Dragons should equal fun. Mythology's favourite flamethrowers have hot special moves, scales, and a tendency to hoard gold... So it's slightly baffling that Eragon can get it so wrong.
Instead of a thrilling napalmsquirting ride through a popular fantasy world, this movie tie-in is a combination of dreadful Streets of Rage in 3D scrolling combat and utterly abominable lizardpiloting levels.
Why is this quite so bad? What the hell went wrong? Has the sidescrolling beat- 'em-up run its course? The lack of depth in combat and the grinding straight line progression though the film sets only reminds you that Golden Axe perfected that particular formula 17 years ago. Lego Star Wars is this game but much better: it brought humour, varied characters, cleverly laid-out puzzles and a genuine enthusiasm for the subject matter - none of which are evident here. Had Eragon borrowed some footage from the film, we might feel some empathy for the moping teenage hero, but its cutscenes reveal barely anything. You're left with a plot thinner than hospital undies.
Scrapping, which makes up 90% of the game, is simply a case of hammering two buttons until the room is clear of enemies: it doesn't feel like you're directing a series of discrete moves, more tapping buttons to cause a flurry of nondescript sword waving. You start the game with three initially impressive combos, but they remain exactly the same (and no more effective) until the end. The addition of magical abilities such as a Jedi-esque push and pull, plus the odd potent attack, means that if you're bored of knocking seven shades out of swordsman #473 you can set him on fire and watch him plunge to his doom. That sounds much more exciting than it really is. Sorry.
Flying your dragon somehow manages to be even less fun. The swooping camera dictates where you go, leaving you in charge of frustratingly limited 2D movement and punishing you for failing to psychically predict where the camera will dive next.
The worst elements of Eragon come to a head in a level called Durza's Fortress. It's a crushing marathon through floor after identical floor of tepid combat punctuated with slap-in-the-face 'puzzles'. Add to that a few infuriating platform balancing challenges and an immovable camera and you've got a recipe for hurling your joypad (the only way to play this console orientated game) across the room in disgust. Sorry, avid teen-lit fans. This game is not even worth a cursory glance - it's tedious beyond belief, has a plot that must have been ripped from the Eragon junior colouring book and action scenes that make me cry. And they've gimped the dragons.
A profoundly uninspiring tie-in.
- Got the film cast (that's it)
- It's not pretty
- It's not Lord of the Rings....sorry.