Sometimes, when you want to play a game in the style of an old-school 3D platformer, you’re best simply going back and playing an old-school 3D platformer, right?! However, nostalgia goggles tend to make us believe things were once better than they actually are – this is why remasters are created, to touch up and modernise the flaws we had forgotten. The latest 3D platforming action game to get this treatment is Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 from Microïds and OSome Studios.
I’ll be honest, I have no nostalgic connection to the original PlayStation 2 game of the same name, so I came into this with a completely fresh set of eyes. I was very curious to see if the developers had changed anything other than the visuals, such as the mechanics, to bring it into the modern generation of gaming. Let’s see what I found…
Personally, I found the story in Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 to be quite entertaining and gripping – Getafix, the village druid, has seemingly betrayed all the other druids as he turns them over to Caesar without a care in the world. For anyone who isn’t aware of Asterix & Obelix’ existence, this isn’t what Getafix would do under normal circumstances. As such, nobody actually believes this is happening until they see it with their own eyes. Even then, people are left dumbfounded and bewildered as to why one of the village elders is siding with the Romans.
Unbeknown to the Romans, the latest capture was observed by none other than the infamous Ubisoft fictional character, Sam Fishe… ahem, I mean Sam Shieffer – the night-vision goggles wearing Gaulish spy. He reports his sighting back to our two loveable protagonists, and their canine friend Dogmatix, and offers to guide them through their adventure in uncovering what’s going on. Their adventure will take them through six pun-a-riffic locations deep into the heart of Las Vegum, a newly erected amusement park that has been constructed for Caesar himself!
The Controls of yesteryear?
I’ve read the information on the Steam page for Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 and it states that the gameplay and controls have been improved from the original in order to modernise and make the game more accessible. You can swap between both Asterix and Obelix at will, attack with Dogmatix, punch, kick, jump and grab. You can also use the Romans as weapons if you pick them up and perform special moves. Technically, it’s a rather simplistic beat-em-up that has a very strong emphasis on combat over all the other mechanics such as puzzles and exploration (although they are in here too).
Regardless of how simplistic the overall mechanics are, the actual games combat system can get quite deep if you wish to delve into it. You can use your acquired coins to unlock new moves and combos, obtain potions that makes you super strong, and even perform ‘bonus’ combos. What are bonus combos? Well, if you see a guy with a present on his head, you’ll see a combination of buttons on the lower part of the screen. If you take him out using that particular combo then you get extra coins or health items once he perishes.
The puzzles within the game are all really well done, if not a bit simplistic. Push a Bomberman-shaped bomb into a Tetris-filled wall, traverse old-school platforming to hit a switch, kill enemies to unlock doors, and travel the 50BC transport system. This transport system is cool – you jump into it as Asterix and Obelix grabs a rope and pulls you along in it like a kite. I really enjoyed these sections as physics get involved if you start to stray. Also, later ones move on their own and Asterix can flip upside down to avoid hitting things – it’s all rather exciting!
I personally really enjoyed the way the whole game controlled – it felt like an old-school game yet it looked pretty good (for a remaster), which brings me to…
The looks of a 2018 game?
Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 looks good, it doesn’t look amazing but it’s far from looking bad. The textures all appear to have had a major coat of paint over the original game, playing this on my PS4 Pro looked like a game I could see coming out in 2018 as a brand new release. Everything from the super-sharp character models to the beautiful and colourful environments looks simply amazing. Looking at the PS2 game’s footage online, this new version has much higher quality textures, cleaner audio, a much further LoD and smoother gameplay.
However, not everything is perfect in the land of remasters – As we saw with Zone of the Enders back in 2018, Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 originally used pre-rendered cutscenes to move the story along. Instead of recreating these or reprogramming them so the game uses real-time effects instead, the developers seem to have used the old PS2 video files. This results in a 720p image stretched to a 1080p screen in all its pixelated glory. You can, if you choose, opt to play the video at its original size, as a small window in the middle of the screen, but it still looks really bad when compared to the actual in-game graphics.
The drop in quality doesn’t affect gameplay and won’t affect your enjoyment of the game (or it shouldn’t, at least), but it was a bit offputting and a shame that they couldn’t render some new videos or change it to all be in-game. However, other than these segments, the rest of the game looks great!
As I stated before, I’ve not played Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 so what I’m about to talk about is based on what the developers have stated is now different (and things I’ve spotted by glancing at a walkthrough). The developers have advised that the progression system is different, and this would tally up with the info I saw online for the original version. There is now a way to unlock new combos, moves, health upgrades, attacks etc.. by simply finding various shops in each of the regions and purchasing them with your money. Every purchase is passive and doesn’t need to be enabled. You literally become a badass once you buy everything!
Another thing that has been altered is the collectables you need to look out for in order to get your precious trophies. Postcards used to be bought in the PS2 version, in Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 Remastered, they are scattered around the various places you’ll visit – four in each. You have some special Silver Helmets to find which are hidden in various places. These used to be used as a currency to purchase figures, but this time they are just for trophies. Finally, the aforementioned figures are now bought in the shops with actual in-game currency rather than the Silver Helmets.
