Way back in 2006, Atari teamed up with French developers Estrange Libellules to create the second instalment of their Asterix & Obelix XXL series. The legendary French comic book characters of Asterix and Obelix were front and centre in an action-packed adventure that’s littered with video game references and spoofs. Many gamers may have missed it the first time around and so Microids have collaborated with OSome Studio to deliver a remastered version of Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 on Xbox One. Will it hold up in the modern era though? Has it brought anything new to the table, or is it merely the same game without any noticeable improvements?
Whilst it’s not a game that tons of people were crying out for, there’s certainly a place for Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 on the current market and, surprisingly, the enhancements really make a difference all round.
Asterix and Obelix are tasked with foiling the plans of the evil Julius Caesar and rescue the handful of druids that have been captured by the Romans. To do so, you’ll need to venture into Caesar’s Las Vegum amusement park and conquer the six different areas within it – Lutetia, Venitia, LuckSore, WCW, Pirate Island and SeizeUs Palace. Each place has a similar vibe, but is designed in a way that suits the theme of the area, ensuring there are enough differences between them to avoid feeling too samey.
The story is told through a decent amount of cutscenes and the impressive script guarantees a few laughs are going to be had, whilst the narrative itself is interesting enough to grasp your attention. It helps that most of the voiceovers are of a very good standard, except for Asterix; I still can’t overlook that this Gaul sounds Welsh and sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the rest of the voices. Whether intentional or not, it doesn’t sound natural. What’s also disappointing is the lack of remastering in regards the cutscenes; they look rather bad and often pixelated.
Fortunately, the rest of the game has been treated to enhanced visuals relating to the environmental textures and better looking character models, including the enemies. It’s a good job really as there are loads of enemies in view at times and it’d be a shame if they looked outdated. Especially given that one of the main gameplay aspects sees you battling hordes of Roman legionnaires quite regularly. Although the better visuals do come at a cost, that of minor but noticeable stuttering during fights and just general movement.
Brawling with either Asterix or Obelix (you can switch between them at will) is pretty varied thanks to sheer amount of enemy types. Of course there are the bog standard Romans who offer little threat, but the rest are quite delightful. My favourites are the Rayman rip-offs that throw wicked punches at you, the copycats of Ryu from Street Fighter that can perform the Hadouken manoeuvre, and the swift Sonic the Hedgehog wannabes that carry gold rings. As long-time gamer, I found the homage to classic characters simply brilliant and it’s not just the enemies either, with artistic references found throughout the areas that give a nod to Donkey Kong, Mortal Kombat and so many more.
The actual combat sees the titular characters able to pull off a selection of combos and stun inducing moves. When stunned, it’s great fun to pick an enemy up and swing them around as a human weapon, but the basic combos do lack a tad in terms of innovation – that’s if you can get the combo to work as one in particular doesn’t seem to respond to the supposed commands for it. Their sidekick Dogmatix is always on hand to bite a few Romans on the backside too. Every enemy type has a different attack or defensive quirk, which means you will have to try alternate techniques to defeat each of them, instead of mindlessly bashing the basic attack. It’s not easy when you’re getting swarmed, but unlike the old game, new passive skills have been added to help overcome the masses of Romans and there are shops that provide has these for purchase, along with health bar upgrades and other combat-based improvements. This is where the helmet currency, earned from defeating enemies and such, can be spent.
There’s more to the gameplay than brutish behaviour though, with Asterix and Obelix each being useful in puzzling situations. Asterix can travel on a method of transportation akin to a ski lift in order to reach certain places and is tiny enough to squeeze through small passages. On the other hand, Obelix is able to destroy some blockades and can fit into a specific contraption that allows him to be launched in the air. At times, it doesn’t matter who you use, and the focus is merely on the guiding of bombs or jumping across platforms in a timely manner.
The biggest let down from the gameplay side of proceedings is in the boss style encounters, due to the fact that it’s too easy to defeat them. As an example, to claim victory in the first boss battle you simply have to step on buttons when the boss is underneath a heavy object, then rinse and repeat twice more. It feels like such an anti-climax.
Aside from the main objectives of a level, there are also a number of challenges and collectibles present that weren’t necessarily in the original outings. The challenges seem a bit pointless though, because the goal is to beat up as many Romans as possible in a set time limit. When fighting plays a huge part in the overall progression through Asterix & Obelix XXL 2, it’s hard to find the desire to do more of it. Finding the collectibles is a decent pastime at least, with Postcards well hidden in each area, Diamond helmets to locate and figurines to purchase. If you miss any, that’s no problem because the newly introduced fast travel system ensures it’s easy to jump between the areas.
There are moments in Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 where you’ll realise it’s from a different era, especially in regards the cutscenes and puzzle concepts, but overall, it’s a fun experience that’ll remind you of so many nostalgic video game characters and franchises. The majority of the remastered enhancements make it worthy of being reintroduced to a generation of gamers that will have missed out on it previously, despite the steep price. Only those who enjoy the classics of yesteryear should consider buying Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 on Xbox One at the full cost though, but if it goes on sale then I’d not hesitate to get involved in the adventure.