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DS  header logo

Eragon

For: DS   Also on: GameBoy, Mobile

Here be no monster

Product: Eragon | Developer: Griptonite Games | Publisher: Sierra Entertainment | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Eragon DS, thumbnail 1
Like shotgun weddings, the financially-motivated relationship between games and films seldom provides a stable foundation for long-term success. So imagine our surprise to discover Eragon offers both a whirlwind romance and the promise of grandchildren.

Yes, despite being based on a mediocre fantasy film (itself based on a planned trilogy of mediocre books), the DS version of the game is actually pretty good.

The trick behind this surprising turn of events is the steadying presence of gamemaker Amaze, who also came up with the decent DS version of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. (It made the awful DS version of LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy too, but we'll assume that was developed by its work experience division.)

Indeed, in many respects Eragon plays and feel like Pirates of the Caribbean. Both games use a neat third-person engine, with good fighting animations and fairly smooth graphics, considering the DS' underwhelming abilities when it comes to pushing polygons.

Eragon is the more solid experience however, thanks to its extensive combat system and straightforward plot.

Roughly following the film's story, you venture forth as the boy Eragon, who finds a blue stone in the woods. In due course, it hatches into the female dragon Saphira.

You're no ordinary boy, of course, but part of the mythic brotherhood of dragon riders, although disappointingly such activity doesn't feature much in the game. But with such status comes danger in the shape of evil King Galbatorix's henchmen who, before you can cry 'Clique!', have killed your uncle and destroyed your farm. It's time to head out for revenge

At the start, your actions are focussed on swordplay. A little meter on the touchscreen shows your weapon slowly levelling up the more you use it, and in time each type of slash becomes more powerful. You can also combo together moves using multiple presses of the 'X' and 'Y' buttons, and these too get more powerful as you move on.

Your other option is a bow and arrow, directed via a static first-person perspective. This can be tricky as most enemies come running straight towards you. With both sword and bow though, the game's lock-on makes your progress through various opposing bands of brutes, wolves, archers and birds relatively simple.

Also helping you through these early stages is a mini-map, which displays the positions of the enemies in the vicinity so you can work out your strategy before piling in. Thankfully it shows your next waypoint as well, because this is a game where it's easy to get lost, mainly because the levels are so big.

If this was all Eragon was about – levelling up your weapons, and suffering the occasional boss battle as well as some rather annoying 'flying your dragon through hoops' mini-games – it would still be a solid if unadventurous experience.

An hour or so in, however, there's a sudden change when touchscreen magic spells are introduced. To be fair, up to this point, you've always had to draw a squiggle to use health herbs, but now you get three offensive magic spells – an electricity bolt, a wind blast, which blows enemies backwards, and a containment spell.

It's great fun, particularly as you can pause the game for a couple of seconds to give you the opportunity to draw the right symbol even if enemies are all around. Also hugely satisfying is the way you get to flick the spell symbol in the general direction of the enemy using your stylus.

In fact, it almost makes it too easy, as you can wait until the brutes get really close, pause, bash them with a bolt, retreat a bit further and then knock them backwards and repeat the whole process. To be honest though, most enemies use a similar attack sequence of swiping then blocking, so  they're not the most sneaky of combatants.

So in order to ensure the game remains interesting, the power of the bad guys' attacks, as well as their numbers goes steadily up, keeping you on your toes, especially as there aren't that many save points scattered around.

The addition of more magical options provides opportunities for more interesting mini-games too. In one example, the careful use of an immobilisation spell is required to solve a moving platform jumping puzzle.

Combined with a ramping up of the story's pace – you start to receive mystical cries for help from an imprisoned beauty – and a good selection of environments, from caves, to castle towers, dungeons and mountains, this makes for a testing and enjoyable experience.

There are a couple of niggles. The 3D camera is regularly unwieldly, and the some of more complex boss battles force you to kill the right people in the right order, which is often highly frustrating and feels artifical. But in general, anyone stepping into the world of Eragon should forget the film and prepare for some good, honest DS action.
 
Eragon
Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan | 4 January 2007
Despite its dodgy film licence pedigree, Eragon is a surprisingly enjoyable addition to the ranks of DS action games
 
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Joined:
Jan 2007
Post count:
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Black11 | 11:30 - 6 January 2007
Ok i dont like DS but this sounds alright. The only thing is that the graphics arent that good in it.....
 
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