Eragon PS2 Review
Recently there have a few interesting, and dare I say borderline playable movie to game tie-ins, but unfortunately Eragon feels like a big step back in the wrong direction. It is a game basically made to promote the movie – on top of that it also feels like a very rushed work, offers little to no incentive to play, and all in all is just not very entertaining. The last few lines are no doubt a very harsh intro for a review, but that is honestly how I feel about the game. It is all made even worse when you realise that the developers of Eragon – Stormfront – were responsible for that great Lord of the Rings game a few years ago… so what in the blue hell went wrong between then and now?
For those not keeping up to date on all things in the entertainment world Eragon is a game based on the recent movie that is in turn based upon the book of the same name, by Christopher Paolini. The basic plot centers around a boy called Eragon (why would his parents do that to him? Really!). He finds a dragon egg and – as you would guess – it hatches and he now has a dragon of his very own. Then some form of terrible death befalls a selection of people and – as you would guess, yet again! – Eragon wants revenge. Thus you now have a great plot for a book, movie and now video game!
For most of the game you control the main protagonist Eragon from a third person perspective – you start out relatively weak with only a sword and bow to defend yourself. As you advance you quickly learn to use magic which can be used to take the hordes of enemies slightly easier than melee attacks. You can also combine all three different attacks to string together some combos with quick strikes, powerful strikes, and blocks mapped out to the PS2 controller. The controls are in no way complicated and neither is the way you have to take down the enemies. In fact most enemies are very easy to take down and seem to lack the most basic of AI to put up a decent fight. To make up for this most foes’ can take a fair few knocks before finally staying down for good. When not fighting the game gives you a few simplistic platforming sections to hop, skip and jump around to make your way to the next area where you fight even more bad guys. Once you rinse and repeat the above a few dozen times over the course of around six hours you finish the game. On the whole the control is very reminiscent of the great Lego Star Wars games, but the big difference is all the fun of those games seems to be stripped away and as a result it seems very evident that you’re just button bashing to move on to the next level.
For some levels – to mix things up a bit – the game tries to rip-off the Panzer Dragoon series – you should by now expect any game with a dragon at the center of its plot to do that! – but once again the idea seems like a second-rate tacked on effort. Most of the flying levels in the game offer some simple menial tasks for you to accomplish, but there are two big problems standing in your way. Firstly some tasks can be so blooming simple that you just give up out of boredom before finishing or secondly – for some of the harder tasks – your dragon gets too hard to control and you end up dying repeatedly or spending half of your playtime introducing your dragons face to a nearby wall.
You probably should have guessed that the game is not a whole load of fun to play by now, but wait there’s more! Next up for me to shoot down is the game’s atrocious camera. Now I have seen some bad cameras over the year, but most of them could be fiddled with enough to garner some respectable results. Eragon‘s camera on the other hand could not be saved if the life of video gaming as we know it depended on it. The camera in the game is always located in a fixed position (AKA old Resident Evil style). Now this could work if the environment was built to suit the game’s camera and good positions were chosen for the camera to be fixed in. Sadly nether of my wishes have come true. I honestly lost count of the times I had to fight blind because the camera chose to position itself behind an object and I was left to just button bash and hope for the best – even worse is that sometimes the game gives you no idea of where to go next as the door/ledge/way-out seem to be positioned off-screen leaving you to just stumble about until luck is on your side and you finally get out. Sometimes I actually felt I had spent longer in some rooms than Dae-su did in Oldboy – thankfully I did not resort to any form of violence (I was close though!).
Graphically things are not much better as most of the game looks very low poly with drab unexciting locals out in force. Another problem is that the levels don’t really seem to change much as you advance with the same boring uninspired characters and dull drab colors recurring continually through the game’s disappointing selection of settings. Animation is also very basic with jarring movements of every character highly visible around every turn. In terms of audio things don’t get much better. The voice work is the epitome of unpleasantness with every line being as grating and raucous as the one before. The actors that performed don’t seem to have cared about the end result and honestly don’t seem to have read up on the plot before they recorded their lines. Sound effects consist of nothing but a few thumps, clanks and clangs so you really get no satisfaction when you finish off any of the enemies. Then there is the music… I guess you could class it as okay, but all things considered it is just the best of a bad bunch of features.
There was one small light at the end of this dark damp tunnel of indifference as the game offers a co-op option to let you play through the game with a friend. As with most co-op games you can make the game fun by just messing around and having a laugh amongst yourselves as you advance through the levels, but it really does start to feel like a chore rather than any form of fun very quickly. All in all there are better games available to serve your co-op needs.
So to sum things up incase you have not already realised after reading the previous 1000 words – Eragon is not a very good game. It offers no fresh ideas of it own and almost every aspect of the game seems to have been recycled – albeit very badly – from a selection of similar games released over the past few years. All in all while playing Eragon you get the feeling that you’ve done it all before… so please save your money for something else or just dip into the PS2’s vast back catalog for something much, much better in the same genre. Stormfront’s 2002 effort The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers would be a nice place to start to see the developer in top form.
Better than the movie; but that was a stinker too… just read the book or maybe just abandon the whole blooming franchise.