|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Quebec||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 28, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
For the most part, controls are adequate. Navigating levels is fairly painless, though it's easy to accidentally trigger one of the two menu icons located on the bottom of the touch screen. Battles are bit more finicky, and most players will likely find it difficult to engage in any type of real strategy. Flicking the stylus in order to get your dragon to attack, guard, or dodge only works about half of the time. We lost quite a few battles because our dragon refused to respond to our touch-screen inputs.
Defeating certain dragons earns you gems, which you can then set into body parts, adding to your arsenal of attacks. It's a pretty basic system, one that won't compel most players to "collect 'em all." From your lair, you can change your dragon's colors and/or stripes, though neither affects your dragon's stats. You'll earn new body parts, which can also be tweaked, but again, these are strictly cosmetic additions.
After completing a couple of the game worlds, you'll be asked to take the form of a different dragon. Don't expect the gameplay to change up too much, though, as Battle of Giants is pretty much a one-trick pony.
Adding weirdness to mediocrity is a collection of unexpected battles. During the very first level, I entered a cave, only to be greeted by a T-rex. Later on, I found myself in a standoff with a school bus. That's not a typo. In spite of the uber-serious pretense of the story, players will come across some real oddities in Battle of Giants: Dragons. How about a robot as an end-stage boss? This sort of comic relief is right out of left field, and rather than laughing with the game, you'll end up laughing at it.
Battle of Giants isn't without its share of technical flubs, either. On one occasion, when attempting to land our dragon, we ended up stuck beneath the ground. The only solution found was to shut off the DS and restart, losing our level progress up to that point.
If there's any value to be found here, it has to be in the single-card, multiplayer options. You can hook up with a friend for a duel, or play with up to four players in Tournament. It's strictly battles - no exploration - but it's a nice feature that's virtually lag-free.
Regardless of our disappointment with both the story and gameplay, it's hard to ignore the pretty visuals in Battle of Giants. The dragon models are attractive, and watching their flight animations is often enjoyable. Environments exhibit a surprising level of smooth detail, though there isn't a whole lot of variety on offer here. Battle animations will surely be entertaining for anyone who is able to figure out the machinations of the game, though they can also be quite tedious to watch after the 100th time.
The music tries to add elements of excitement, with cadences that sound off when you've attain a gem or completed some other objective. It's hard to feel rewarded, though, when you're being forced to run through such trivial tasks. The developers have created a unique dragon language for the game, which is just another confusing addition in light of some of the enemies that pop up throughout the adventure. Battle sounds and other noises don't do much to help elevate the experience, but the overall production is admirable.
Battle of Giants: Dragons is a pretty tight package, but it's presented with little consideration for the player. The gameplay is absurdly obtuse, with objectives that amount to little more than slowly meandering through uneventful levels and engaging in battles that yield little reward. Visually, that game's kind of a treat, though the sparse variety means the novelty wanes quickly. For good or ill, the game's quite short, though players can fiddle with the single-card multiplayer if they find themselves amused by the battle system.
CCC Freelance Writer