Asterix & Obelix XXL2 is a third-person action adventure puzzle platformer available from retail stores as a standard, limited and collector edition in Europe and for download in all regions from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Asterix and Obelix are French comic book characters that originated in comic magazine Pilote on October 29th 1959 created by writer Rene Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo; having since had numerous films and videogames. Asterix & Obelix XXL2 is a HD remaster of Asterix & Obelix XXL2: Mission: Las Vegum that originally released on PS2 and PC in 2006, but Asterix & Obelix games originated a long time before Asterix & Obelix XXL released on PS2 in 2004. Games based upon Asterix and Obelix as individual characters or a duo began in 1983 when two games respectively titled Asterix and Obelix released on the Atari 2600, while Asterix and the Magic Cauldron brought the subject matter to Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum in 1986 before Asterix and the Magic Carpet released on Commodore 64, Amiga 500 and Atari ST in 1987. However, after a series of games released on Nintendo and SEGA platforms; it was not until 1999 when an Asterix & Obelix game finally arrived on PlayStation with Asterix: The Gallic War, while Asterix & Obelix Take on Caesar and Asterix: Mega Madness in 2000 and 2001 respectively with the most recent PlayStation platform release prior to the PS4 remaster of Asterix & Obelix XXL2 was the local multiplayer Asterix at the Olympics on PS2 in 2008. Can the Asterix & Obelix XXL2 HD remaster deliver a noticeable improvement in comparison to the original PS2 version?

The story revolves around the druid Getafix betraying his people referred to as Gauls by siding with the Roman emperor Julius Caesar who has built a theme park named Las Vegum in a spoof of Las Vegas; resulting in French comic book characters Asterix and Obelix needing to set off on an adventure to save the day.

Asterix & Obelix XXL2 features a story campaign comprising 30 levels, alongside collectibles including a diamond knight’s helmet per level for a total of 30 diamond knight’s helmet and 24 postcards that require the player to thoroughly explore environments in order to find them. Challenges are situated throughout the gameplay including two challenges per zone for a total of 12 challenges; involving multiple waves of enemies appearing with a certain quantity needing to be defeated within the given time limit in order to successfully achieve a bronze, silver or gold star rating for each individual challenge that rewards the player with in-game currency.

Asterix and Obelix both have their unique skills such as Asterix being able to fit into tighter spaces than Obelix before pressing a switch to open a door for Obelix to enter the room followed by Obelix performing a move to fit into the middle of a circular object with Asterix needing to spin the outer wheel of the object in order to catapult Obelix onto a higher otherwise out of reach platform; therefore emphasising the need for the player to switch between the two lead characters. Meanwhile, Obelix can smash through reinforced doors, Asterix can fit into a small pulley system and Obelix can manoeuvre the pulley by holding onto a rope that leads to a previously out of reach platform.

Character upgrades are available from the in-game shop that can be purchased via in-game currency in the form of knights helmets that are collected by destroying crates and defeating enemies. Character upgrades are separated into four categories with the first upgrades including objects such as shields to increase the health of Asterix and Obelix at a price of 50 knights helmets; techniques such as an attack for Dogmatix that inflicts 50% more damage on enemies for a cost of 500 knights helmets; upgrades such as mastering the art of punching in order to hit enemies at a much faster pace after having hit them repeatedly for a price of 1,000 knights helmets; and figurines that can be purchased for a varying quantity of knights helmets.

The main abilities of Asterix and Obelix are spread over the course of five categories including life, fury, passive, combos and techniques in the style of a skills tree. Life expands the maximum quantity of hearts from 4 to 7; levels 2 and 3 of fury mode increases damage inflicted to enemies by 25% and 50% respectively; passive abilities increase the stun time on enemies by 50% and defeated enemies occasionally drop a leg of lamb to replenish health; and combos provide unique special moves after pressing a combination of four buttons in the appropriate order. Meanwhile, techniques provide a further 7 moves to perform on enemies when in combat such as the Dogmatix move; making enemies spin into other enemies; sliding into enemies to simultaneously stun and inflict damage; using an enemy as a whip against his allies; piledriving an enemy in order to simultaneously create a shockwave that inflicts damage on enemies and pushes them back; throwing an enemy at other enemies to stun and inflict damage; and an aerial move that causes a shockwave to stun nearby enemies.

Enemy design is varied as there are smaller Romans with a javelin style weapon, a larger Roman equipped with a weapon and shield that requires Obelix to power through the shield, other large Romans are equipped with a giant sword or a mace, an enemy reminiscent of Mario that sprays water in your character’s direction before letting out a yell of “Mamma Mia!” after being defeated, an enemy akin to Ryu from Street Fighter that fires ice from his hands, an enemy utilises a Pacman shield, an enemy that informs Caesar of Asterix and Obelix trying to scupper his plans named Larry Craft is reminiscent of a weird take on the retro design of Lara Croft, especially in clothing and hairstyle and much more besides.

Las Vegum theme park is spread throughout half a dozen zones including Lutetia, Venitia, LuckSore, WCW, Pirate Island and SeizeUs Palace that are all based upon the name that they closely resemble, while a fast travel feature allows the player to revisit levels that the player has previously unlocked. Some environments have rivers of water that Asterix and Obelix can swim through, while most environments contain doors that can only be unlocked by defeating a particular quantity of enemies or in some occasions performing a specific combat move such as stunning an enemy followed by picking them up and throwing a specified quantity at a target or multiple targets in order to open a path to the next area. There are some humorous references to videogames within the environment design such as a decoration that depicts Space Invaders esque symbols, doors made from Tetris shapes, a bridge with Lemmings characters drawn on the side of it, areas that have iconic videogame characters such as Rayman carved into the walls and much more besides.

