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Eragon

Score: 30%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: VU Games
Developer: Stormfront Studios
Media: CD/4
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

If you have noticed, or have ever put a game in your PC in order to play it, there is a simple logic to how all of the opening information is presented. You have these nice, flashy full-screen animations from the company or companies that worked together to bring you the title. Then, you get to a menu screen and set up how you are going to play the game. Well, with Eragon, you get a nice little surprise that, as a PC player, is almost unheard of and maybe even a little bit unwelcome. But before I get on my soap box, let's take a look at all of the pieces that make up this game.

The graphics are well done and crisp looking. I really liked looking at the game. They created some really powerful visuals in their cut scenes and the characters' moves and ability. I can just say it plainly that the game looked good. The particle effects from the magic and the fire, lots and lots of fire, are well done and realistic enough.

Straight from the sounds of The Lord of the Rings comes the soundtrack for this game. Not having seen the movie yet, I am sure we are treated to the same sweeping movements as its motion picture counterpart. This is fine with me because it is very beautiful and moving work at times. The voice-overs were brought to you by the actors themselves for many of the characters, so there will be good continuity between the game and movie.


Gameplay:

You are Eragon. A farm hand who looks to make a quick buck and sell a dragon's egg, only to discover that by touching the egg, and its hatchling, you is now bound to the fledgling dragon. You learn that your destiny is to rise up against the evil King Galbatorix, who rules the land with an iron fist.

Quest across the land and follow a weak and very untelling story of your destiny to overthrow a king. This game is derived from a book and a full release movie. There are three books. How you can fall short of material and direction is lost on me. What I felt from the game's story overall was that they were afraid of revealing too much. The problem with that is that the books are already out there. People know this story. You are not gaining anything from holding back, besides robbing gameplay from those who pay for this game.

I will get more into control in Game Mechanics below, but as for your ability to move around in the environment, the entire scheme felt very convoluted and not well thought out. Combat has the appearance of being pretty in depth; there are some pretty looking grab and kill moves, but it is just a button-masher. You get weapons and magic, but again, here we fall short with a limited magic arsenal and weak weapons choices.

You did hear me mention a dragon earlier in the game right? Well don't expect to be seeing much of it, as most of the game is played on foot. You have an icon on your HUD that gives you select moments in which you can call her in to swoop down and help, but alas, she is off again to be seen later.


Difficulty:

Everything about the controls makes this a difficult PC game. The game is more designed to be a played-through storyline and less of a difficult, inspiring fighting game. The problem, as mentioned before, is their is very little storyline. More of just go here, do this, yeah. The lessons they provide you with early in the game give you hope that the combat system was going to be pretty extensive. There was little you couldn't just hack and slash your way through.

Game Mechanics:

OK, here we are to talk about controls in Eragon. Here is where the line in the sand was drawn for me. I mentioned above this was where I was going to lay it down for you, so let me just get my handy dandy soap box out..*/Clears throat*. What the hell! When you power up the game, in fact, the first screen of the game is a statement saying that an XBOX 360 controller or other 11 button dual analog stick game pad is "recommended" to play this game. OK, so I own a PC and I am being told that I now require a gamepad to play, nonsense! So I skip past this and think surely they were simply trying to push the integration between PCs and consoles. We have all heard of this day coming. I get into the game and move my mouse to look around, and what the heck, nothing moves. My mouse must have come unplugged. Nope! No mouse support for a PC game. I have seen this before in $5.00 Indie games that you play with one hand. I even remember some games for PC from the 80's like this, but not in the 21st century. Not only are we expected to play with both hands, you can even play with a friend, so four hands on one keyboard. OK, OK, calm down, WUMPUSJAGGER, surely you can change the key commands in the Options menu to make it a little more playable to your style. So in a PC game, I am forced to put in a game pad, and more specifically, an XBOX 360 game pad to play this game. NOT COOL! Now the moral of this story is after a few hours, I ultimately did so I could continue on with more ease. My thoughts lie with PC players who buy the game to be played on a PC with PC controls. If you don't have a 360, you need to now go buy a controller or "game pad" for this game. And, for the final kicker... it says nothing about this on the outside of the box! It only says in fine print, and I mean fine print, at the end of the minimum specs that a "Gamepad: Windows-compatible USB gamepad with eleven buttons and dual analog sticks [is] (Recommended)." So when Grandma goes to buy Timmy a game for Christmas, and one based off a book she knows he loved, he is going to get this game. Sorry Timmy, hope you have a 360 too so you can use the controller.

/Steps down off of soap box... OK. With that said, here it is in my book. The game is visually great to look at with some good music and voice overs. And, that is where it stops. The story is brief and near nonexistent. The controls and gameplay are weak, and I just didn't enjoy being forced to conform. Who does?


-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:



Operating system: Windows® 2000/XP (Windows x64 NOT supported) DirectX: 9.0c, or higher, CPU: 1.4 GHz Intel® Pentium® 4 or equivalent AMD® Athlon™ or faster processor, RAM: 512 MB RAM or more, Hard drive: 270 MB of free drive space, or more, Optical drive: CD-ROM, Video card: NVIDIA® GeForce®, ATI® Radeon®, or equivalent DirectX® 9.0c-compliant, 128 MB 3D video card with Hardware Transform and Lighting capability and pixel shader support, Audio card: DirectX 9-compatible audio card, Mouse: Windows compatible mouse, Keyboard: Windows compatible keyboard, Gamepad: Windows-compatible USB gamepad with eleven buttons and dual analog sticks (Recommended)
 

Test System:



Windows XP Pro, 3.2 GHz P4HT CPU, 2 GB Ram, 512 PCIE 16 ATI X1600XT

Nintendo DS Eragon Nintendo DS Tom and Jerry Tales

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated