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The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon

Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Etranges Libellules
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

I finally get to play a purple dinosaur game! No, not that purple dinosaur... he stopped loving me. This purple dinosaur has wings and sprays fire all over those who dare defy him. Umm, and then he joins up with the arch nemesis that he has just destroyed, but we will just pretend like they were always friends. I've literally been waiting years to play this game, but I have never had the required platform in which to make the game purr -- PlayStations are not on my top ten awesome devices list. I digress. The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon is the last in the the Legend of Spyro series. Spyro decides to turn the other cheek and is accompanied by his former arch enemy, Cynder, in taking on the Dark Master Malefor.

Graphics are very awesome. Do you know how long I have been waiting to say that? The lighting, shading, and colors were just amazing. I played the Wii version, and I have read that the graphics are jawdropping on the PlayStation. Granted, the Wii cannot pull as much graphic wow out of its insides, but I was still very happy with the pretties that were floating across my screen. Mostly I was awestruck by the lighting! On most of my computer games, I have to turn the shadows and light effects completely down to make my game playable, so I do not get the full effect of the face melting; but The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon fully melted my face with the lighting.

Also, the music was seriously great. I wanted to drag my TV into my bedroom and turn the game on so the music could lull me to sleep. It was orchestral, peaceful, and it made my toes happy. My toes wiggle when they are happy. It is normal.


Gameplay:

The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon was actually pretty fun at first. You play as both Spyro and his sizzling sidekick (hah! Did you like that?) Cynder. You can play with a buddy (one of you controlling either of the dragons) or alone. Either way, both dragons are on screen all the time. Spyro and Cynder both have individual elemental powers under their control (which is a fun idea that takes me back to Quest) and they fly! Apparently, you were not able to freely fly in previous Spyro games, so this was pretty cool... for a while.

Spyro has control over Fire, Electricity, Ice, and Earth; while Cynder controlls Wind, Poison, Fear, and Shadow. Each of the dragons also have different meelee attacks as well. It works better (more damage gets dealt) if you have a second player, but playing alone is fun as well. Just like any other game in which you have a dead character on the screen - dead as in A.I.-controlled - Cynder (or Spyro, depending) can get stuck on things. However, unlike most games, you have to switch to the dead character to get them unstuck. They do not magically poof and show up beside you when they get snagged on a shrubbery.

I hate to say this (but it is what I do), but the actual gameplay is a little meh. The dragons both have weak and strong meelee attacks, and you can upgrade their elemental attacks and armor, but it gets tedious. There are even elites in the game (I totally go straight to World of Warcraft when I say that) that are a pain in my left butt cheek to kill. You aren't sure what element they are weak to - until you've died forty five times trying to shadow them to death when you should be icing them. The really lame part is that killing the ultra-hard suck monsters gives you no bonus experience. Basically, the only reason you go up against them is if you are a sadist.


Difficulty:

The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon is about medium rare in terms of difficulty. The combat gets a tad tedious, and you can finish the game in about ten hours (unless you get lost or decide to take on the elites). Speaking of getting lost... that is all I did throughout the game! Sparx, your Navi of The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon, is about as much help as a blind man in a maze of razors. More difficult than any of the evil, fire-breathing monstrosities that you must slay, is navigating the game. You know, on occasion, I have been know to whine about linear games and how boring, predictable, and fun-sucking they are; but you need some direction in a game to prevent it from getting so convoluted that you feel compelled to look up strategy online.

Little Navi wannabe, Sparx, was pretty useless. At least he didn't pop out every five seconds with "Hey!" For those of you that are wondering what in the monkey a Navi is: she is a very obnoxious fairy in the Legend of Zelda series. There are poems written to her level of annoyingness. Another nail-on-chalkboard aspect of the game that makes it more difficult that is should be, is the camera angle. Camera angles and wandering game designs can kill a game for me faster than meh gameplay. Gameplay can sometimes be overlooked even when boring, but combined with running around in circles for what seems like hours all the while going "Umm, so, where am I?", and camera angles that make you insane... it just loses the game a ton of points.

For some reason, the amount of enemies increases so dramatically toward the end, that it feels like the game designers accidentally doubled the recipe. Again, not much skill needed (button-mashing!), but I was attacked so often that it took me four years to get five feet in the game. I felt like Frodo trying to leave the Shire - you know, how it took the entire first book for that to happen?


Game Mechanics:

Ok, so, games not made by Nintendo that are released for the Wii have been a bit lackluster in using the controls. They either ignore the amazing motion-sensing capabilities, use no imagination for the controls, or make you do very freaking strange motions that snap your wrist. The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon has controls that remind me a bit of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. You block and evade with the Nunchuck by flicking it up, and you psychotically shake the Wii-mote to perform a special attack. The only problem I really had with this was that if I twitched the Nunchuck at all, I would stop attacking (kills the momentum and can really kill you) and start guarding.

Flying is performed by tapping the (A) button like it is going out of style. It is also your jump button. (B) is the standard choice of most designers when it comes to button-mashing goodness. You stab (B) enough and you should be able to fight your way out of the horde of lower level baddies that want to tear your wings off. (Z) and (C) access your elements, and allow you to unleash your fiery (or icy) wrath!

The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon is really gorgeous, and the music is fantastic. The gameplay is suitable for younger players, but I promise those same younger players will flip out when they are killed eight times in a row by an elite. They might also take to shaving the cat when they get bored of wandering around aimlessly for ages while Sparx is making inane comments. The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon doesn't live up to what it could have been, but it is still a halfway decent game for younger players or those obsessed with the series.


-Phate Kills, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Field

Microsoft Xbox 360 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Windows American McGee's Grimm: Master Thief

 
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