Dragons aren’t merely awesome, fire-breathing behemoths. They can be faithful friends, too, who’ll help you out of the worst jam. That’s the message of the hit movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2.
|HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
Replay Value: 7.5
Overall Score: 7.5Pros: Five cool dragons; 2 player co-op; Explore Berk Island.
Cons: No online or story mode; Each dragon is similar in power; Exploration is limited.
You’ll witness some of that touching loyalty in the videogame version as well. But the emphasis is on the word some.
Let’s focus on the good stuff first. The folk music from the movie is awesome. It enhances your exploration of Berk Island as you search for achievements. And the graphics are pretty good. Yes, you’ll see some jaggies. But Berk Island is pretty and filled with forests and mountains. There’s something cool about flying through rock formations and even through pine trees. You’ll discover a cavern with fireflies, too.
While the island isn’t that wide, it’s high. So it’s fun to explore high up at the snowy top and the dive down fast. Each of five dragons you can fly comes with a long list of goals to accomplish. This will take you hours.
Racing through fiery hoops is a big part of the game. Generally, you control, say, Toothless, easily with the left stick. You press ‘A’ to accelerate and ‘B’ to slow down, and you use the right and left bumpers to make tight turns.
You can shoot powerful fireballs as you ride, too. These are especially important when aiming at Vikings in a timed, shooting gallery mode. Don’t shoot the female Vikings, though. You’ll get points taken away.
You can bring in one friend to play and that adds some excitement and competition. (They should have a allowed for four-player co-op, though.)
Remember the sheep that got so frightened by dragons in the movie? There’s a mode in which you can swoop down, collect the woolly animals and drop them in a designated, bullseye-like area.
It’s when you race against the four other dragons that things become frantic. You’ll collect power ups, like in Mario Kart, as you race through the blazing circles. One features an anchor that will slow another dragon down. You’ll acquire a shield, too.
NOT ENOUGH GAME
But, in How to Train Your Dragon 2, there’s just not enough there. To compare, look at the huge amount of game content you get in The Lego Movie game. You can play for days and days.
And while Dragon 2 focuses on racing, the racing could be better. The tutorial doesn’t explain how to slow down and brake, for instance. That’s so important in a game like this where precision is key to the experience, especially in getting through those blazing hoops.
The exploration mode for Berk Island seems, well, a little lonely. I didn’t see any Vikings to interact with. In fact, there were no Vikings even waving at me as I flew by. An island world without people is like an island world without soul.
Also, when you fly, the top and bottom parts of the screen are sometimes cut off by black bars. I guess the game makers wanted to create a rectangular, movie-theater experience. But the dragon’s face often gets chopped off, and there’s no way to turn the black bars off. Plus, you rarely see the dragon’s face (or the character’s face) when you fly. You see them as if you were flying behind them.
You can chalk up a lot of achievements (for the game, not Xbox Live achievements), too, for each dragon you choose. I completed a few of them, and one was as simple as flying for a time just above the waves. After doing these, I thought my dragon would somehow level up. But I saw no evidence of this. You just have the joy of having achieved, I guess.
It’d be great if that giant dragon, Drago’s Bewilderbeast, made an appearance, even in the background as something to be avoided during a race. But he’s nowhere to be found. There’s no story mode, either.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a decent enough game. But I’d wait for a sale to get it. Or just rent it. If it had more content, I’d feel differently.