the abundance of creativity that’s been applied almost makes up for it. Regardless, you’ll be flicking between the two throughout the entirety of your adventure here – upping your combos and, in turn, your chances at an extra shield or some x3 multipliers. Unfortunately, due to the game’s dated design, the combat feels very basic and old. It doesn’t help that the camera can shift into some very awkward territory, oftentimes zooming-in when you’ve a mass of enemies nearby.
The very gameplay loop is also out of touch by today’s standards. Most areas are gated by a door of some sort that require a set amount of defeated Romans before opening up. It’s almost as if the developer knew that the game wasn’t very large, and so, they put all of these barriers in place to stretch out its length. Whilst it’s great for collecting helmets, the loop becomes tedious and repetitive before too long at all. I wont deny that this new and improved version goes above and beyond that of a typical remaster, but it’s still a slog.
So, what’s new? I’ve already touched up on some of this above, such as collectibles and fast-travel. Outside of the expected improvements to the game’s textures and lighting, there’s a number of additions that make for a better structure overall. This includes more fluid acquisition, added difficulty tiers, new skills and more. There’s even new challenges that have been thrown in to further the game’s longevity, though, I’ll reiterate, the incentive to push through more of the same gets a little dull when that’s exactly all it is, more of the same.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to bash on the game too much. There’s a fair bit of value and some good fun to be had here. The gameplay does an okay job at blending its elements together, with combat infrequently broken up by platforming and puzzle sections. The issue, however, is that it all runs dry when playing for moderate amounts of time. It would have been nice to see some effort spared here for refinement, especially seeing as though this is the biggest drawback when it comes to the fields of play. Though, at least it’s accessible.
Speaking of the game’s visual and audio design, this gets a pass from me. The game has a colorful and sharp presentation and some decent audio cues, but nothing that you would particularly choose to write home about. The biggest crime here is with the game’s full retail price-tag. I appreciate that the new additions provide a nice touch, but it’s a far from worth the cost that it currently sits at. I would heavily advise holding out for a sale if you can. The bottom line here? Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 is a passable game at best. Bring on XXL 3.
Although Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 goes above and beyond that of a standard remaster by adding in new systems and mechanics, it still feels pretty bland and dated at its core. There’s no shortage of things to unlock and collect, and indeed the game has never looked so good, but its constant repetition and its recycled gameplay loop, ultimately drags the experience down. Furthermore, its asking price is far too steep.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.