Eragon is a game based on the movie based on the book about a simple farm boy who chances upon a dragon egg and finds that he is destined to be a dragon rider and save the kingdom from its evil despot of a king. Itís a pretty standard fantasy storyline that seems tailor-made for a video game, considering that video gamers have been saving kingdoms from evil usurpers with nothing more than a sword and a spellbook for quite some time now. All thatís missing here is an imprisoned princess. In spite of this, thereís not much story to Eragon the game. Itís a hack and slash fest that suffers from the same basic problem that weighs down many hack and slash games, namely that slaughtering a seemingly endless stream of generic foes quickly grows tedious.
First of all I have to let you know that if youíre not familiar with the book or the (as of this writing) still to be released film then thereís not much of a point in playing this game. The levels are connected to the overall plot by the brief cutscenes that separate them. However these cutscenes donít convey much of the story, serving more as touch points to those familiar with the story than as a way to retell it to those who arenít. It made me think of Family Guy Ė remember that time when Eragon found that egg and then went to the village to kill hundredís of the kingís soldiers Ö itís like that time when Eragon met a guy named Brom in a bar and then they killed hundreds of the kingís soldiers Ö Ė itís a collection of little snippets of loosely connected story followed by seemingly unrelated missions. It must have been written by the manatees.
This would be forgivable, or at least easy enough to look past, if the action was enjoyable. While it does have its moments, unfortunately overall it is repetitive and uninspired. The problems start with the gameís camera which is fixed in place and not always in the best place at that. Itís annoying to have enemies lurking just outside of view or to take hits from enemies just off-screen, but thatís just part of the problem. The fixed camera can make it difficult to see staircases or doorways in the backs of rooms or to distinguish the regular scenery from features that you need to jump onto or shimmy along. This leads endless circling, jumping, and bumping into things until you can find your way to the next area Ė and in a game this linear you have to find that one exit or you wonít go anywhere.
The action itself is a mix of bow, sword, and magic attacks. The bow uses an auto-targeting system that ensures that you never miss, and if you hold the fire button for a few seconds before releasing it youíll improve your aim and score one-hit kill shots. Thereís no need to even see your enemy as the game will let you know when youíre targeting an enemy thatís off screen. Each time you enter a new area you simply need to bring up your bow, hold down the fire button, and then release it to score a few kills before the enemies can even make it to the area.
The swordplay is controlled by two attack buttons which are combined into various attack combos. There are knockback, sweep, and similar moves that are supposed to be used at the right times for the appropriate enemies, but you need not bother with any of that. Thereís a jump/slam stun move that is basically unblockable, knocks shields from the hands of your enemies, and often puts foes flat on their backs. Not since the early days on online shooters have I done so much bunny hopping in a game. Want to know how to get through 90% of your battles? Bunny hop and slam the opponents around you until dead, run to the opposite side of the screen from the action, and then pull out your bow and kill off your enemies with head shots until someone wises up and charges you. This is especially easy since you play the game with a computer-controlled companion who can distract the enemies while you pick them off with your bow.