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Thursday | December 8, 2016
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Legend Of Spyro: Dawn Of The Dragon

Legend Of Spyro: Dawn Of The Dragon

Dawn Of The Dragon is the third title in the Spyro series and the first to be developed by relative unknown Etranges Libellules. Today even though the game ships on the Wii, Playstation 2, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 we are going to focus on the 360 & PS3 versions because there are numerous improvements, such as more advanced particle effects and higher resolution textures.

It would be safe to say that Spyro has never looked better with smooth animations, lovely textures and depth of field and bloom in certain situations. Additionally the acting cast combines modern day heroes such as Elijah Wood and Christina Ricci with oldies such as Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman taking up the rear. This A list of acting talent really enhances the story telling and sets the tone for a well scripted and interesting story line.

If you have played the last two titles then you are going to find this extremely easy to jump into however equally so if this series is new to you then it can be a little disorienting, especially in regards to the in game characterisations. Why? Well Spyro and his companion Cynder wake up to find themselves inside in a crystal and unless you have played previous games in the franchise you are given little to hint at exactly what has transpired to this point. You are also expected to know who Malefor is and why Hunter is out to seek revenge. Sadly the story presentation and background history is sadly lacking which will ruin some peoples enjoyment of the flowing nature of the title. The developer is a little at fault here with their scripting system as I feel a little more attention to detail would have enhanced the title to newbies joining Spyro for this adventure.

Basically it is up to Spyro and Cynder to stop the Dark Master from ruining the land with his evil touch and you embark upon a quest to end his tyrannical rule. It is difficult not to notice the huge, open ended environments which is a drastic improvement over the previous outings. Certainly the game is linear by nature, but your route to the exits are open to your desires.

An interesting game mechanic is the fact that Spyro is tethered to Cynder and they have to work as a team to achieve their goals. Spyro is the more powerful of the two while Cynder has extra speed. You switch between the dragons with a button press or you can invite a second human player into the battle to play cooperatively. This co-op mode is interesting because you have to manage power resources between each other as well as working out the dual combos. It is well coded and is a lot of fun, even if it is somewhat limited by the fact it has to be played on a single screen. Obviously as you are stuck together this isn’t a massive issue but you are limited in the direction you wish to explore the environments. In single player mode one of the dragons is controlled by the AI and unfortunately it is slightly dumb, it lags behind a human brain and when you most need it in battle it will frequently disappoint. That said, due to the adhered nature of the characters at least you won’t spend time waiting around for the AI to realise where you are.

Fans of the series will be pleased to hear that you can now fly at will, something that I always felt was missing from the other games … equally so, this are well handled so jumping between the air and ground is easy to achieve.

Overall however the game plays much like the others we have played and loved before, whether this is a bad thing or not will be dependent on the person because this game series has a lot of hard core fans who really don’t want it to change that much. The dragons move well, they are responsive to your controls and the whole mechanic is a testament to long hours of play testing by the developers.  Negatively however the battles are a little monotonous even with the dragons combined array of attacks (they can breathe fire, ice, lightning and wind for instance). The puzzles are also not particularly challenging and it is clear they are left wide open to a broad audience … that being younger inexperienced gamers.

The camera is generally decent however there are occasions from time to time when you will end up looking at a weird angle while the camera coding is attempting to rectify its position in the environment, this can be annoying.

Graphically, as I mentioned briefly earlier, the game is the prettiest in the series however it is still nowhere near cutting edge, like Gears Of War 2 on the 360 for example. The graphics are merely adequate and effective rather than jaw dropping or sexy. The Wii version looks horrific however by comparison, so perhaps the fact I played it first has coloured my view of the Ps3 and Xbox 360 versions. They aren’t bad at all.

The Legend Of Spyro series has ended on a high note with Dawn Of The Dragon, granted it isn’t going to blow anyone away and people who haven’t enjoyed the series before are highly unlikely to find anything rewarding from playing the new title. The game looks and plays the best on the 360 and PS3 as the more powerful systems help the environment frame rates and add graphical touches to enhance the overall appearance. Cooperative game play adds a nice touch and if you fancy becoming a kid again this Christmas with a good friend then this will be a decent investment. Recommended for fans of the series.

Gameplay

78/100

Very basic and old school. How much of a bad thing this is will be down to user opinion.

Graphics
80/100
PS3 and Xbox 360 give a good showing. Detailed characters and nice animation help to increase the immersion.
Sound
84/100
Top list of actors including Gary Oldman, Wayne Brady, Elijah Wood, Christina Ricci and Mark Hamill. Decent soundtrack.
Value
73/100
Cooperative mode is good fun but there really isn’t much incentive to replay after completion.
Overall
(not an average)
78/100

A fun game for fans of the series.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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