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Developer:
Stormfront
Publisher: Vivendi Games
Platform: Xbox 360, Xbox, PC, PS2
Release Date: November 14, 2006

by Jason Ferguson




As a fan of the Eragon novel, I was really excited about both the Eragon movie and game. After seeing the movie I was disappointed, and after playing the game, Iím even more disappointed.


Eragon follows the adventures of a young boy named Eragon. After coming across a dragon egg, Eragon discovers that he is a dragon rider. With his newfound power, Eragon seeks to save the empire from the evil Emperor that is destroying it. Fans familiar with the book or the movie will have a fairly good idea of whatís going on in the Eragon game. Unfortunately, the story jumps around so much that itís ridiculous. It never really explains at all whatís going on, and leaves a lot of the best parts out. I donít want to give away too many details for those who havenít read the book or seen the movie. If you havenít, then I suggest you read the book. On the positive side, the gameís story is so mediocre that it wonít really spoil the book for you at all.


The basic gameplay in Eragon is similar to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, also developed by Stormfront Studios. Youíll hack and slash your way through hordes of enemies and use combos to make everything a bit easier. Youíre also equipped with a handy bow and arrow and powerful magic spells. Along your journey, youíll always be accompanied by a second character, who can be controlled by a friend in co-op.


Combat is pretty straightforward: you can block and evade, use strong and weak attack, do combos, use a bow, and use magic. Heavy attacks are strong and slow, and performed with the B button. A quick attack is weaker and faster, and performed with A. By pressing different combos of those two buttons, you can perform powerful combo moves. While many of the combos seem worthless, they do have some pretty cool animations. Eragonís magic will come in useful during battles, and can even be used to solve many puzzles.


At key points in the game, Eragon can summon Saphira to aide him in battle. You canít really control her or anything, but she will slaughter enemies for you or clear a path when you need it. While I did appreciate the fact that the game included Saphira in the gameplay, it seemed mostly pointless because she did little more than fly in momentarily during specific points of the game. Occasionally, youíll be able to ride atop Saphira, which I found much more enjoyable than the rest of the game. In this mode, the second player can control Saphira and her attacks, and the first player controls Eragonís magic. In these levels you will have to defend buildings, destroy enemies, and dodge obstacles.


You can use magic in many points of the game. For the most part, magic is largely used to solve puzzles. However, you can also use it to battle enemies. There are four main magic spells in Eragon. First off is Eragonís telekinetic ability, which allows him to move objects. Second are his magic arrows, which channel a devastating magic blast through your arrows. Third is your fire attack, which ignites enemies in flames. Last is your shield magic, which will prevent damage to you. Your magic abilities are limited by your magic gauge, which refills fairly quickly, but also is depleted easily when you constantly cast spells.


You also have a bow and arrow, which can be charged up for a stronger attack. As a said earlier, you can even channel magic through your bow for a very powerful blow. The bow is a bit silly and takes no real skill to fire or aim. I probably killed more enemies with the bow than anything else because a charged attack will kill all but the strongest enemies in a single hit. Still, filling your enemies with arrows is amusing.


Eragon and his allies are equipped with the ability to do a fury attack, which restores their HP and temporarily increases their attack. You can go into fury mode whenever your fury meter is full. You refill your fury meter by killing enemies, so stay active and kill lots of baddies.


As you get deeper into the game, Eragon and Saphira will increase in strength. For example, after completing a specific level, Eragon will gain a more powerful sword or gain Dragon Rider Armor for increased defense. You never really learn any abilities and thereís no customization at all to your characters. Instead you simply grow progressively stronger as you complete the game. Perhaps worst of all is the fact that, if you decide to replay previous levels, your newfound weapons and magic abilities cannot be used. A deeper system would have been greatly appreciated.


A fair amount of the game involves stealth, which is flawed because the enemies are so stupid that you donít really have to use stealth at all. As long as you donít walk right in front of them, youíre fine. And even if you DO walk right in front of them, thereís no real penalty for being seen aside from having to kill a few bad guys before you proceed.