Asterix & Obelix XXL2 has a standard retail release in Europe, alongside a limited edition that includes the game and three figurines depicting characters Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix, alongside a collector edition containing the game, an exclusive 15cm tall resin Asterix figurine, an exclusive child size t-shirt and two lithographs that are also only available in Europe, albeit from various retailers for differing prices.

Asterix & Obelix XXL2 will not be ported to Vita, despite Asterix & Obelix XXL2: Mission: Wifix being released on PSP and Nintendo DS, while the previous game in the series was released on Game Boy Advance in 2004, although remote play is a consolation. Asterix & Obelix XXL2’s remote play performance is excellent as the graphics, audio and general performance is the same quality as the PS4 version. Remote play controls are exactly the same as that of the DualShock 4 controller due to nothing be mapped to R2 or L2; resulting in a very playable and enjoyable remote play experience.

The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the control scheme consisting of pressing X to jump or quickly double tapping X to double jump; pressing square to punch; pressing O to kick or pull switches or stomping after jumping or double jumping; pressing triangle to grab; pressing a combination of buttons to perform combo combat moves; pressing L1 to perform Dogmatix’ attack; pressing R1 to switch hero; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move your character; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to pan the camera; pressing the options button to display the pause menu; and pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu. Vibration occurs when enemies hit the character of Asterix or Obelix that the player is controlling and a subtle vibration when stomping, although there is no touch pad implementation that could have provided an alternative for controlling the pulleys within those respective puzzles, while there is no light bar support that could have produced an alternative HUD for the health bar of the character the player is controlling between Asterix or Obelix.

Graphically, Asterix & Obelix XXL2’s remaster features new textures and character models for every character and enemy, alongside new textures and lighting for environments, while the performance is consistent in the vast majority of gameplay even when there are dozens of enemies on screen simultaneously. However, the camera does tend to end up behind a wall from time to time, although the ease of repositioning the camera angle closer to the character or panning 360 degrees means that is only a very temporary issue when it does occur. Meanwhile, outside of gameplay; the story cutscenes does not appear to have been fully remastered, but are of a fair quality, although by default they are presented within a smaller letterbox display, but can be expanded to almost full screen with a border at the top and bottom by pressing X followed by pressing triangle.

Asterix & Obelix XXL2’s presentation is minimalist in its small quantity of pre-gameplay menus that are navigated by the left analogue stick, d-pad and face buttons, alongside gameplay menus. Menu backgrounds are a blurred environment with a stylish title logo situated to the top centre of the main menu and an ornate golden outline around the menus.

Voice-overs provide a further increase to the humour throughout every character from Asterix and Obelix to enemies such as Larry Craft. Sound effects include Asterix and Obelix running, jumping or double jumping, performing moves during combat against enemies, enemies retaliating with their unique moves, defeating enemies, destroying crates, collecting knight’s helmets and ambience such as waterfalls and swimming; accompanied by adventurous music. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation, although it could have produced character and enemy voice-overs.

The trophy list includes 31 trophies with 14 bronze trophies, 11 silver trophies, 5 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Let the Games Begin bronze trophy for buying an upgrade and the A Gift for Panacea bronze trophy for buying a figurine. Harder trophies include the Legendary Gaulish Warrior gold trophy for finishing all challenges; the Who Needs Postaldistrix gold trophy for finding every postcard; and the Unhealthix Would Be Proud gold trophy for finding every diamond helmet. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 20 hours to platinum the trophy list.

There are three difficulty levels including easy, normal and hard with the major differences being tougher enemy A.I. as easy difficulty will not provide that much of a challenge during general gameplay, while normal difficulty is the default difficulty that provides a fair balance between easy and hard, although hard difficulty is much tougher as enemy A.I. are relentless in their attempts to defeat your character. However, regardless of the enemy A.I. difficulty, the environment design is identical; therefore some hard puzzles such as pulley related puzzles and exploration puzzles are still going to provide a challenge no matter what the difficulty level is.

Despite there being two lead characters with participation required from both for a lot of puzzles; there is actually no local co-operative multiplayer, while there is also no online multiplayer and no online leaderboards that could have showcased the fastest time to complete each story level and challenge, alongside the entire story.

Asterix & Obelix XXL2’s replayability stems from a story campaign comprising 30 levels, a multitude of collectibles and challenges, alongside numerous character upgrades for both playable characters Asterix and Obelix, three difficulty levels, HD remastered graphics and a genuinely fun sense of humour that will collectively have players returning for many hours.

Analysis
• Title: Asterix & Obelix XXL2
• Developer: OSome Studio
• Publisher: Microids
• System: PS4
• Format: Blu-Ray Disc (Europe)/PSN Download (America)
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1
• Hard Drive Space Required: 4.21GB (Version 1.03)

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Storyline
90 %
Gameplay
90 %
Graphics & Sound
90 %
Controls
90 %
Difficulty
90 %
Replayability
90 %
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Jason
Jason plays all genres of games and enjoys all different kinds of experiences that the games industry has to offer. Jason’s favourite PlayStation exclusive franchises throughout various eras include: Crash Bandicoot, God of War, Gran Turismo, inFamous, Killzone, Little Big Planet, MotorStorm, Resistance, Spyro the Dragon, Uncharted, Wipeout and various games that never became big name franchises. A special mention goes to Black Rock’s superb Split Second: Velocity as it is rather unbelievable that it will never receive a sequel. Jason now mainly plays modern PlayStation games on home console and portably, but occasionally returns to the old retro classics on the 3DO, PS1 and PS2 such as discovering Cool Spot Goes to Hollywood 20 years after its original release on PS1. Jason is happy to see gaming coming full circle with updates for retro classics such as Alien Breed, Superfrog and Crash Bandicoot.

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