THE LEGEND OF SPYRO: DAWN OF THE DRAGON is one of the year's best, albeit occasionally flawed, platformers. Spyro, who debuted on the original PlayStation 10 years ago and will star in a 3-D feature film next year, is back with a compelling, nicely written story starring the voices of actors Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, and Gary Oldman. In the final installment of a game trilogy which began with A New Beginning, the bright purple reptile (Wood) and his gal pal Cynder (Ricci) try to stop Dark Master Malefor from making the world an utterly evil place.
The game wastes no time, starting out fast and furious. In an awesome, volcanic cavern you're thrown right into the action as you try to quell the fury of a giant lava monster. How giant? Spyro is about the size of half of the monster's thumb. Even adults will be timorous of the beast, especially if you see him on a big screen TV. As you play, Dawn of the Dragon introduces you to many new features, most of which are offered up during a tutorial that takes place during this beautifully rendered, perfectly acted first level. Sure, both Spryo and Cynder have light hits and heavy hits, via your controller buttons. But they're also in command of various elements (via the D-pad) like lightning, fire, shadows, wind, earth, and the like. You'll have to switch between Spyro and Cynder throughout the game, as the two have powers that help each other. And you can flap, fly, and glide around your environment pretty much when you want to.