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Eragon Review

publisher: Vivendi Games
developer: Stormfront Studios
genre: Action Adventure

PIV 1400, 512MB RAM, 4GB HDD, 128MB RAM
ESRB rating: T

release date: Nov 14, 06
» All About Eragon on ActionTrip

The tale of Eragon, the dragon rider, is a tantalizing one (or so they tell me). Of course, being a person who plays video games all day long and is addicted to the Internet, I never really got a chance to read it. People who do read though tell me that it's pretty good. Now, pardon my blatant superficiality here, but I find that hard to believe. Namely because Eragon is not Frodo.

Speaking of Frodo, regardless of whether you are familiar with the Eragon world or not, drawing a bunch of parallels between Christopher Paolini's novel, which is the first volume of the Inheritance Trilogy, the subsequent movie tie-in directed by Stefen Fangmeier (a distant relative to a person whom Peter Jackson never met), and now a VU Games-published video game, is quite simply unavoidable. I tried, and I failed.

While the fantasy world of Eragon, a boy whose life changes when a mysterious dragon egg lands in his lap, is in no way directly reminiscent of the Rings story, the world itself will be quite familiar to fantasy fans, but more importantly, a direct connection between how New Line Cinema and EA handled the whole onslaught of LotR products is exactly how 20th Century Fox and VU Games are doing it.

You will surely recall Electronic Art's LotR multiplatform video game movie tie-ins The Two Towers and The Return of the King. These were button-mashing combat games with a touch of some RPG, in which you'd lead your favorite characters through familiar settings depicted in their silver screen counterparts.

This is exactly how Eragon the game plays. It takes the same approach as the aforementioned EA games, by having you lead Eragon through locales which will be shown in the upcoming Hollywood flick, hitting the theatres on December 15th.

Now in regards to the game itself, it really is a mixed bag of blessings. On the whole though, I would say that it is better than I initially expected.

What Eragon does right is create a very fluid and often satisfyingly complex combat system, which will keep you on your toes as you race through the linear levels. The animation is very nicely done and the combination of magic, ranged and melee fighting is very well implemented. People who own both a PC and a 360 will be able to use their lovely white wireless controllers to play Eragon on the PC. For the sake of this review, I opted to use the keyboard instead, and I'm happy to say I do not regret that decision.

Yes, the levels are horribly constrictive and linear, but this is what you'd expect from a fighting game, so no real complaints there. Sadly, the boss fights were too far and in between, but what was there was pretty decent. The difficulty of the levels varied quite a bit across the board. Interestingly, I had more problems in some early levels than I did later on in the game. This could be due to the fact that as you progress, Eragon will gain new skills and magic spells, which will help him deal away with the king's men in a more efficient manner. Throughout the main campaign though, both my fingers and my weary sleep-deprived eyes were focused on the fights, which is a good enough testament to the design of the core combat mechanics.

In regards to that, the AI was very mediocre, but also, quite adequate for the type of gameplay Eragon offers.

What I didn't like about the game, interestingly, was the rather flimsy story presentation. While the voice acting is passable, the development of the story via the cut-scenes was very underwhelming and was severely lacking in scope. It simply didn't feel epic enough.

In addition, Eragon is dressed like a level 1 character throughout most of the campaign. While I can understand that consistency with the movie the book(s) was necessary, I still don't see how your average RPG gamer will find this appealing.

To top it off, the visuals, though often quite catchy, lacked more vibrancy and the sort of artistic diversity you'd find in other, better crafted game worlds.

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7.9   Good

Excellently designed combat, animation, dragon rides;

Short, low replay value, poor story presentation, world lacks more vibrancy and visual diversity, camera gets funky upon entering an indoor area.


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