Game Over Online ~ Asterix: The Gallic War

GameOver Game Reviews - Asterix: The Gallic War (c) Infogrames, Reviewed by - Vince Vega

Game & Publisher Asterix: The Gallic War (c) Infogrames
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium 166, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 25%
Date Published Tuesday, September 26th, 2000 at 08:58 PM

Divider Left By: Vince Vega Divider Right

Those popular European comic book characters Asterix and Obelix are back for more highjinx in their latest adventure, Asterix: The Gallic War. Unlike their previous voyage, Asterix & Obelix: Take on Caesar, which was an arcade side-scroller, The Gallic War is an action-strategy game. Tactics to invent, territories to protect, ingredients to find, and loads of punches to hand out! By Toutatis! The re-conquest of Gaul has begun.

The war between the Gauls and the Romans continues as the Romans, led by Caesar, have seized all but one of the territories belonging to the Gaul Empire. Playing as Asterix, Obelix and the rest of the Celtic Gaul army, it's up to you to reclaim your homeland piece by piece. The Gallic War reminds me a great deal of an older gem of a strategy game by the name of Defender of the Crown from Cinemaware. It featured an epic struggle between the Saxons and the Normans. Much like The Gallic War, the land was divided into territories. In order to garner a territory, you had to perform various tasks, which included catapult assaults to destroy the gate and outer defences, sword fights to defeat the army within, and majestic tournaments. After capturing a territory, you then had to protect it from possible onslaughts. It was a perfect blend of action and strategy elements, which made Defender of the Crown one of the most successful PC titles of its time.

The problem with The Gallic War is that it fails to find the right mixture of action and strategy. You begin the game with a single mass of land. You must accumulate your army within and forge outwards, capturing lands adjacent to yours. When you decide to attack another piece of land, one of three things will happen: 1) you'll enter a side-scrolling action sequence, 2) your men will wage war against forces within that land, or 3) you'll play one of four mini-games. These mini-games, however, make absolutely no sense in the grand scheme of things. They include such events as 'Throw the Roman' and 'Bowling for Romans', but what does throwing a Roman soldier the furthest have to do with gaining control of a territory? "Oh look, I can roll a boulder and hit 20 Romans in 90 seconds, of course that means I'm the better man, now get off my land!" In the same vein of wackiness, the action sequences play out much like the previous Asterix game, as a side-scroller. You'll wander around collecting coins and other items and if you can last the level without getting yourself killed, you'll gain control of the land as well as the resources within that land. I don't quite understand how either of these methods is supposed to dictate leadership and power and it creates an awkward and un-rewarding gaming experience to say the least.

There are also instances, particularly with smaller territories, where there are no mini-games or action sequences to complete. In such territories, it'll come down to man-to-man combat between your troops and the opposing troops. Once you've selected how many men you wish to send to war, the battle will begin. Unfortunately, in this scenario, the battles are fought automatically, with no control whatsoever. The outcome is generated randomly it seems, so there's no guarantee you'll win or lose. There are 9 diverse levels in all, including a Roman camp, Gallo-Roman village, the Alps and even a Pirate's Ship, so at least there's variety in the aforementioned action sequences. There are 4 mini-games in total that test your reflexes, if anything. Although the game boasts freedom in terms of where you wish to attack, eventually you'll end up traversing all the necessary spots to win the war. The Romans aren't ones to sit still, you'll have to defend each of your territories carefully as they try to gain back control of their territories. When all is said and done though, the action sequences seem contrived and certainly don't match the strategy elements of the game.

Graphically, The Gallic War only supports resolutions up to 640x480, so don't expect to be wow'ed by the visuals. Although 3D cards are supported, the environments look and feel old. The level of detail is terribly low and although the game is obviously intended to have a cartoon feel, it still lacks character and interaction. I found several graphical glitches throughout the game, particular during the side-scrolling levels. The only bright spot, in terms of visuals, came during the in-game movie-like sequences that feature some decent comic book-like scenes. The sound department isn't much better either. The effects are few and far between and when you do here a bleep or two, it's often quite bland.

The Gallic War is a one-player experience. There are no multiplayer options available, which comes as no surprise considering this is very much an old-school strategy game. You can practice any of the four mini-games and a handful of the action levels before beginning the battle, if you'd like, although the games by themselves aren't any better on their own than they are in the game.

Asterix: The Gallic War is a poor hybrid of action and strategy. The action sequences have little, if anything, in common with the strategy elements of the game and are very uninspiring. Why not include hand-to-hand battles with Roman characters, or even chariot races for control of a particular piece of land? It would certainly be more consistent with the theme than a 'Bowling for Romans' game. Unless you need to get your hands on everything Asterix, this game has little to offer to either action or strategy fans, let alone fans of the comic book series.


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