Review By: Siou Choy
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If only the gods could help Game Republic make a decent game.
In my role of cultural filter, I run in the advance guard, reviewing the newest crappiest games so you don’t have to waste your time and hard earned cash on them. So let me once again give the warning cry.
I’m discovering a disturbing trend of late. Every time corporate interests drop a bad movie on us (are there any other kind these days?), there’s an unspoken corollary rider to the contract that an even worse video game must be in the works based on said hunk of cinematic excrement. Which leads me to the topic of this review. Clash of the Titans is (to be quite nice about it) a rather uninspired game based on a perfectly horrid remake from last year of a decidedly minor genre film from back in 1981 (when they still knew how to make films). Anyone else here confused by this lineage? Let’s face it, while the original film was mildly entertaining, who from that time period doesn’t recall Ray Harryhausen’s claymation effects on the Medusa, or how many times homely and inept Harry Hamlin (inexplicably voted People magazine’s “sexiest man alive” TWICE) leaves his damn sword and/or shield behind? Only to have it mysteriously reappear later in the film? It was hardly a classic, somewhat lost among dozens of similar genre entries of the period and utterly lost behind superior contemporaries such as the original Conan the Barbarian and Excalibur. So why some imagination-bereft exec decided that this decidedly forgettable, claymation-effects matinee flick deserved an expensive CGI remake is beyond me.
Another bizarre trend of late is how imagination-bereft developers of all stripe are trying to pass off their meager offerings as if they were actual television shows or movies. In case you missed basic grammar school English class, the game takes place in the world of Greek Mythology. Playing as ill-fated Perseus, son of Zeus, your job is to “save the world” from the god Hades. Along the way you’ll have to face off against such hoary monsters of Greek Mythology (and Ray Harryhausen films) as the Kraken, the Medusa, and so forth. Overall, the game is little more than a third rate hack and slash, with precious little substance of any sort. You progress from fight to fight and get to sit through pointless animations between – and note that for the most part, cutscenes are not skippable. I’ve tried countless times to skip these long, boring and pointless scenes only to net myself a “silent film” where the dialogue is absent, but the onscreen animation continues, mouthing words you don’t get to hear. Top notch production values, here, folks.
The game takes a lot longer to get started than it by any rights should. Essentially, you’re forced to do a lot of really stupid things, over and over again. For example, was it really necessary for me to fight the lowest level guards, then the middle rank, before finally progressing to the elite guards, just to show my worth to the King’s men? As one James Todd Smith once famously replied, “…I don’t think so.” Much like the game as a whole (and it seems, the gaming industry per se, particularly given its markedly sorry output as of late), this opening gambit proves a pointless time waster. A more canny production would have saved a lot of time and kept player interest by dropping us further along into the proceedings and dropping any necessary “tutorial hints” as we move through the course of the action. That, of course, would bespeak some modicum of thought, planning and concern about the audience and keeping it both interested and satisfied…clearly not a concern here (or again, with gaming as a whole, based on recent offerings across multiple platforms).
Almost all of your missions involve beating up on people. Seriously, that’s it. I thought I was finally given a proper mission when asked to take a non-violent approach and quiet the crowds outside. However, the reality was quite different. Rather than utilizing communications skills and trying to use logic on these folks, you’re actually expected to dodge attackers in the crowd and then subdue them by flipping them over your shoulder. This includes women. If this isn’t an ominous portent of a new fascism and militaristic, zero tolerance mindset on the rise among and targeting our current and upcoming generations, I can’t think of a stronger one. Wake up, people. Use your brains and voice, before you lose the right to.
Clash of the Titans allows you to take advantage of over 80 weapons. Weapons are earned through a “subweapon seize,” which essentially refers to your beating on enemies until they start flashing. When they do, you press the left bumper button, timing your button press with a flash of light shining through an onscreen target. If done properly, you’ve just captured your opponent’s weapon (and are thereby forced to sit through an unnecessary, lengthy animation of your ripping the weapon from their grasp and killing them with it). If you fail in this attempt, you are kicked back and have to do this whole idiocy all over again. By means of this annoying and absurd process, you can find yourself beaten down by such devastating opponents as the lowly walking skeletons that seem to populate every few spare seconds of the game. What makes this foolishness even more egregious is how you are forced to engage in this process in order to defeat most enemies in the game. While there are a few other ways to defeat enemies, this is the main prescribed method. Be prepared to waste an inordinate portion of your allotted lifespan performing the same absurd action and watching the same pointlessly violent cutscene over and over again.
It should also be pointed out that you can only quickly access FOUR of these weapons at a time. Should you choose to or require another weapon, you are forced to navigate around the menus and reassign these further weapons to your directional pad in place of those already there assigned. Great way to win battles, eh? Let me see, I’ll drop out of this shootout, fumble around in the trunk, and pull out a more appropriate weapon, maybe a riot gun? Gee, I sure wish I had anticipated the situation and was carrying the thing to start with!
Cinephiles have been bemoaning for years, if not veritable decades now, how the movie industry appears to have completely run out of ideas. Not only is there precious little of any substance, with any intellectual or literary cachet to recommend it, little of the clever, urbane witticisms of the cinema of days gone by, and little food for thought in these empty calorie, saccharine-sweet cotton candy confections, but the current generation of music video directors and television scriptwriter hacks cum Hollywood would-be “auteurs” are continually seen to be dipping back into ever more obscure wells of the past only to come up with empty, hollow, and vastly inferior remakes of the films of days gone by of every genre, caste and stripe. Sadly, the video game industry has placed itself in the position formerly held by television, that of the bastard child who imitates, poorly, its far more worthy progenitor, to critically and audience-derided, ever diminishing results. While licensed property tie-ins have always been a sort of sorry stepchild in the video gaming arena, those licenses based on sorry remakes of hoary genre cinema offerings which weren’t all that spectacular to start off with approach a new low of brobdingnagian proportions.
While I will be honest with you and admit that I do have some nostalgic affection for the 1981 Clash of the Titans (Harry Hamlin, weapons left behind every few minutes, and all), I can’t find it in myself to offer a single kind word towards its recent remake or the rather sorry game based on it. This is trash, pure and simple. Avoid wasting hours of your life and hard earned cash on this developmental dungheap by all means necessary.
Posted: 2012-01-09 20:20:08 PST