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Joseph Rositano
06 Dec, 2006

Eragon Review

PS2 Review | It's a bird... It's a plane... No, it's a dragon!
Dragons seem to be a hot topic this year. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was release on DVD, Spyro had a new beginning and the hugely popular book, Eragon, was turned into a movie which is due to hit cinemas on December 14th. As with any major movie release, it came as no surprise a game would be released to cash in on the fame of the book and film.

Eragon is about a young farm boy who one day discovers a blue dragon egg in the forest. After it hatches, Eragon quickly grows a fondness for the dragon and names her Saphira after her sapphire-coloured eyes and soon becomes a Dragon Rider. He sets off against the evil king’s armies in hopes of restoring peace to the land of Alagaesia.

Let’s start with the better features of the game. It does a pretty decent job of retelling the story through voice-overs introducing you to the levels (although it will help if you’ve seen the movie or read the book beforehand). Hidden in each level is a blue egg that unlocks interviews and documentaries about the making of the game and by collecting all of them, you can unlock extra content. Also, you can play co-op with a friend by having them press the start button at anytime during gameplay. However, the player who plays as Brom or Maurtagh won’t have magic abilities but can still fire a bow and attack with a sword. If you don’t have a human player to play with, your partner will be controlled by the CPU.

So this is what Dancing with the Stars has been reduced to.

So this is what Dancing with the Stars has been reduced to.
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Moving onto the less impressive features, the game feels completely “on the rails” and tries to hide this fact by incorporating small puzzles which involve the use of Eragon’s magic abilities to create a path. While this does work in other games, it doesn’t work in Eragon simply because when you come across a puzzle, a blue icon appears telling you to use your magic. If it isn’t magic that is needed for you to continue, it will most likely be a ledge you’ll have to grab hold of and climb across, which is usually in plain. There are also a few instances when buildings are on fire and you have to rescue the villagers trapped inside. Simply slash away at the barrels of water nearby, the villagers will be rescued and you’ll have to enter the building to continue down your path once more.

The combat system has a few design issues. To take out foes quickly, usually a combo will do the trick but after performing the combo, the camera zooms in on you delivering the final blow and usually these moments slow down the action, particularly when fighting wave after wave of enemies. Eventually, the final blows even become repetitive and will cause you to switch to the mindless slashing method, or result to using your bows. One thing that stroked us was the fact enemies seem to be immune to pain either stagger for a fraction of a second, or simply continuing like nothing happened. Bows are by far the most effective way of killing your enemies. By highlighting which enemy you want to strike at, you can hold down the X button on the PlayStation 2 controller to focus your aim and shoot directly at their head making for a clean kill. Obviously though, the distance between you and your enemy will determine how long you have to aim. If you’re swarmed with enemies, you can also use magic to create a powerful blast with your bow knocking them all back. Magic can also be used as a secondary weapon allowing you to either push away or pull enemies towards you as well as set them on fire. At times, you’ll even be able to call Saphira for backup and use your magic to throw spears at enemies.

When you destroy enemies and chests that are scattered throughout levels, both you and your partner will be given orbs which will add length to a bar in the centre of you and your partner’s status. Once filled, upon your command, the bar can be used to give your sword attacks a boost in power, restore your health and give you unlimited magic. The powering up only lasts for a certain period of time though based on the length of the bar. Once it disappears entirely, it stops.

It was all good fun until she sneezed.

It was all good fun until she sneezed.
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Levels include foggy mountains which hide a robust amount of Urgals, evil troll-like creatures who live in caves and Galbatorix’s castle, both the security paths around his fortress and inside of it. A few villages and small valleys will also be the set for fights against the king’s soldiers. Each level was designed from actual sets of the film bringing fans one step closer to living the adventure.

For those that have read the book, you may be wondering if there are any levels where you fly Saphira. The answer is yes but sadly, once again they follow the “on the rails” style and aren’t exactly anything special. Saphira can breathe fire and use her tail to strike foes while Eragon can fire arrows to take out nearby foes with better accuracy. Should Saphira get damaged, occasionally doves will fly overhead and by eating them, Saphira will regain her health. Also, Eragon will have unlimited magic while riding Saphira as opposed to waiting for it to recharge after using it on enemies and items while on foot. However, his magic is only used to power his bows when in flight, so there won’t be any fire blasts or pushing from him directly.

There are some nice lighting and fog effects used in the game’s environments, particularly in the mountain tops and forests but that doesn’t make up for the lack of visual appeal overall. It seems the developers seemed to have forgotten to make the details smooth, instead looking rough and overly sharp. The levels also have the tendency to be a little too dark at times making it hard for you to see ledges to grab onto. The camera is fixed for the duration of the game and becomes a nuisance when fighting enemies. For instance, your bow will actually aim at an enemy that is off screen but if you don’t have it selected, you can be running near the edge of the screen and suddenly be faced with a swarm of enemies. Or worse, you could be happily walking through a bridge and enemies start firing arrows at you. Fortunately, your arrow has an instant lock on enemies allows you to make quick work of them, whether their on screen or off.

The Dark Side clouds everything.

The Dark Side clouds everything.
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Hollywood’s influence on the game is extremely apparent. Not only does the 20th Century Fox logo appear during the opening credits (the one showing the publisher and developer logos), you’ll also be hearing the voice talent of Edward Speleers, Sienna Guillory, Garrett Hedlund and Robert Carlyle - the cast from the film. The soundtrack is also very epic featuring orchestrated music which is somewhat connected to Lord of the Rings. That being said though, the music is reused frequently and some may tire hearing it, but generally, if you are accustomed to that style, you should be fine with it.

Overall, Eragon will probably disappoint a lot of fans who want to enter the journey the book did a great job of constructing. It’s main problem is definitely its “on the rails” approach towards the gameplay side of things and its combat system is less than perfect. Sadly, it looks like the game was created to cash in on the film and book and nothing more.
The Score
Despite an excellent soundtrack, the game is more than likely to disappoint fans. It doesn’t recreate the journey well. 4
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Eragon Content

Eragon demo available on Xbox Live
03 Nov, 2006 No soup (or Eragon) for you if you're a silver subscriber.
Eragon Preview
25 Sep, 2006 Novel-to-movie-to-game done right?
Eragon demo available on Xbox Live
03 Nov, 2006 No soup (or Eragon) for you if you're a silver subscriber.
1 Comment
7 years ago
sounds crap a bit...the movie and the book seems meh
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Vivendi Universal
Developer:
  Stormfront Studios
Players:
  1-2

Read more...
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