|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Estranges Libellules||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Vivendi||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Summer 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
May 8, 2008 - Everyone's favorite dragon is back this summer. Come to think of it, I can't think of a more popular dragon than Spyro. Come to think of it again, I can't think of another dragon's name. So it appears as though Spyro has cornered the market in dragon name-recognition. And he's done so successfully for the past decade. In recognition of his 10-year anniversary, Sierra and Estranges Libellules are putting out The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon. This title will complete the trilogy, which includes A New Beginning and Eternal Night.
Spyro's new game isn't debuting on a mere handheld. Proving that this franchise is destined for bigger and better things, it's going to be available on the X360, PS3, PS2, Wii, and the DS. You could say that Spyro has grown up, and that's what Dawn of the Dragon is all about. The story concerns the Dark Master and his plans to take over the Kingdom and rule it with an evil iron fist. Spyro has to look inside himself and become the hero he is capable of being. But this time he's got a little help from an old enemy.
Everybody loves an old-school platformer, and Spryo is poised to bring that gameplay style back to prominence. This game isn't necessarily aimed at kids. It's got plenty of action, depth, nuances, challenges, and Hollywood heavyweights such as Elijah Wood and Cristina Ricci lending their voice talents to the characters. Wood voices Spyro, and Ricci plays the role of his partner dragon. Spyro and his female counterpart work together on getting through the various stages by solving puzzles, defeating enemies, and avoiding pitfalls. The two dragons have different skills, and you can toggle between them at any time to exploit a specific skill to solve a particular dilemma. In this game, Spryo is capable of long-distance aerial maneuvers. His flying isn't limited to short bursts and gliding. He's all grown up now.
"Spyro has grown up a lot since his debut, and players are going to notice advanced gameplay, character design, and story lines in Dawn of the Dragon," said Al Simone, senior vice president, Global Marketing for Sierra Entertainment. "The game takes some exciting twists and turns - fans of the series and newcomers alike will experience non-stop fun, a renewed sense of intensity and the type of challenging adventure only Spyro can overcome."
Another player can assume control of the alternate dragon at anytime during the gameplay. The alternate dragon's name is Cynder - so at least there is going to be another popular dragon I can remember by name. You may recall her from the previous game where she was Spyro's nemesis. A goth-like character that is now Spyro's most trusted ally. Cynder is always at Spyro's side, bound by an invisible tether to keep them from getting separated. This open co-op mode allows for uninterrupted gaming whether another player joins in or leaves the game abruptly. Although the game can be played entirely with one person, there are some special team-based moves that are exclusive in the co-op mode.
Looking at the screenshots, you'll notice a more mature art direction for the series. It still retains a cartoon style, but it's more refined and classier than ever. Even though Spryo is still a cutesy purple color, this ain't no Barney game. The situations, enemies, and levels in this game can be downright spine-chilling. Bosses are behemoths that literally fill the screen, spewing fire, jagged rocks, molten lava, and pure evil. Despite the introduction of darker elements into the game, it's not intended to scare the youngsters. It's intended to make things more exciting. The level of violence is bloodless, and there are no severed limbs or heads. Spyro may be grown up, but he's still family oriented.
In addition to Spyro's new flying ability, he can also control the elements. A special lightning attack can virtually clear the screen of enemies. Cynder's powers are more supernatural in nature. She can instill fear in enemies, making them weaker. Both dragons can increase their unique powers by collecting various gems scattered and hidden throughout the levels. Armor can also be amassed. Various pieces can be combined to create more powerful suits of protection that can also result in new abilities.
The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon is a game that is sure to appeal to a wide variety of gamers. It's filled with a variety of gameplay elements that is sure to appease platform enthusiasts of all ages. Spyro isn't just for kids; it's for everyone.
CCC Senior Writer