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Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief Review
Review Score:

All battle, no bolt

Activision brings us the video game instalment of the current box office buster, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief. It’s currently out in the cinema as we speak and oddly enough my significant other and niece is actually seeing it as I write this. Yes, the game reviewing world sometimes deprives you from cinematic delights if there is a work load to do. Nevermind, I shall sit here with a coke and a smile instead. So what’s it all about? Well, it’s probably the US equivalent of Harry Potter except instead of Wizards it’s replaced by demigods and Greek Mythology. In Riordan’s epic adventure (author) these Greek gods are alive today and living amongst us. Percy is accused of stealing Zeus’s lightning bolt which just happens to be most powerful weapon that resides in the universe. With Percy having to prove his innocence and attempt to stop an all out war with the gods his work is most certainly cut out.

So you get an idea of the plot line and the game does a good job of gently introducing you into the world almost as if you are Percy yourself, he doesn’t know any more than you do and soon he is sent into a tumbling world of confusion as he finds out his dad is Posiedon. Not exactly your average day then? No, especially when your maths teacher turns into a monster and your disabled principle turns into half beast, half human. You could be forgiven for snorting a little bit of the white stuff and totally tripping out on the outlandish plot line but Riordan’s world is most certainly inventive and interesting. Unfortunately, Activision lacked the attention needed to make the game that interesting. The plot line is executed with a lack of animation and instead slide based screens with static text and this isn’t helped with the hand drawn characters that lack any real recognisable features. A shame, as the plot line should have spoken for itself.

One you become acquainted to basic combat you’ll be whisked off to camp half-blood where you’ll meet other demigods that want to kill you. Nice. Fortunately combat is relatively forgiving and unlike many turn based RPG titles, you’re not required to grind and level up to progress. This in turn can appeal and put off some people. There is no real freedom in terms of where you want to go in the game, it has a grid based path system that keeps you on the straight and narrow and whilst there are some optional battles to get additional items and up your skill level, you’re not engaged into forced combat, you’ll walk into it knowing a battle is ahead thanks to its distinctive symbolism on the map. Now in terms of strategy there is quite a depth to it, to equip your Demigods which will include your protector Grover, a girl called Annabeth amongst others, you can never be overly attacking minded. You will need someone in your team that can heal as enemies come in different variations and can put you on the back foot. Stick one of your healers into the mix and you’ll have a well rounded battle that in theory you should be able to win without having to retry at all.

So what about the powers that they possess? Well Percy gains the power of the sewer early on and that does not require a degree in scatology. His poison magic will cause constant damage to the enemy for a set number of turns, other highlights include pick pocketing, making your enemies blind and the ability to raise your accuracy levels for a team attack. The team attack itself can be extremely powerful, but you’ll need to build the power meter to ever see it used, charging this up on spare turns can be devastating in boss fights, so it’s worth using it. Now, obviously this game is on the DS. So you would expect some stylus type gestures and in the game you’ll come across a few of them. Each time the enemy attacks you, you can tap the bottom screen to activate your shield. This can be incredibly tricky, especially when you first play the game. Each enemy has a different attack speed and animation, so it’s very difficult to avoid plenty of damage on each go, thankfully that’s the case otherwise it just would have been overly easy. One of the other gestures is using swiping motions to build up an attack strength on a single shot, this seems to randomly happen in battle and once again it’s utterly devastating and can win you battles at times.

So the combat system sounds pretty intuitive and for the most part it is, the stylus doesn’t have the most fantastic registration however it’s a game that won’t punish you for not having a 100% response rate. My other gripe with the combat system is the magical powers themselves, the animations are simply woeful. You may see a colour emit from your sword, or a cloud of smoke appear over a characters head and considering that the DS has pretty much a 64bit engine you would of expected Activision to at least put some extra polish into these areas. Oh, you’ll also notice that if you are in a given area the same background textures are used all the time. Not very fun when your stuck inside Camp Half Blood for easily over an hour. Luckily though, the monsters are pretty cool in this game, from Fury’s to Skeletons although sometimes repetitive there is a new enemy thrown into the works often enough to make it visually interesting. It’s not until later in the game though that you’ll start using certain magical elements like fire and poison to affect your enemies to the optimum amount. Most of the time you’ll be swinging your sword and using melee attacks as it seems to deliver the most HP punch.

For your RPG fan, this game isn’t going to interest you mainly because it’s RPG elements aren’t too deep enough and the narrative simply isn’t engaging enough. Couple this without a free roam system and it just cannot stand up to any of the Final Fantasy games. For the casual gamer, there may be somewhere in the marketplace for this title, it’ll no doubt sell pretty well like all movie licensed titles do however, I can’t see many going past the three hour mark before they lose interest in the constant battles and lack of variation to the gameplay. Not amazing, not bad either. It sits nicely in the mediocre category much like the movie.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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