Here’s the thing, whenever I receive a videogame based on a movie, I pretty much already know that it isn’t going to live up to its namesake, nevertheless, I always go into games like this with an open-mind. And that was especially the case with The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian. The GBA port was actually a pretty damn good game so how bad can the PS2 version be? Unfortunately, the PS2 rendition of The Scorpion King follows the age-old movie-license tradition of sucking. It is a straightforward brawler that controls sloppily and attempts to mix in components like an experience-based system but fails miserably in almost every regard. This should come as no surprise to gamers who have been stung by crappy videogame ports of popular movies in recent years but you have to wonder, how long will it be before videogame publishers realize that simply slapping a popular license on a quick-and-dirty title won’t guarantee success?
The plot of Rise of the Akkadian revolves around everyone’s favorite WWE fighter gone glam: The Rock. You’ll take control of Mathayus, as he is known in the movie, and battle your way to the eventual showdown with a wicked sorcerer who is bent on filling the world with chaos. As you might have guessed, RotA’s story has little to do with the actual movie and is instead a prequel that gives you insight to Mathayus’ past. Normally it would be a good thing to deviate from the movie’s storyline, but in this case it has done little to turn this generic title into something other than boring.
The in-game action uses a third-person view much like Blood Omen 2, and like that game you’ll traverse many olden areas with the primary objective to hack and slash, not to mention the inclusion of simple puzzles that usually entail doing such things as turning a crank in order to open a door in a different area of the stage. In fairness, The Scorpion King does have a respectable arsenal of combat maneuvers that are simple to pull off. Looking at this “adventure” game in that respect, it actually stacks up pretty nicely to other simple brawlers of gaming-past like Combatribes or Final Fight.
The fighting system is easily picked up almost from the onset of the game. X is used for your primary attacks, picking up objects, and throwing objects. Square performs a strong attack that takes a little longer to carry out compared to your standard attack. Triangle executes a powerful attack, which depletes your stamina meter. Circle jumps, L1 blocks, and R1 will make Mathayus perform a taunt. Hitting different combinations of attack buttons (like X, X, Square, Square) is where you’ll find some of the cooler moves in the game and as you progress through the opponent-laden stages, you’ll start to pick up on different attack combos.
Weapons and shields can also be picked up and the cool thing about that, other than the increased damage you deal to baddies, is that the moves you perform with them differ from your standard non-weapon fighting fare. Obviously you’ll move around with the L-analog but thankfully you can also rotate the camera with the R-analog. The camera perspective does have a major tendency to get hung up in claustrophobic areas but most of the time you can reset the camera by hitting R2.
Each area in the game will have a set amount of enemies that you must take out (you can peep the amount by hitting start) before you are able to progress to the next enemy-filled area. Before particularly daunting areas, you’ll have the option to move Mathayus over a circular light emission on the ground and save the game. The difficulty level in Rise of the Akkadian is very random, meaning you might be able to mash buttons in order to kick butt for a few stages and then have to deal with a boss or hordes of enemies that are irregularly tough, so it’s a good idea to save whenever possible.
Graphically, The Scorpion King: RotA isn’t very impressive but the various personalities, and especially Mathayus, are adequately detailed and proportionate. The various atmospheres get the job done but tend to look repetitive and uninspired. The music is pretty cool for the first ten minutes but then becomes annoying due to the fact that it endlessly loops until you finish the level. Sound effects, like the rest of the package, are nothing to brag about but are varied enough to fly under the radar. The only cool aspect about SK’s aural presentation is the fact that The Rock himself leant his voice talents to the game.
Basically, what we got here is another case of a movie-to-game conversion gone awry. The combat, while sundry, is repetitive and suffers from clumsy mechanics. The experience system, which has you chasing elusive red jewels and other icons in order to improve your capabilities, is re-hashed and poorly executed. I don’t know, small children might get a kick out of this one thanks to its straight-forward progression structure but for seasoned gamers, there really isn’t much here to get your rocks off on, so to speak.