Reviewed: November 4, 2008
Released: October 21, 2008
The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon is the third in the series of this title and the tenth game for the little dragon with a big heart. At least that is what I have read, being new to the console gaming has me in a unique position to have never played a previous version of Spyro before. Going into this game I have no prejudices one way or the other but too many things here just donít add up to a great hit.
Spyro is a cute little dragon and his playmate Cynder may have a darker past but she is a very fitting partner in this game. Itís just a shame the game could not have been better for the single player with less of the ďI have no clue what to do nextĒ as well as button mashing.
One thing that I think is great is the list of actors lending their voice talents such as Mark Hamill, Elijah Wood, Blaire Underwood and Wayne Brady. On the other side we have the very obvious borrowing from other games and movies such as the Troll that looks suspiciously like a Balrog.
Some elements of Dawn of the Dragon make for some fun gameplay like the two players controlling both dragons at the same time for some unique coop play. But the gameplay in total does not add up to a long game filled with fun battles playing singly or with a friend.
The gameplay in Dawn of the Dragon can be boiled down to three things with plenty of each; puzzle solving with very little help from the game, fighting waves of enemies or one really big boss battle here and there. Dawn of the Dragon struggles in a lot of areas with camera and control issues as well as the enemy AI and the sheer number of enemies but other things mar this otherwise promising title.
The plot is a simple one of Spyro, Sparx and Cynder having to defeat the evil Malefor with the help of Hunter, but you will need more help than this in my opinion. The games strategy to keep the two dragons together is unique and works well; a green snake thing is around both necks of the dragons and keeps them together magically.
This means when one flies off in a direction the other is pulled after so you are never far apart when needing to use the abilities of the other. Elements are magic abilities and Spyro has his Earth, Fire, Ice and Electricity while Cynder uses Fire, Poison, Wind and Shadow.
You also have some attack and defense moves as well as being able to fly at will but flight is not all that great, you can glide really well but it takes some work to get any altitude at all. The flying mechanic may be a well sought after move for the series but it only added a few puzzle games to the mix and did not add to the fun of the game much in the end.
Single players can switch between the two dragons at the press of a trigger while the two player mode has both doing their own thing but connected with the collar thing. Some of the puzzles in the game will use one or the others elements to solve them while others will just be a matter of try and try again till you get the platforming stunts performed.
If youíre into the puzzle platforming action this is full of them so you have that to look forward to but some of them can be very difficult to solve. I am not sure if itís a glitch or I blinked a really long time but in several scenes I missed the helpful little hint where the camera shows you were to go next.
You are supposed to be able to get help from Sparx during your platforming but there is no help here at all, he just flits around and occasionally adds his two cents which isnít worth that much. The levels are sometimes large but more often than not itís the camera and the fact that you have no clue what to do next or where to go that hinders forward movement.
The objectives are the usual platforming things like flying from here to there and having to occasionally grab onto vines to climb up. The beginning level also has you using the platforming skills to take an Adamantine Orb from one spot to another without the ability to fly.
These first examples are typical platforming puzzles you will be faced with throughout the game and this is where a good portion of your time will be spent. The other tedious task is the waves of enemies or just the boss fights that end up being a long struggle to find its weakness.
Dawn of the Dragons does spend a little too much effort and time on the repetitive tasks like platforming and boss fights due to one slip and its game over or start from the beginning. While this may be a fun way to go through a few of the puzzles or boss fights it gets very boring to have to keep starting a whole level or area over when you make one little slip.
The same with the boss fights where you will often have to repeat a few times to get things right due to their abilities to beat the living daylights out of you so easily. The boss fights are fun for the most part but the other fights can get so easily boring with their repetitive use of the same creatures that donít have any tactics at all.
For the most part the fights leading to the big ones will be a matter of hitting them with the same button mashing from start to finish. You can use various attacks or elements on them but they donít make any difference at all, every attack or element does the same damage.
The fights near the first half of the game are pretty simple but toward the end you will be confronted with more powerful enemies that just require constant beating to bring them all down. The main problem with any of this battling is the effects used when youíre using elements are just too flashy to see anything properly.
When a fight gets really going elements and other magical fighting starts to build and block out exactly what is going on. This is compounded with the fact that there are two little dragons being tethered in the same small area and all the other guys running around throwing in their magic.
The graphics and visuals are very nice for the scenes and effects but some of it is over the top like the fights where you get to not see what is going on. The camera controls compound things with very different control amounts for different areas.
In one scene you can turn the camera about fifteen degrees while in another you get about ninety degrees of camera movement. This makes one scene much easier and others much harder because you just canít see everything you need to as well as seeing stuff you really donít care about.
The levels are very haphazardly designed and you will often have to wander around a lot to find out where youíre supposed to be going next. The textures and effects are well done and look good individually but when there is so much fighting going on near two dragons that can shoot fire and other effects pretty much at the same time things get too hectic.
Audio is great and the theme music is well done with a great voice acting roster as well but often times you will have silence as well. In some scenes the battles and cut scenes are very well created with great audio but on others when youíre wandering around trying to figure out what to do next it is eerily quiet.
Dawn of the Dragon will not take too long to play through but it can get somewhat frustrating to figure out some scenes and what you are supposed to be doing next. The value here I would guess is more to those that have followed the story of Spyro and the Legend of Spyro more so than avid platformers.
The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon is more of a two player game and does get a lot more interesting and even easier to combat those waves of enemies. The single player just has too much on his plate to be able to really enjoy beating the enemies that just seem to keep on coming.
Dawn of the Dragons may be a game to be rented over buying if youíre not that much into Spyro but fans will probably want to purchase it for the final chapter to this saga. The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragons is an average game but there is just too much that could have been better in the main gameplay for a better score.