Eragon PlayStation 2
Published by Vivendi Games
Developed by Stormfront Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Eragon is a game based on the movie of the same name that in turn was based on the book by Christopher Paolini. The story is about a teenage boy named Eragon who, whilst hunting, comes across what appears to be a large blue polished stone. Eragon keeps this stone only to find that it’s a dragon egg. A dragon hatches from the egg and forms a bond with Eragon who becomes a dragon rider with special magical abilities. Of course in stories such as this there is always a despicable enemy who’ll stop at nothing to wreak havoc and destruction and King Galbatorix leaves no stone unturned in his efforts to crush both Eragon and his dragon Saphira.
The game is a third-person action title that features sword fighting and ranged combat via the bow and arrow and Eragon’s magic power. The game features a few combo moves although it’s fair to say the combat is nowhere near as sophisticated as it could have been. Whilst Eragon’s magic can be used to attack there are also times when you can make better use of it to take out numerous enemies or provide a route across an obstacle, which is one of the better elements in the game. When using your bow and arrow you can hold down the X button (until the force feedback kicks in) to perform a more accurate shot, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately though, most enemies don’t appear to take too much damage from an arrow. Occasionally you’ll get to ride Saphira and call her in for attacks on your enemies when on foot. Saphira’s presence in the game is limited though and probably not as much as fans of the movie or book would have been expecting. The game does allow a second player to jump into the action at any time, which is a nice touch but it doesn’t really add much to the experience apart from giving you a little company on the sofa.
Eragon could and should have been a very enjoyable fantasy action title but sadly there are too many areas of the game that could have been better. For a start it’s far too short with the game only taking between 6-8 hours at the most. The AI is pretty poor and doesn’t put up much of a challenge for the most part. The game is extremely linear and provides an on-rails experience meaning that the replay value is virtually zero. The game is fortunate enough to have both a book and movie to rely upon for its source material but you wouldn’t think so given how bland an experience the game is. The game seems to jump from one sequence to another without ever managing to build up a sense of identity for any of its characters and that’s a real shame.
Graphically Eragon is disappointing and doesn’t look as good as a PlayStation 2 game should. The character models in particular look below par and the same can be said for their animations too. Defeated enemies simply disappear, which also looks kind of crude. The camera angles are simply annoying as they are fixed and frequently give you an awkward view of the proceedings. There are times when you’ll have to fire at off-screen enemies and battle with enemies who are too far away or when your view is obstructed by an object. The camera only zooms in when you perform a special move. There is no way to change the camera zoom or angle, which is annoying. Whilst controlling Saphira the camera feels especially cumbersome and can often lead to you taking damaged needlessly. Still the load times aren’t too bad and the frame rate is pretty reasonable throughout.
The biggest problem with Eragon, from a deaf gamer’s perspective is that there are no subtitles in the game. All of the game’s cutscenes are not subtitled, which means you’ll be completely unaware of the story. Any comments made during the main game, by Eragon and other key characters, are also not subtitled. In regards to tutorial messages you only have the control instructions shown in text. Objectives aren’t shown in text but because of the game’s linearity it’s always fairly obvious what needs to be done, so it’s unlikely that you’ll ever feel left in the dark about anything.
From all angles Eragon is disappointing. It doesn’t look as good as it should and deaf gamers will be completely unaware of the game’s story, which really isn’t on. That’s not to say the game has a story that’s worthwhile. Yes it’s based on a movie that’s based on a very popular book but you wouldn’t think so given how generic everything seems in the game. It just seems like you’re playing a collection of monotonous action sequences with the challenge coming from the number of enemies you face rather than their competency to put up a worthwhile fight. I daresay fans of the movie or book might find something here to kindle their interest but others would probably be better off just purchasing the book, if they haven’t already done so.
An awkward camera, repetitive combat and the absence of subtitles mean Eragon is a pretty poor experience for deaf gamers.