Other than those changes though, I can’t see anything dramatically different between the original and the remaster – in terms of the items. There are also a number of challenges to participate in which involve things like killing as many Romans as you can or see how many you can kill in a set time. I found these to be quite tricky but they must be doable as yet another trophy hangs on getting gold in all of them.
Okay, let’s talk about the things I didn’t like or was a bit confused about. First of all, the structure of the game itself. This isn’t an issue with the remaster, it’s with Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 itself. I thought the game flowed well after I’d got used to it, but it plays a lot like Gears of War and, to an extent, Gene Rain. You find yourself moving to a new section, get locked into that location, then you have to face off against up to 200 Romans (Which the game provides a handy counter that counts down for you), solve some kind of puzzle within the area, then you move on. The structure is fine, but the barrage of enemies was a bit puzzling within this type of game.
I get it, it’s a beat-em-up action arcade game, but the first time I was up against 80 enemies in one battle I honestly didn’t know when they would stop coming – until I spotted the counter going down. I think I spent the majority of my 12 hours or so playing the game simply beating up enemies within these horde sections. Now, I love games like Dynasty Warriors as I love mindlessly beating people up with my god-like characters, cutting through everyone like butter. However, it just felt like the combat segments went on a little too long in some instances – it was almost like padding to make the game longer rather than an actual design choice.
My second issue is the voices of Asterix & Obelix. Okay, Obelix is fine – he’s a big, fat, dopey clutz who is a very simple, yet super strong, bonehead. The voice fitted him perfectly. However, since when was Asterix Welsh? Seriously, they’re both from a small French village yet the voice actor they got in for the game when it came out on the PlayStation 2 decided to make him Welsh. I’m not sure if that’s canon and I’m just remembering the duo incorrectly, but I don’t recall him having that accent before when I’ve seen different types of media based on them. Technically, the voice acting is good, it’s just the fact I see Terry Wogan if I close my eyes whilst he talks.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery:
I couldn’t review Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 without talking about the blatant IP ‘borrowing’ and mockery that takes place within the game. When I first saw it, I had to look it up online and see if this was in the original game as it really didn’t feel right, especially with all of the Nintendo brands within an originally PS2 and PC only game. Basically, you know how in Smash on the Wii U you could scan in any Amiibo and the costume would appear on your Mii, well it’s like the developers had time travelled (as it came out before the Amiibos) and scanned an Amiibo onto each of the enemies to create costumes!
Just off the top of my head, there’s a Roman with no arms or legs and dressed like Rayman, a soldier who shoots energy balls at you whilst dressed as someone from Street Fighter, one with a water firing backpack and dressed in red like Mario from Mario sunshine, and also one which is basically dressed as Sonic with his rings! Not only that, the game has Donkey Kong, Pikmin, Zelda, Sly Cooper, and Crash Bandicoot statues, Mortal Kombat and Unreal Tournament logo and poster mock-ups, a Pac-man floor as well as shields and images of the ghosts, and many, many more!
I seriously don’t know how the developers got away with it as this kind of parody and implementation is the kind of thing you would see on a Nintendo version of a multiplatform game providing you scan your Amiibos into the scanner. The one which made me laugh was Lara Croft. In Asterix & Obelix XXL 2, Lara is actually Larry Craft who’s an overweight bounty hunter hired by Caesar to take our protagonists down. I seriously doubt teenage boys back in the day ripped down their posters of Lara in favour of Larry for some reason…
I found a list over on GameFAQs of all the references someone had found – it’s a very, very big list. I would recommend picking up the game purely to try and spot them all for yourself.
Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 is a great blast from the past yet modernised visually and mechanically. I love that the developers didn’t go overboard and revamp everything about the game, it’s an old-school 3D platformer with plenty of action and a few puzzles yet it looks great – not including the cutscenes. Sure, the game has a lot of rather frustrating pixel-perfect jumps and enemies who stand on edges waiting to push you off, but that’s simply part of the charm and the reason we love nostalgiac games, isn’t it?!
If you’re looking for a game that isn’t that challenging (on medium difficulty) which is both fun to play and satisfying to complete, then check out Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 today on pretty much every platform out there!
Also, if you buy it physically then you get three small figures! Plus – Asterix & Obelix XXL 3 is due out later this year!
Asterix & Obelix XXL 2£44.99
- - Looks great for a PS2 remaster as it's nice and sharp + colourful
- - Modernised with easy to upgrade skills and moves as well as moving around collectibles
- - Lots of references to other games to the point where you wonder how they got away with it
- - Catchy music and good voice acting...
- - Has the feeling of an old-school 3D platformer but in the modern era
- - Asterix is Welsh
- - Easy to get lost or unsure on what to do next at certain points
- - The cutscenes are all PS2 quality
- - Platforming is a bit pixel-perfect at times and can get a little frustrating when Mari... Pablo keeps shooting water at you
- - Asterix is Welsh (deserves a second mention)