Nothing about Asterix & Obelix XXL2 seems attractive at all from an outsider’s perspective. It’s a remaster of the second game in a duo of licensed PlayStation 2 and PC games based on a series of French comics – and that’s not even getting into that complete mess of a name. Given how inaccessible it all seems from the outset, it’s especially surprising that this remaster of a licensed game from the end of the PS2’s lifecycle is better than it has any right to be. It hasn’t aged very well, and you won’t hear anyone heralding it as a timeless classic, but it’s a great remaster of a decent game that deserves its time in the spotlight despite its significant price tag.
Asterix & Obelix XXL2 is built upon a decidedly simple framework, but it’s a formula that works. You swap between the small but nimble Asterix and the clumsily big yet burly Obelix to solve puzzles and take on Julius Caesar’s legion of foes as you explore the Vegas-inspired resort Las Vegum. The story isn’t much to speak of, the level design can be confusingly busy, the humour is embarrassingly dated, and the challenges you encounter don’t take much effort to overcome. But, there’s enough variety to keep things from feeling stale. It strikes a nice balance by peppering the button-mashing combat encounters throughout the more methodical platforming and puzzle solving segments to keep things just varied enough to maintain player interest.
What really enhances this otherwise by-the-book remastered port is how incredibly well the developer has integrated its entirely original additions. Not only have the assets been remade in order to pop on modern displays, but entirely new mechanics and challenges have also been added to significantly enhance the overall package. There are new combat challenges that force you to experiment with the deceptively deep combat system, and surprisingly significant persistent upgrades have been tacked on to further motivate you to pursue collecting the plentiful currency. The frequent enemy encounters feel more significant because they reward you with more of the Spartan helmet cash, and you’re further incentivized to explore when you can find valuable currency stashes hidden in tucked away corners. The new additions are seamlessly integrated into a product that’s over a decade old, and they go a long way in keeping you motivated through the somewhat antiquated gameplay that can begin to feel repetitive.
While the developer has gone above and beyond the inherent expectations of bringing a game from two console generations ago to modern hardware, they still fail to address a few problems that are common in poor-quality ports. Certain sound effects are noticeably compressed and jarringly loud which makes you frequently reach for the volume controls at inconvenient times, and the untouched cutscenes don’t look all that great despite being shrunk down to account for their diminutive resolution. While these are nitpicks that can be overlooked, they frequently pop up throughout the game’s entirety and stand out in what’s an otherwise excellent remaster.
Asterix & Obelix XXL2 is a great remaster of a solid game, but it’s time to address the elephant in the room – that $50 price tag at launch. It’s admittedly a bit much for what you get. Despite the sizeable additions, this still doesn’t feel appreciably different from your typical PS2 classic in terms of overall quality. The effort that went into remastering this game was undoubtedly immense, but the premium price means that few will be willing to dole out the cash to take a risk on something that many haven’t even heard of.
Ultimately, Asterix & Obelix XXL2 is a PS2-era remaster that’s not worth its near-AAA asking price. The brand new additions and lack of availability undoubtedly add some value, but this still feels like the decade-old game that it is. It may be worth the fairly hefty price tag for those with Asterix nostalgia or for an audience that wants to see what a late PS2 licensed platformer looks like, but it’s hard to recommend otherwise. It’s a game that deserves to be remembered and preserved, but the high cost will prevent many from experiencing this strong albeit unoriginal adventure.