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Eragon - Review

by Steven Williamson on 19 December 2006, 08:50

Tags: Vivendi Game Eragon for Xbox 360, Vivendi Universal Interactive (NYSE:VIV), Action/Adventure

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qahj4

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Hack 'n slash your way through dozens of enemies

The fighting segments would have been far more entertaining if there was a levelling up system in which you could assign points to the three methods of combat - hand to hand, bow and arrow and magic - but as it stands the game just feels as though it's missing a core element of the gameplay and thus makes the continuous fighting a chore.

In Eragon, you have numerous combos at your fingertips, such as the stun attack, grapple combo and a knockdown smash, but the hack 'n slash controls simply involve pressing the 'O' and/or 'X' buttons. There are some decent set moves that you can pull off, but you can quite as easily bash the buttons as fast as possible to take out the enemies, meaning that you don't really need to use much skill in most of the fighting segments. However, if you do take the time to learn the combos - for example use a grapple combo correctly - then you can execute a number of finishing moves, such as jumping on the back of a giant Kull or plunging a sword through the chest of an enemy. The camera will zoom in and you'll witness a slow-motion animation of your finishing move. The finishing moves are a welcome addition and give Eragon that movie feel, but after a short while the moves become repetitive on the eye and aid in slowing down the already monotonous process of seeing off the mass of enemies that you'll encounter.

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Aside to slicing through the deluge of enemies, Eragon has his trusty bow that allows him to take out enemies from a distance. The bow aims automatically at the nearest enemy and by moving the right thumbstick you can switch between foes. The longer you hold down the X button the more accurate the shot will be; you'll normally take foe out with one decent headshot. The mixture of ranged combat, hand to hand combat and magic means that you do occasionally have to think about whether you should stick a sword in the stomach of the half a dozen guards who are approaching or whether to take out the guards who are firing from a far off bridge; but once again there is no reward for doing this other than to progress through the game. Levelling up in each attribute would encourage you to mix and match your fighting techniques and although Eragon does encourage you to use them all in certain sequences, the majority of ground combat can be won by pressing 'O' and 'X' in any way you see fit.

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Using magic can be visually entertaining, but using your powers to solve puzzles is far too easy thanks to the handy blue symbols that indicate where it can be used. You can interact with objects in the environment to give you access to otherwise unreachable places. For example, you can hold L1 and X down at the same time for a short length of time to bring floorboards crashing down on top of enemies or use your telekinesis to levitate some planks of wood in order to build some steps up the floor above, but the puzzles in Eragon are simple to solve because of these blue markers. The linear nature of the game and restrictions on the places you can explore mean that you'll whizz through these mental challenges with little thought; even adding an option to remove the markers would have meant the game would be far more challenging, but as it stands the puzzles aren't really puzzles at all.