Spyro – Dawn of the Dragon Review

August 11, 2009 at 2:17 am | Posted in Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews | Leave a comment
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Link to review

Spyro’s last adventure is one he wont be remembered for…

If like me you’ve not played a Spyro game since your PSX/PS2 years then Spyro Dawn of the Dragon may come as a bit of a shock to. If you’ve been playing Spyro non stop however…you’ll be pretty shocked too.

First let’s take a quick history lesson. What a lot of people aren’t aware of, is that after the 5th Spyro installment ‘A Hero’s Tail’ that series was ditched and a ‘trilogy’ was born, Dawn of the Dragon is the final installment in this trilogy.

Unfortunately change isn’t always good, and change is what Spyro has been doing ever since Insomniac Games handed their cute little purple IP over to strangers after the 3 Spyro, whilst the game still did well, each new game has been shifted over and handed down to new developers and publishers and unfortunately, they put it in Sierras hands…

Many of you may or thankfully may not remember Sierra’s ‘Eragon’ game, the game which took gameplay from such games as the Lord of The Rings combat games and stuck into a film with dragons and endless drones of fighting with no real incentive to continue or get better. Sadly, Spyro has taken this route now.

/end history lesson.

The story starts with Spyro and if you’ve been following the trilogy, another purple but female dragon Cynder, frozen in a rock. Some creatures awaken them both and then bind the two with a snake like neck brace which prevents either dragons from getting to far from each other, were then saved by a Cheetah named Hunter and after that, following the story became a little difficult…

It’s no Silent Hill cracker with twists and deep back plots and hidden meanings it’s more just a little bit on the dry side. I was more shocked at why the character Hunter (from who I knew from Spyro 2 as a Cheetah who talked like a stoned skater all the time) was now some rather clichéd Robin Hood style character complete with bow and arrow. Either way, I was to find help from the elder dragons and defeat another dragon that turned rogue.

Spyro himself has grown up a lot which needless to say doesn’t mean the original gameplay had to change with him. What made Spyro as accessible and fun to play all those years ago has been lost with this trilogy mainly to allow for the consoles it came to, including the Wii.

Now, rather than just running about like a loon, collecting Gems and helping characters in different and vast worlds, we see a more combat based linear path following game, a pretty Point A to B level structure with the occasional awkward puzzle to complete and a few hundred painful fights to take place.

What’s most painful to play as before mentioned is the combat, whatever happened to flaming someone and then running full speed at them? Now, we have quick attacks, strong attacks, grabs, blocks, combos and a mana gauge to keep your flame in check.

Even with Cynder as a playable character to switch to, combat still just doesn’t suit what Spyro can be, when about 10 enemies pop out of the ground, with all the stuff going on in one area you just cant see what’s going on. With attacks coming in from every angle and the unforgiving fixed camera ensuring all your enemies are in front of your camera blocking your view, combat becomes a giant ball of strike marks, flames and enemies at best.

Collecting gems now is a lot more hassle now, as rather than just laying around the level to pick up, there are now giant Crystals which must be destroyed in order to collect the Gems. Red gems now only provide health, green gems mana for your breath attack and blue for exp. Exp is now used to upgrade your breath attacks, as now Spyro can shoot flames, water, and electricity and ‘ground’ elements. Cynder comes with 4 of her own breath attacks however Poison is the only effective one. The rest are usually only ever needed to fix puzzles.

The games puzzles, for a children’s game, are really quite difficult. A lot of the time, the game doesn’t give you hints or ideas when it comes to certain things in the levels including the hidden Elite enemies. I’m still yet to defeat one. What doesn’t make things any easier is the stubborn camera which is only really moveable in one level which is open area. Other than that, the camera will move only when you move your character around the level, this makes trying to find things to solve puzzles and even boss battles or combat 10x more annoying than it needs to be.

Whilst Spyro doesn’t look bad, it definitely has its moments. Whilst free flying through a free roam Valley, the graphics were impressive and boastful, but with levels like on castle walls which play out exactly like levels from afore mentioned Lord of the Rings games the combat is clustered and difficult to manage, and the hordes of enemies attacking your castle are simply quick 2D animations all going at the same time in a continuous loop.

Music is good, fits the scenes; however the script just isn’t there. Spyros Dragonfly sparx is now used as some sort of comic relief in the game a lot like how Daxters one line quips eased the cut scenes, Sparx is now the ‘one-liner’ in most cut scenes but however fails to deliver with quite unfunny and flat toned jokes. Luckily, cut scenes can be skipped.

The game has a healthy set of levels with plenty of things like Elite enemies, armor, experience and health gems to return to and find. Although I cant help if this game was more like the older games that we’d have a bigger, more imaginative platform game to enjoy here.

If you have a second person around you can also instantly jump in 2 player mid way through your game, which is useful for those sticky combat areas.

Call me old fashioned but as I’ve just said, the original Spyros always had what the gamers wanted a fun, large open world plat former which was fun to play and had plenty of replay ability. If you enjoyed the gameplay of Eragon and fancy a bit of Spyro then your in luck, however be grateful this is the last of this Trilogy, and perhaps Insomniac Games could lend a few of their developers off Resistance series to maybe pick this back up next time round?

Rating 5

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