On the back of a fire breathing-dragon is where Eragon stands against the invading army of Shade Durza. Players who take the role of Eragon step into a world of magic-based combat and combos, including finishing moves, grapples, and counter attacks, as they journey from the village of Carvahall to the home of Farthen Dûr in an adventure based on the 2006 film. Gamers begin as a semi-skilled hero who is upgraded as the story progresses. Players may execute attacks with arrows, swords, and magic. For example, Eragon can push or pull an enemy toward him or knock attackers off platforms. His magical capabilities allow him to manipulate his environment by creating pathways to previously unreachable areas. During the adventure, players may call for help from Saphira, Eragon's dragon, to complete airborne objectives and deliver attacks from the sky during melee combat on the ground. In flight, players direct the movement of the dragon, delivering tail swipes and fireballs to opponents as Saphira.
It is said that powerful dragon riders protected once the lands of Alagaesia, but Galbatorix murdered them and claimed the throne (the game doesn't say why or how, the book does however). Now this is the perfect setting for a young farmboy named Eragon to go hunting in the nearby mountains, called "The Spine", and be presented with a beautiful bright blue stone. In fact this was one of the last dragon eggs so, as the egg hatches, the boy finally takes the first step in fulfilling his destiny. He names the female dragon Saphira for her sapphire color.
One day Eragon meets Brom who becomes his mentor, teaching him about magic, swordfighting and dragon riding. The 15 years old boy has visions of a charming elf woman, Arya, calling for his help so he sides with Brom in finding her. The lands have plenty of surprises in store for the two, as the evil king's forces are everywhere. In charge of the sinister army of Ra'zacs and Urgals is a powerful Shade named Durza. Ra'zacs resemble fleshy mummies with long sharp blades for hands, while Urgals are the sort of barbarians that you may have come across in other games.
Following the traces to save Arya, Eragon faces tons of enemies all through the south - western territories of Alagaesia. Brom and, later in game, Murthagh along with Saphira aid the young hero in his quest to defeat the Shade and free the beautiful elf.
Action adventure games were among the first ones to be developed by the video games industry (remember the Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda series). Although about 20 years have passed, the rules and defining elements haven't changed much. The story is still linear and of very modest complexity (it does however offer a few surprises); the character interaction is nowhere to be found (they just fight side by side and you will be given hints of their dialogues through the cutscenes); the greatest difficulty is once more the physical reaction speed of the player and his sharpness. You are to fight big bad Urgals all game long and solve small, easy movement based puzzles.
Eragon was thought of to be a platform game. The PC version is nothing more than the ported console game with additional visual effects. This is probably why it is best you played it using a gamepad as the button combinations may prove to be a greater challenge than the whole fighting in the story (you may consider this as the forth level of difficulty if you want to).
The game concentrates on combat tactics that combine swordfighting, bow shooting and the use of magical abilities (telekinesis and much later fire magic - again with the omnipresent fireballs). It also presents the player with the opportunity of some (three to be exact) dragon riding and enemy tail killing. Although indispensable to the main quest the ranging and magic skills are poorly developed and they don't offer much help (they are fun to use, but you can easily rely only on the trusty sword) during the actual fights.
The swordfighting is the star feature of the game. The player is allowed a rather wide choice of combos using the two swings available. Aside from the combat advanced moves grabbing combos are also available and they prove to be extremely useful as Eragon can use them as finishing moves or as grab and throw combos that make room through the nearby enemies, pilling them up or throwing them over the edges of bridges and narrow mountain passes. The downside is that later in game you may decide on using only certain combos and the grabbing moves as they offer easier ways to dispose of enemies (or just get by them).
The thing that bugged me and I haven't come up with a reasonable explanation no matter what was that at some points Eragon received better weapons and even armors for himself and Saphira. The thing is that except for the nice look of it, there was no change in the fights (probably just to keep up with the story). The only skill increase that can be noticed is the "Fury" ability. As the hero and his companion finish off enemy after enemy, they gain power orbs that allow the use of fury (they gradually consume the power) increasing their attack speed and power.
"You! You will be the next dragon rider!" With this in mind you start your Eragon adventures through Alagaesia. Ra'zac, Urgals and the king's soldiers are all to get you and your azure dragon Saphira. The enemies are strong. Fortunately they are not much of a cooperative bunch so they sometimes wait their turn to battle you unless you specifically invite them in (attacking them by mistake). They'll be all over you and your fighting partner. There are some missions where there is a certain number of enemies to be defeated, but usually they just keep popping from where you least expect them (they seem to be very good rock climbers) and you need to finish them as quickly as possible and move on.
