Asterix & Obelix XXL2
Developer: OSome Studio
Genre: Adventure / Platforming
Release Dates: 29 Nov, 2018 (EU & NA)
Price: 29,99€ (Steam)
As a european I grew up with Asterix & Obelix video games & comics during my childhood, Asterix: The Gallic War & Mega Madness are both games that I have particularly played for a long time as a kid, but as I grew up I got distracted by other games and totally forgot about this franchise's existence until I saw the recent games and I have to say as a fan of the old games, I'm quite disappointed on how badly the franchise has evolved over the years. Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 is a remaster of the 2006 title Asterix & Obelix XXL 2: Mission: Las Vegum which I never got to play originally, but like a lot of remasters this game does little to bring this almost 15 years old title up to modern standards.
Just like any other game in the franchise, XXL2 follows the story of the Gauls in their battle against the Romans trying to conquer their village, but this time around instead of the romans coming to them, they decide to take a trip to Las Vegum, a Roman city dedicated to the entertainment of the roman population, in order to rescue Getafix, the village druid which is suspected of treason. Las Vegum is built as a replica of the Roman conquests so you have a wide variety of locations like Venetia, Egypt and even the Gaulic village, so your mission is to pass each one of those locations which pose a challenge in order to reach Caesar's Palace and put a stop to him. Aside from Gatafix and Caesar there are only a few side characters that aren't your regular punchbag enemies, including a side villain by the name of Larry Croft, a parody of Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider games. If that reference is something that seems funny or appealing to you, you'll be glad to hear that there are many more references to other games and video game characters to find throughout the XXL2 world including Rayman, Sonic, Pac-Man and Mario, but that only scratches the surface as you can find a reference to almost any video games franchise popular during the PS2 era.
In case you haven't figured it out by now, Asterix & Obelix XXL2 is a game mainly built for kids and to that extent the story does have some charm in the same way the Spyro games would, but at the same time it lacks the small details of other 3D action-platformers of the era like Kao the Kangaroo, Spyro or Rayman, not to mention the many more than have come on the market since. Jumping into the action knowing all that beforehand and setting your expectations accordingly there is still some fun to be had with XXL2 especially if you fit the game's target demographic and thinking back on it this is still a better product than any of the Asterix games I have played growing up, so as a kid this might be something you're interested in.
On the gameplay side probably the closest comparison to this game are the 3D Rayman games, as there are puzzle sections, platforming sections and button mashing roman-beating sections, but none of those are fleshed out in a significant way as the puzzles are quite obvious, but considering the fact that the game was mainly built for kids they should be and the platforming sections are easy and have no punishment for failing, as for most times if you fail a jump and fall there will usually be another platform below that will allow you to climb back up and retry the section in a matter of seconds. There are some interesting sections even without the difficulty such as the roman roulette area where puzzles are more accentuated and the outcome feels satisfying, but those are far between.
On the combat side there is a lot of enemy variety in design, but that doesn't translate to variety in gameplay as most enemies require a similar strategy to defeat with some of the enemies you've encountered before, so the difference is mainly visual. Those combat sections don't really pose a threat either as both Asterix and Obelix are overpowered heroes by design that can take on entire roman legions without a scratch, and on top of that you have the power-up potions which instead of collecting and using whenever you want, only appear in certain sections and make our heroes literally invincible. The only challenge you might have are the literal challenges scattered throughout the world which task you with defeating a number of enemies on a time limit, but even so the challenge here isn't defeating them and not dying, but instead managing to defeat all of them in the given time and get the gold rank, but aside from the achievement related to this task there is no reward for doing that, so the motivation to replay one and improve your combat ability to the point where you get the gold rank isn't something that everyone will have, especially since you can finish the game easily without having any strategy and just mashing buttons randomly.
There is also the upgrade shop from where you can upgrade your stats like HP, gain new abilities and buy collectibles with your spare helmets, but since you can easily finish the game even without purchasing one upgrade this is once again something that not all people will get into and might forget it exists entirely, however they are required if you want to go for the gold in the challenges, so if you're looking to do all the side content, getting all the upgrades is included in that. Speaking of the side content the challenges are pretty much it aside from the collectible postcards, figurines and diamond helmets, but even getting to those isn't a challenge of skill, but more a challenge of locating them. Since this was originally a game from the PS2 era some issues of the time period are here including invisible walls and camera issues, but since the areas are linear instead of open world there is little incentive to stray from the main path aside from looking for the collectibles, so most of those issues might not be a problem to you if you just want to play through the main game.
The textures have been updated and the models for all the characters look pretty modern, but by design you can still figure out this game came out in the PS2 era quite easily as the world lacks the details and scenery present in modern games and you have things like invisible walls and fixed camera angles that will constantly remind you of the game's age. On top of that you have the visual effects which have either not been updated since the original version or have been updated so badly that you don't notice, with power-up effects that seem out of place in the remastered scenery and explosion effects that aren't cropped properly and are still limited to the 4:3 aspect ratio which was the standard back in the day.
If you are familiar with the Asterix & Obelix franchise you might know that the original voices are in French and not all games have been dubbed in English and from the ones that have been dubbed, I've seen some horrible voice-over work in the earlier games, but in XXL2 the English voice-overs are actually decent, although nothing spectacular, but it feels like the voices of both Asterix & Obelix would fit in a cartoon about them and I guess that's the best thing you can wish for when it comes to English voice acting in this franchise. The soundtrack is okay although can become repetitive if you stick around in an area for too long as the same track will keep replaying, as for the audio effects, just like the visual ones, most of them feel like they've been neglected in the remaster treatment.
It takes around 8 hours to finish the main game, but if you decide to do the side content too and get the gold rank in every challenge along with finding all the collectibles the game will keep you busy for another 3-4 hours. There is no incentive to do that aside from the achievements as there are no in game rewards for completing challenges or finding collectibles, but if you've enjoyed the main game, at least there's more of that.
Asterix & Obelix XXL2 is mainly a game designed for kids, as the difficulty level is almost absent and the gameplay is simple to grasp as even if you fail to do combos, just mashing buttons randomly is enough to get through the main story, however you might have some fun with this game even as a teenager or an adult especially if you like Asterix & Obelix as characters in general or grew up with the franchise in the same way I did, but considering this isn't 2006 anymore, there are many other better games in this genre for you to try out.