The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while this is a delightful game that's a cinematic experience, it can be frightening to younger kids or more sensitive kids who are 10 and under. Although good triumphs over evil, the monsters may even scare some adults. This is a review of the Xbox 360 version.
What's it about?
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.
Is it any good?
The game isn't a completely open environment. So you can't fly anywhere you like. Want to check out a waterfall in the depths of a cavern? It's like there's an invisible fence preventing you from doing so. And, early on, while you can look around by using the right control stick, it's like you have a stiff neck: you can't look at anything in a full 360 degrees, not even a full 180 degrees. (This changes in the second level, where you can look around a full 180 degrees.) And sometimes, when switching between gameplay and a canned scene, your screen will become black for a split second, an egregious error of design.
You can't save your game at will, but there are enough save points interspersed throughout to make most gamers happy. While there's no online component to the game, there is two-player coop. A second player can drop-in or drop-out at any time, kind of a handy feature. But the true brilliance of Dawn of the Dragon is the mix of a taut, Hollywood-movie-like tale, fine actors, and, most importantly, exciting gameplay. You'll feel like you can fly like a dragon. You'll scale walls by using the vines that have grown there, then jump from vine to vine when the wall separates the two. You'll see elements of the recent Prince of Persia and God of War games, both great games to use as inspiration. And your jaw will drop, full of joy and wonder.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about who you would like to partner with to fight evil in the world. Which of Spyro's and Cynder's abilities would you choose to use to defeat the evildoers? If you had the powers of fire, lightning, and shadows, what would be the first good thing you would do for your community and society as a whole?