Playing Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 raised a number of questions.
Why on earth has this game been remastered? Why do the videos look so goddamn terrible? And for just how long has Asterix had a Welsh accent?
None of those questions I can really answer, but if you’re considering picking up Asterix & Obelix XXL 2, you need to bear in mind that it’s a remaster of a 12-year old game that first appeared on PlayStation 2. While the in-game graphics have been tidied up, cutscene videos have inexplicably been left untouched. And as you can imagine, they do not look good. The rest of it may look okay, but it sure plays like a 12-year old game.
I’m not sure why an Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 remaster needs to exist. It’s not exactly a game that was culturally relevant or particularly well-lauded the first time around. It’s a bog-standard 3D platform game based on a franchise that nobody has really cared about since the 90s. But still, here it is, polished up and available on our modern-day consoles. It’s not entirely terrible, but it’s certainly not great, either.
In Asterix & Obelix XXL 2, you play as (surprisingly enough) Asterix and/or Obelix. Both characters are present continually, and you can flick between them with the touch of a button. Like most platform games, gameplay is a mix of puzzle solving and combat – although combat features perhaps too heavily throughout the game. There are a few interesting puzzles that require Asterix and Obelix to use their unique skills to solve, but these are pretty few and far between. Mostly, you’ll be smashing the ‘attack’ button and trying to land some combos as you battle through screens full of repetitive enemy types.
The game’s combat isn’t awful. There’s a fairly solid combo system that allows you to mix up standard attacks with special moves to do more damage and to make battles feel less repetitive. You can jump on opponents from above, for example. Or perhaps you’d rather stun one, then grab it by its legs and swing it around to inflict damage on others. However, new opponent types are drip-fed to you as you progress through the game, which means for the most part, you’re only ever fighting three of four different types of enemies at one time.
There’s a difficulty setting for the game which determines how challenging the combat is. Though good luck if you choose ‘hard’; for what appears to be a children’s game, battles can be pretty hairy when there are 30 or so enemies on screen all spamming their various attacks at you. Still, the range of attacks at your disposal make it pretty fun – at least for a while. The problem comes when the game constantly throws massive groups of enemies at you without much room to breathe. They’re fun in short bursts, but when the majority of Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 is spent completing similar battles, it soon gets repetitive and boring.
While there’s a narrative thread to the game, it’s pretty hard to care about – largely because the cutscenes are such poor quality. They’re untouched from the PS2 version so play at some ungodly resolution that looks utterly atrocious on modern TVs. Skipping them is the only human thing to do, really.
Not that the story is particularly essential to the gameplay in any way. It didn’t matter much to me why Asterix and Obelix were doing what they were doing. Moving from A to B, and fighting a lot of enemies in the process, was about all that felt relevant.
There are a few quirks to Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 that’ll raise a smile. Throughout the game, icons and characters resembling other video game franchises will pop up. Space Invaders are carved into a wall, for instance, and some enemy types you encounter resemble Mario, Ryu, Pac-Man and Sonic, among others. There’s also a dude called “Larry Craft” who seems awfully familiar.
The nods to other franchises are just a bit of fun, and honestly feel a bit out of place at times, but they at least inject a bit of personality into the game. Even if some of the enemy types are super annoying. The enemy based on Mario inexplicably fires a water cannon at you, preventing you from getting close to attack. It might just be the most annoying enemy attack ever, and has absolutely nothing to do with Mario. But he’s wearing a red hat and has a moustache, so what more do you want?
If you happen to still love the Asterix & Obelix franchise, then I suppose Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 is a no-brainer. It’s not a bad game by any means, but it’s certainly not good or genre-defining in any way. It’s very much of a time – a time that was 12 years ago – and struggles to live up to standards set by modern games of a similar genre. It’s fine, but don’t expect anything more than minimal mirth for a few hours.