Overall, gameplay in Eragon is quite varied, which helps keep things at least somewhat exciting. Youíll ride atop Saphira, battle enemies while using combos, solve puzzles with magic, and use ďstealthĒ to evade enemies. While the quality of each of these ranges from okay to awful, itís still nice to have a bit of variety.


The AI in Eragon is pretty much awful. The enemies are stupid enough that they wonít see you unless you pretty much walk up to them and tap them on the shoulder. Even your AI allies are morons. There were at least a few times I had to connect a second controller just so I could move my allies out of the way. They were constantly getting stuck on objects or blocking my path. The co-op option is a great choice. Not only is it always more fun to play with a friend, but that way your allies wonít be total idiots. Your AI counterpart is best used as a distraction.


Levels in Eragon are extremely linear and the game allows for very little exploration. The only items you will ever need to search for are the hidden eggs that unlock extra content. Otherwise, there are no special weapons to seek out or hidden treasures. Youíll occasionally come across orbs that replenish your health or fill your Fury meter, but thatís the extent of the items in Eragon. The only reason to go back through is if you really want to find the hidden eggs, or you want to get the extra gamer points by completing the game on normal and difficult modes. Each level is also extremely restrictive with hordes of invisible walls trapping your character inside a small path. Unfortunately, it also seems like the game walks you through the experience a bit too much. Gamers are never really given the opportunity to think for themselves or use any sort of strategy because the game always tells you exactly what to do.


During each level, youíll come across checkpoints that will save your progress. While this is a nice feature that helps you from having to replay a lot of the more difficult areas of the game, it can also become annoying. The game really doesnít give you much opportunity to explore, and once you hit a check point, there is often no turning back. Missed one of the hidden eggs? Too bad, you just hit a check point and now canít turn around and go back. As I already mentioned, levels are linear and donít allow for much exploration. The fact that checkpoints often hinder your ability to backtrack or follow alternate routes only further decreases opportunity to explore.


The gameís character animations are good, and the characters are well designed. Each character is a good resemblance to their film counterpart, so if you like the look of the movie, youíll like the look of the game. However, the enemy designs are very repetitive and youíll end up fighting just a handful of different enemies throughout the entire adventure. The environments are decent looking, but theyíre so closed off that you canít really get a look at anything. Probably most annoying of all is the atrocious camera. It canít be controlled at all, which will cause many problems during the game. Youíll often miss a treasure chest or secret path due to the unfriendliness of the camera, or struggle to see where an enemy is shooting you from. Cinematics in the game are ugly, with silly-looking characters and often uninteresting events. Donít expect to see any clips straight from the movie. While the graphics in Eragon arenít awful, they arenít good either, and certainly donít live up to the capabilities of the Xbox 360. Iíd definitely suggest going with the Xbox or PS2 version of the game if you really want to play it. As far as the sound goes, Eragon is okay. The music is fairly subtle, but fits the fantasy theme of the game. The voice acting is solid, but hindered by very poor dialogue. Most of what you will hear during your journey are standard grunts and groans from enemies and clashing of swords. Not exactly a feast for the ears.


For the hardcore Xbox 360 gamers, itís worth noting that the achievements for the game are all relatively lame. If youíre playing it on another system, then that probably doesnít really concern you. Iíd also like to note that the console versions of the game are all identical, so aside from some slight differences with graphics or load times, this review can pretty much go for any of the other versions. The GBA version, however, is totally different and provides a solid RPG experience.


Eragon isnít an awful game, but itís not worth your hard-earned cash, either. Itís a decent rental to play over a weekend with a friend, but otherwise youíd probably be better off avoiding this one. If youíre dying to play a game like this, then EAís Lord of the Rings games are very similar and far superior. And if youíre a die hard Eragon fan, then go with the GBA version instead and youíll be a lot happier.


Final Grade: 55%


Related Reviews:

Eragon GBA Review
Eragon DS Review




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