Hercules: Curse of the Hydra is a veritable Greek tragedy.

It's sad to see the hero of the Hellenistic world reduced to a klutzy meat head, awkward to control and unpleasant to look at.

This rudimentary game's attempts at grandiose action falls faster than Icarus and his burning wings - deficient controls, outdated graphics, thoroughly aggravating level design, and an assortment of technical issues combine to make a failure of mythic proportions.

Jump off a cliff

Clearly incomplete, Hercules: Curse of the Hydra never develops what is a good core concept into a playable game. Although highly derivative, its God of War-style action and platforming holds a promise that never materialises due to poor design. Copycat games can be enjoyable, but this is nothing short of a mess.

The primary problem is the clunky controls, which make traipsing through the 16-level Story mode a frustrating chore.

You never feel as though you have decent command over Hercules's movement, especially when it comes to jumping. Hopping across a series of small platforms is tough when you don't feel as if you have adequate control.

Bad level design only heightens frustration. It's far too easy to die by falling off a cliff because there's no safety measure on the edges (why not have Hercules grab a ledge if you accidentally fall, giving you a chance to recover?), water is an instant death (Hercules's muscle mass obviously causes him to immediately sink and drown), and inadequate camera controls prevent you from seeing up a wall when you're climbing, often leading to death when you can't see an enemy directly above.

Untrained

Combat isn't any better. Attacks are inflexible and the targeting system is lacking. When using the bow against an enemy situated on a hill, for instance, you shoot arrows straight into the hill: the game isn't smart enough to adjust the trajectory at an angle up toward the enemy. Worse still, it's a crap shoot trying to nail airborne enemies.

Even if the targeting system is fixed, the action is uninspired, the boss battles underwhelming, and the special stages a drag. One early action stage has you shooting at harpies while flying through the skies on the back of the winged horse Pegasus - the accelerometer controls are horrible and targeting the harpies is incredibly difficult.

As if it wasn't bad enough, Hercules: Curse of the Hydra is ugly. The occasional crash and long loading times test your patience, too. It's an unintended odyssey that any self-respecting gamer ought to avoid.