STAFF REVIEW of Eragon (Xbox 360)

Thursday, December 14, 2006.
by Tony Ingrassia

Eragon Box art The book Eragon from author Christopher Paolini that inspired the movie, which opens in theatres today, also inspired the action adventure game now available on the Xbox 360. Take the roll of Eragon, a simple farm boy, who?s destiny as a Dragon Rider and discovery of a dragon egg begin his adventure. Once hatched, Saphira the dragon and Eragons destinies are united. Movie based games seem to be as common as breakfast cereal these days, the problem being that they sometimes leave a lot to be desired. Developers and studios alike hoping to cash in on the popularity of a franchise also sometimes leave the creative juices needed to deliver a quality game at the door.

Eragon, which I can?t wait to see, has the makings of a good game. All the ingredients are there for the taking, action, sword play, magic, adventure, and even a dragon at your fingertips. There are 3 main characters in the game, Eragon of course, Brom, and Saphira which work together in an interesting control scheme. You play as Eragon through most of the early levels with Brom as your constant sidekick, he follows and lends a hand with not only the enemies you encounter but also helps guide and train Eragon as he progresses with helpful hints and direction. Bows and swords are the standard weapons for your heroes but as Eragon ?Learns? his craft as a Dragon Rider from Brom he is able to cast magical forces of energy and manipulation to aid in the quests at hand.

Our third character is Saphira the dragon, she communicates with Eragon through his thoughts. In early stages Eragon can summon her to help get through barricades or even dispose of an evil enemy. The game does offer up some dragon flight levels where you actually take control of Saphira, including breathing fire and a speed burst to evade enemies. Even though Saphira is relegated to cameo appearances in the early going the dragon flight levels are a nice touch. So there you have your band of adventurers, now lets see how the stay alive and combat the evil forces.

Eragons game play will be very familiar to many gamers, levels are designed for completion, and a point system for enemy?s vanquished, and hidden secrets to round off your ?Grade? for the level. Obviously levels are replayable to obtain missed hidden objects and raising your score for the level. The path is a bit linear, and littered with obstacles forcing you to do a little searching for the pathway through, making the game a bit too scripted for my liking. Your health is maintained by ?Health? orbs which can be found in crates and boxes throughout the levels and are released by fallen enemies. Magic Energy is another weapon at Eragons disposal, much like his Health, Orbs will increase his energy meter. A third attack involves both Eragon and Brom, the Fury Meter, this builds up as power orbs are absorbed and once ?Connected? Eragon can use the Fury Attack.

The level design and objectives very from simple ?Fight your way through? scenarios to protecting villagers as they try to extinguish the fires set to their village. As I mentioned earlier there will be times when you will need to summon Saphira to open up large blocked passages, but what good is a dragon if she can?t take care of a few minor speed bumps. The battle system itself is again very familiar, combat combos deliver everything from basic attacks, to ?Special? moves, which the camera slows down and zooms in for. Visually the game is above par, not fantastic, but acceptable. The areas are very detailed and vibrant, some nice lighting effects set the mood at times, and the ?look? of a vast world is pulled off quite well. The audio department is, again, above par. The soundtrack is perfectly written to match the adventure and phantasy mood this game is set in, and sound effects are well balanced and accurately matched to the action at hand. The voice acting is fine, although the cast of the movie is not reprising its roles for the video game.

As an adventure game Eragon doesn?t really break any new ground, but is an entertaining experience. It?s well balanced and offers just enough diversity to the levels to keep it interesting. The inclusion of Dragon Flight levels were a must in my opinion and are one of the best parts of the game. The addition of a co-op mode were a second player can control Brom should extend the self life of this title. The Xbox 360 version of the game also includes an exclusive Kull boss battle and two additional levels to the game. I think fans of phantasy adventure games like Lord of the Rings will enjoy Eragon, again, its nothing over the top, but a fun play. My only true problem with the game, as is with most games of this type, is the linear game play.

My suggestion is a bit repetitive, I seem to find myself repeating the same thing or most games based on movies. Expand the world a bit, and find a new wrinkle in the development or strength and talents of your characters.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.6 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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