The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

The Legend of Spyro series has few connections to the original line of games and is a re-imagining that is focussed on fighting as opposed to jumping, and brings in a host of celebrities to voice the cast of characters.

The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon is the third and final game of the story arc. Those who played the second game: Eternal Night will remember that Spyro and, one time enemy, Cynder were left encased in ice, underneath a collapsed mountain after the defeat of main baddie Gaul, but they’re back here and are ready for a showdown with the baddies to end all baddies: the dark master, Malefor. It’s not a bad story and the voice acting is of a pretty high standard, which is all well and good as Dawn of the Dragon has plenty of story to tell.

This time around, with Cynder joining the fray, the game is centred around two player co-op play. The two are shackled together, giving good reason for the two players to never be able to travel too far from one another, even if the pesky camera sometimes does. Unsurprisingly there are sections that require the two players to work in tandem with one another, but such moments are actually quite rare and the game can quite easily be played as a single player game without too much bother, though obviously that’s not where the real intentions of the developer lie.

The combat system, whilst simple is nonetheless surprisingly robust, especially when you consider the little purple dragon’s platforming roots. It certainly shows the game’s primary focus, if nothing else. There’s a combo system in place, a roll manoeuvre and a magic system, but, since the action is so ludicrously fast, little in the way of satisfaction. It’s so rapid, that combos will likely be ignored and fighting will eventually devolve into a confusing, repetitive and boring button bashing fest, with perhaps the occasional conjure up of magic to take care of the tougher enemies. In this regard the game has little to offer in terms of challenge, unless you take on the hidden elite enemies, which are the opposite end of the scale and for machinists only.

There’s boss encounters too. These fare better than the skirmishes with enemy grunts, as strategy often calls for a little more than just bashing buttons, some are even highlights of the game and have a nice, epic feel to them.

Defeated enemies will win you experience of which – through a simple RPG style upgrade system – you can upgrade your skills with , but allotting the experience to the more expensive of upgrades can take an age and are often ultimately not worth the bother with, so forgive me for being unexcited about bolstering my attack options. Spyro and Cynder can further be upgraded by exploring (by of course walking but more notably flying about) every nook and cranny of the stages to discover health and magic upgrades, which doubles up as a nice respite from all that repetitive fighting.

One of the real strengths of Dawn of the Dragon is its lovely production values. The game often looks beautiful, with the more vibrant areas looking especially extraordinary, which makes it such a shame that much of the game is spent fighting through caves and other boring dark areas. There’s quite a bit of slowdown which can take away from the appeal of the visuals somewhat, but it’s never so bad as to make the game unplayable or horrifically ugly. Musically it’s also of a generally high standard and is often suitably epic.

The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon is too much centred on repetitive and flawed fighting, and its graphical engine is largely wasted on uninteresting level design – functioning a game that is simply not all that good. A terrible shame as an old fashioned Spyro the Dragon with the same glorious visuals could have been something really special, rather than this depressingly average end result.