Your fighting partner is a skillful sidekick being of immense help to the hero. He's an efficient ranger and he gets along wonderfully with the sword, making use of several combos and even finishing moves. What I especially appreciated was the fact that he sticks by my side, true, he sometimes needs to "teleport" over awkward puzzle paths, but the majority of the time he's just one foot from me. Sometimes he even gives hints on what to do next.
Aside from the three out of seventeen missions where you have to ride Saphira, she is also of big help in other missions by destroying bridges with her tail, bombing the enemies with rocks, chewing them up or burning the fields that they use for hiding. On the other hand the dragon flights are astonishing. While on the back of the blue giant creature Eragon can make use of her strong tail to take down groups of enemies or use his magic arrows to shoot'em up. The flight control is easy and it obeys most of the physical known laws: you turn gradually, speed up or slow down to avoid damage but the dragon takes damage when hitting trees (I understand knocking into rocks or the ground, but what can the wind swinging poor trees do to the scales of a dragon). Fortunately there are plenty of white doves in the skies just in time to regain the health of the blue lady creature.
The saving system does a good job, despite the fact that you are not allowed to save your progress whenever you want. There are two kinds of saves available (both automatic): the save at the end of the mission (where you are also allowed to select a special slot to use, although I don't see its utility - you can go back to repeat past missions anyway so unless you're not playing different difficulty levels there's no point to it) and there are the checkpoints. Checkpoints are well placed and offer the chance of brief cutscenes. The downside to these is that once you quit the game you can't continue from the last checkpoint, but only from the beginning of a mission.
In addition to the main quest every level of the game contains a hidden secret dragon egg. Collecting these unlocks short movies on the making of the game available in the main menu and also promises a bonus stage (if you missed its location and got to a checkpoint better restart the mission as you can't go back anymore).
The thing that hinders gameplay the most is the camera view. The game is based on the concept of a movie like action. Hence you have no control over the camera movement. Usually it catches indeed the best angle of the action, but there are moments when you fight blind folded as you can only catch faint glimpses of Eragon's weapons and nothing more. What is more, there are missions where you go into circles as the camera fails to change unless you hit a certain point on the ground and you get no idea of where to go.
The interaction with game objects is very limited. Apart from magical spots that reveal themselves for you, there are only few things to destroy: some bushes at the beginning of the game, some bridge edges and a few crates containing health replenishes and power orbs. The only other thing to do is grip on to different edges or long, solid wood sticks that get you across inaccessible terrain.
The visual aspect is of crucial importance in action games and the developing team at Stormfront Studios knows this, as they have one of the longest creative experience in the gaming industry with both PC and console games (from the first online play-by-e-mail game Quantum Space to different sport simulators and more recently The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone). Although the landscapes in the game don't excel in terms of graphics, the character's design looks pretty good. They move rather naturally and are granted with highly appealing fighting animations.
The counter attacks are remarkably well put into the light through a blurry quick approach on the scene that resembles the action of a movie. To tell the truth, the entire game offers a faint sensation of watching an action film (commercial breaks included as it needs to save after each accomplished mission), which is exactly what the producers intended.
Amazingly refined looked the passing from the sketched story cutscenes to the in game landscapes. Yet the sights in the missions seem a little unpolished (maybe it looks a lot better on a PS2) and when you see the cinematic short movies you can't stop wondering why it couldn't be more like that. It's to appreciate at least that the game characters are a lot like the movie ones (it was however a must).
Right on the spot! This is the best part of the game, as it features the exact music of the movie and the dialogs are read by the actual actors you'll encounter in Eragon, the movie. The orchestra is playing in the background while sword clashing, voice acting and occasional magical words mumbling can be heard in the foreground.
Having a sidekick all through the game, Stormfront Studios found a very well suited way to implement sort of a multiplayer option. You can invite a friend to come along on your adventures as Brom or Murtagh. The end of the mission will also present you with the statistics of the fight - the number of enemies each of you killed. If you're playing the game you might want to give it a try it - a human side player is a lot better than a computer one. Besides it offers a good enough motive to replay the game.
Looks like the video games and the movies industries start to interact more and more often and it seems to be a boost for the both of them. Well, the game offers about 8-10 hours of gaming experience and I can't really say I was particularly impressed with it. All in all, if the game was meant to be a preview to the movie, than it met its goal beautifully. Otherwise, despite the fun experience and appealing storyline, I'm sorry to say it's not a must have of the action adventure genre.
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