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Platform(s): GameCube, PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Vivendi
Developer: Stormfront Studios


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PC Review - 'Eragon'

by Steven Mills on April 16, 2007 @ 12:16 a.m. PDT

Eragon is an epic fantasy-adventure which centers on a young farm boy named Eragon whose destiny is revealed with the help of a dragon. Based on the upcoming movie, Eragon, now a Dragon Rider, is swept into a world of magic and power, discovering that he alone has the power to save -- or destroy -- an Empire.

Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Vivendi Universal Games
Developer: Stormfront Studios
Release Date: November 15, 2006

I am Eragon, a farm boy on the outskirts of Carvahall! What's this, a stone — no, an egg! I am now Eragon, a boy who turned hero overnight and is the last Dragon Rider in all of Alagaësia! Now, anyone who knows anything about Eragon knows the storyline all too well, whether they've read the book, seen the movie, or even played the game. The Eragon history and world, although very beautiful and intriguing, are far too clichéd.

For those who have managed to sidestep the media frenzy accompanying the "Eragon" book, movie, and video games, Alagaësia is ruled by the evil villain, King Galbatorix, a once-legendary Dragon Rider who angrily rebelled against the peace-keeping Dragon Riders council. Galbatorix, along with the Forsworn (a group of 13 riders who also betrayed the order), began to hunt and kill dragons and their chosen elite riders, so dragons and their riders were believed to have been extinct for many years. When Eragon realizes that he's responsible for a dragon, he names her Saphira, seeks council from the village elder, and learns the ancient ways of the Dragon Riders.

When I loaded Eragon onto my PC, I was warned that Eragon was best played with a controller, such as the Xbox 360 controller. I ignored this and tried to play the game with the keyboard anyway, but I found that the controller "warning" message was much more than a warning. The game was very difficult to play using the keyboard controls, so I hooked up my Xbox 360 controller and was on my merry way.

Naturally, the first mission in Eragon is a tutorial that teaches the movement and attacking controls, including every possible combo. The battle system seemed very linear and basic right from there, and the bow and arrow — although I love to use ranged attacks — seemed very useless and inefficient. From playing through the title, I realized that my initial thoughts on the battle system and ranged attacks were pretty accurate.

For anyone who played the Lord of the Rings console games (Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, Return of the King), Eragon will be way too familiar for it to be considered a coincidence. It uses the same engine and same general play style as those games did, including the leveling system. You have a world map with a set path going from beginning to end, and you beat each level one by one, unlocking the next. Each level allows you to play on Easy, Medium, or Hard, has a Secret Egg hiding somewhere within the level which unlocks "Extras" like videos and behind-the-scenes footage of making the game.

I've heard some bad things about the graphics in Eragon, but they were actually quite beautiful on my computer, and the lighting really gave it a good feel. The fire and magic effects from Saphira and Eragon using magic added realism to the events, and the water effects were simply beautiful.

The music and sounds in the game were only mediocre; to be honest, a few hours after playing, I can't even remember what exactly the music sounded like. The sound effects were rather straightforward, with your character making grunting sounds when swinging his sword and saying a simple chant when using magic. The voiceovers matched that of their characters, though, which seems to be left out of a lot of licensed games.

Although it's much better to play Eragon with a controller than a keyboard, the controls aren't very intricate. You simply slam a few buttons to pull off combos or attacks, and when firing the bow, hold a button while pushing another at the same time. During the flying portions when you're controlling Saphira, the controls don't change much, except that the analog stick now moves Saphira left and right, instead of Eragon.

Speaking of flying Saphira, that was one thing I was looking forward to in the game, and honestly, I was very unimpressed. When you fly Saphira, she basically follows a set path and moves around it in a circle; the only control you have is moving her left or right in attempts to dodge oncoming arrows or other obstacles in your way.

Similar to the Lord of the Rings offerings, the multiplayer in Eragon consists of you and a friend playing through the levels in co-op mode. The only benefit I saw from having a friend accompany you is the company, and the ability to take down the pesky enemies quicker. On top of that, even on the hardest setting, my character didn't die once, which really stresses that the game is aimed at a young target audience.

Overall, Eragon was a big letdown and helped prove that licensed games are hard to pull off and make enjoyable. Eragon seems as if they tried to sell it based on its name, and helped prove to me that when you convert a book to a movie it loses quality, and when you convert a movie to a game, it loses even more. I'd recommend staying away from Eragon, but if you absolutely loved the book or movie and would love to swing Eragon's sword or "fly" Saphira, then, and only then, should you give Eragon a try.

Score: 4.0/10

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