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Battle Of Giants: Dinosaurs Strike

Score: 60%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Fighting

Graphics & Sound:

As bad a game as Battle of Giants: Dinosaurs Strike is, I could totally see my eight-year-old self really digging it. Of course, when I was eight, I also thought food didn't get much better than McDonalds, but still... there's some really cool stuff going on with Dinosaurs Strike.

Unless archeologists suddenly discover that all dinosaurs were the same size and had star and flame patterns on their bodies, don't expect any sort of realism in Dinosaurs Strike's presentation. This is, believe it or not, a good thing and one of the few areas the game really shines. At the start of the game, you can customize the look of any of the game's dinosaurs. If you want a pink and blue star-patterned T. Rex, well, by all means create one.

Once you're over the novelty of painting a raptor to look like a hot rod, the game's issues start to jump out at you. Animation is incredibly stilted, causing dinosaurs to move like something out of Ellen's Energy Adventure at Disney World rather than something out of Jurassic Park. On the plus side, some moves look neat, but are usually masked by gratuitous flashes and sparkles (yes, sparkles), so you may not notice them.

As far as arenas go, there's the plateau surrounded by trees and mountains, the plateau surrounded by a dinosaur graveyard, the plateau surrounded by waterfalls... are you starting to sense a pattern here? For what they are, the backgrounds look great, but even with slight variations in backgrounds, they all look the same.

The only audio highlight worth mentioning are the dinosaur roars, and only because dinosaurs sound cool (there's my eight-year-old self talking again). The rest of the soundtrack is made up of bland music and a boring announcer.


Gameplay:

Battle of Giants: Dinosaurs Strike is, again, something I could really see a younger version of myself - or really any boy - getting into. The working concept is fantastic; play as a dinosaur and beat the snot out of other dinosaurs. Even the useless premise of all the dinosaurs fighting each other on the eve of the eventual Dinosaur Apocalypse sounds really cool to a little kid. Unfortunately, the idea is saddled with a really clunky button-mashing fighter that isn't likely to hold anyone's interest for more than a weekend at best.

Most of the game is built around Domination, a tournament mode where you choose a dinosaur and fight nine other dinosaurs. Initially, you can choose from about a dozen prehistoric beasts, including two types of raptor, multiple versions of the stegosaurus and the T. Rex. Even the "probably never existed" triceratops makes an appearance. Additional dinosaurs are available either via codes or by playing through Domination.

There's also Versus and Tournament Modes where you and up to three other players can go head-to-head with your created dinosaurs. Versus games support both single-dinosaur and tag team bouts. Like everything else, dinosaur tag teams sound awesome, but the fighting engine gets in the way of any real fun. The same goes for the 16-player tournament.


Difficulty:

Domination is incredibly easy until you reach the top tier dinosaurs, then it quickly goes from 0 to frustrating.

Battle of Giants: Dinosaurs Strike is a button-masher at heart, and would probably be better off if it just accepted that mantle and built its fighting engine around it. Instead, it harbors visions of being a finesse-styled fighter, which is where most of the issues tend to crop up. Some moves have a noticeable bit of lag associated with them. As far as I can tell, the idea is to charge moves and attack when the opportunity presents itself, but it's impossible to get a sense of rhythm.

Eventually, you'll resign yourself to pulling off the same simplistic combos. At this point, the game decides to up the difficulty. The final four dinosaurs are next to impossible. Even if you invest in Health and Power boosts, the final dinosaurs will smack you around. It was enough to frustrate me after about an hour, so I'd hate to see how younger players might react.


Game Mechanics:

The other cool aspect behind Battle of Giants: Dinosaurs Strike are the upgrades. Between matches, you're awarded one point to put towards a Damage, Health or Dino Strike boost. Each upgrade further upgrades your dinosaur's appearance, either adding boney plates or spikes to them. Even if you went with the pink and blue paint job, your dinosaur will look rather imposing once it's fully evolved. By the end of the game, you'll unlock every upgrade, but at least there's some bit of strategy in figuring out when to purchase certain upgrades.

Although common logic says go for Damage and Health first, it is probably a better idea to get all three Dino Strike upgrades as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you're asking for a harder fight later in the game since beating the final four requires near-perfect use of the mechanic.

The real purpose behind pounding away at combos is to fill the Dino Strike gauge. Dino Strikes are the only real "motion-controlled" instances in the game, and they're not that impressive. Once you initiate a Dino Strike, you're required to shake the Wii-mote and Nunchuk in time with on-screen prompts. Accuracy equals more power, and you'll need all you can get when facing the "boss" dinosaurs.

Battle of Giants: Dinosaurs Strike is a cool premise, and that's about it. As much as I want to say the game is a great pick-up for kids who love dinosaurs and aren't interested in learning complex move sequences, the sudden shift from easy to really, really hard is going to ruin their fun.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Microsoft Xbox 360 Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom Microsoft Xbox 360 Adrenalin Misfits

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated