Review | 6/10/2010 at 5:28 AM

Clash of the Titans Co-op Review

I am an avid gamer and have played close to 300 games in the current crop of consoles.  This means that I have played the cream of games, but I also don’t mind wallowing a little in the rancid milk of mediocrity.  I have always had a soft spot for sword ‘n’ sandals based games and have enjoyed the likes of Rise of the Argonauts, Viking, Conan and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic.  None of these games set the world alight and most of them received low review scores, but I still liked them because they had character and a weight that an ancient setting gives a game.  Surely a game that has this setting and comes with added local 2 player co-op would be the best of the bunch?  Clash of the Titans set out to prove me wrong.

To review the co-op aspects of Clash I first have to review the single player game.  This is because it takes almost three hours for you to unlock the first mission that allows co-op play.  You read correctly, for a game that has the official 2 player local co-op sign on the back of the box; it takes the time to watch the film to unlock the game mode.  This led to some awkward moments on the gaming couch as I started the game, and then played it some more and some more.  Then a little more.  My co-op partner arrived expecting to pick up a pad and play, but was left deeply disappointed.

Party like its 2006 with an ancient giant enemy crab

It did not help that they had to witness one of the least inspiring experiences since Red Dwarf’s Rimmer decided to paint the walls Military Grey instead of Ocean Grey.  The game is loosely based on the recent film as you follow Perseus and co on their quest to destroy the Kraken before it lays waste to Argos (the ancient city not the popular British catalogue store).  Player one is Perseus and as the game progresses you come across a series of hub areas that contain characters who present you with quests.  Armed with your instructions you then set off onto a map area, which is reused several times, to reach your goal.  Rinse and repeat until you move onto a boss battle and the next hub.  Instantly there are issues with the recycling of the same levels and a confusing map that is lost deep within the submenus.  The quests felt more like a series of arena battles than a coherent game and are not improved by the long loading times between areas.

The combat does not fare much better in terms of inspiration, it’s hack ‘n’ slash at its most basic; trying to mimic the likes of God of War, but fails to even achieve a Dynasty Warriors level of combat.  As Perseus you can use a second weapon that you claim off enemies via a mini game that is just tapping a few buttons.  You can also upgrade your many secondary weapons and use them for special attacks.  It soon becomes deeply confusing with the various weapons you can and cannot use on certain enemies.  You also end up having to rewatch the same killing animations as special attacks seem to be the only way to down an enemy in a reasonable time frame.  Monotony thy name is Crash of the Titans.

Hammer Time?
  Having undermined the single player aspect of the game perhaps it is the co-op element (when it finally arrived) that will be the game’s saving grace?  I have found that many below average games have been greatly improved with the ability to play with a friend e.g. Damnation, Fairytale Fights.  However, a poorly implemented co-op mode can only add to the negative side of a game and in many ways this is exactly what Clash does.
  On certain missions throughout the game you are allowed to take a co-op partner along with you, usually in the guise of one of the major characters from the film.  Each has a slightly different set of skills that means they are better as ranged or close combat fighters.  The differences are marked enough that your gaming partner will probably choose one person they prefer.  Here is where the positives end.  The issues with the single player are present in the co-op mode with two players instead of one hacking and slashing for all their worth.  However, the mode also introduces its own unique issues.
Rubber banding is a problem.  The issue is similar to that in Fable 2 were both players must be on the same screen, but when Fable 2 allowed you to warp closer to your ally, Clash makes the screen stop.  This leads to many frustrating moments as two players run in opposite directions, but neither can reach their goal.  Compounding this is the fact that many enemies need to be finished off with a special move that can only be activated when you stand next to them.  I cannot count the number of times I was striving to move the screen to finish of a member of the undead whilst my partner was trying to do the same thing elsewhere on screen.  A dynamic splitscreen as seen in Lego Indiana Jones 2 would have really enhanced the game.
To give developers Game Republic their due, I don’t think that the co-op elements of Clash of the Titans were an afterthought, just a poorly implemented one.  The game itself is poor as a solo experience, but to call it true co-op when you have to wait almost three hours to play it in this style is a little crazy.  To add to this frustration, some missions will be co-op for the first part, only for it to become single player at the quest’s finale.  How many friends do you know who will sit around and watch you play when they are meant to be on screen?  When the co-op does commence it is a confusing and jumbled affair as you mash buttons wildly.  Player 2 will probably spend the first five minutes each time they get in game trying to remember the buttons to press.  I cannot recommend Clash of the Titans for either single or co-op play, as the basics of the game are poor.  Whilst some lacking games use co-op to make them at least entertaining, the co-op here only compounds the issues.  I get the sense that this tie in of Clash was not delayed to enhance the game, but more likely to avoid reflecting negatively on the film.