The Adventures of Asterix, the much loved series of comic books by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, has spawned several games over the years. This latest offering from Atari, Asterix at the Olympic Games, is based on the live action movie of the same name.
Asterix and Obelix's friend, the young Lovestorix, is keen to win the hand of the beautiful Princess Irina. The only way to do so is by winning the chariot race at the Antique Games. But the evil Brutus stands in his way at every turn, intent on winning Irina for himself and overthrowing his adoptive father, Julius Caesar.
Meanwhile, Sam Schieffer the Gaul - who with his green night-vision goggles resembles a certain Splinter Cell secret agent - has revealed the existence of an inter-dimensional key that could compromise the equilibrium of the universe. All clues to its whereabouts point to Olympia.
Asterix at the Olympic Games is a third person adventure game. Fans of the comics will feel instantly at home in the setting - the game starts with the two heroes hunting for wild boar and, with the help of magic potion, fighting a hapless troop of Romans.
Their village is beautifully recreated and bustling with familiar characters and landmarks. Developer Etranges Libellules has done a wonderful job in realising the iconic comic book world in 3D. Characters look, move and sound just as you would expect, making this the most faithful video game depiction of Goscinny and Uderzo's work to date.
Olympia itself has lots of hidden areas to explore and Roman guards to pound. The combat system is simple and intuitive, and there are plenty of new moves to learn along the way - essential for beating the tougher enemies later on. Fighting Romans is great fun and like everything else in the game, it captures all of the humour of the comics. And it never gets boring thanks to the constant supply of new moves, which are funnier each time.
Variety is the game's greatest strength. Aside from fighting, there are puzzles in which you control Asterix and Obelix independently to use their respective strengths. For example, at one point you must guide Asterix up a hill and into a cable car, then switch control to Obelix and pull the car along from the ground below using a length of rope.
As you progress, Olympic events become available. Some are recognisable, such as long jump and hammer throw, while others are unique to the game, such as Toadball - a high speed variant of volleyball. Each mini-game has its own simple control scheme and you'll need finger speed and timing to win every gold medal.
All events can be played alone or with a friend in Antique Game mode, which is perfect if you just want a quick race or to beat your high scores. You can use most of the game's characters, including Getafix, Lovestorix and even Brutus himself.
Asterix at the Olympic Games, with its even spread of combat, puzzles and sports mini-games has enough to keep everyone happy. Fans of the comic books will appreciate the effort put into recreating Asterix's world, while newcomers will adore the quirky sense of humour and slick presentation.
It's a game with enough magic potion in reserve to hold its own alongside all the great adventure titles on PlayStation 2.