My second product review
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE GAME
my verdict on the game of the popular film
I went into this game expecting the best thing since sliced bread.
I am a huge fan of the film; I love the world, its characters, its adorable (and sometimes scary) dragons… That world takes me so far from mine that I forget, when I come back to reality, that I am not, in fact, a child, but an adult, and that a game designed for children may not necessarily be to my taste, though I want it to be…
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This game is, by no means, “bad”. I have played far worse, especially games adapted from other formats (comics, films etc). I do think, however, that it could have been so much better.
Though my expectations were high, making me almost certain to be disappointed, I honestly think even children would find this game difficult to tolerate. Children are far more intelligent than games developers often give them credit for, and this was clearly no exception.
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This game’s biggest fault is that, though the characters and dragons and setting are there, and the animation and gameplay itself is quite good, the established mythology of the film appears to have been completely disregarded. The dialogue seems to suggest that Vikings have been taming dragons for centuries, though it is well established in the titular film that Hiccup is the first of his people to ever accomplish the feat.
The basic concept says that “every year” tournaments are held between dragon tamers and their dragons, who fight each other for Viking glory. A plot that is, to be honest, an utter let down, considering the emotion and the depth of the film, and, as aforementioned, contradicts the established history. If you are not an established fan of the franchise, however, you will of course have no difficulties accepting the premise.
Another big problem is the repetitive gameplay and dialogue. You will find yourself walking back and forth from place to place, doing mundane, repetitious tasks in order to level up your dragon and advance the plot, and that the AI characters say the same three lines over and over, much, doubtless, to your annoyance. But, if you play this game in small segments, rather than long sittings, you will find that it maintains its quirky charm and fun-factor.
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Problems aside, I did very much enjoy training my dragon and fighting other characters in the various tournaments, and the cut scenes between did make me smile, even if not nearly as much as the film. The Arcade Mode, which allows you to fight off against your friends sharing your console, or against the computer AI, also allows for more replayability than you would normally expect from film tie-ins.
Adults who want to find that “first RPG” for their mini-geek will also enjoy the game dynamics, which require the player to complete various mini-games and quests in order to advance their dragon’s rank and gain new skills, very much in the style of the Elder Scrolls or Final Fantasy games, but on a much smaller scale. They might also find that they enjoy it themselves, as a light hearted “guilty pleasure”, though I recommend playing it in small quantities as it can be quite draining, with its repetition.
Gamerscore hoarders will also be very much be at home here, as many of the Achievements (or Trophies, whichever applies) require not so much effort, as time. Ten or twenty hours of playing through the campaign as either character, and many of them will occur through natural gameplay.
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In conclusion, this is a game that, though not really working with established continuity, lacking in the heart and depth that the film has, and a tad repetitive, is lighthearted fun that the whole family can enjoy together, or that the more “hardcore gamer” can enjoy as a guilty pleasure and a welcome break from the seriousness of their usual gaming taste.
“Give it a shot, why not?” very much applies here. It is by no means a waste of money nor time, but it is also not something that I would recommend rushing out to by and spend hours of enjoyment playing. I recommend this as a rental, or a “sale buy” for fans of the film, parents of young children, or for hardcore gamers looking for something more light hearted that can still give them a nice gamerscore boost.
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