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Eragon

The big screen adaptation of Chris Paolini's novel gets a videogame tie-in

Videogame adaptations of successful movies have been irreparably cursed ever since Atari buried over one million unsold ET Spectrum cartridges in a New Mexico landfill in 1982. But that hasn't stopped developers trying, and with Stormfront Studios getting full backing and co-operation from the film's production team, Eragon is shaping up to be as successful as the book that spawned it.

The fantastical premise of the novel, the trials of a young farm hand who discovers a Dragon hatchling and therein his destiny to topple an evil King, might sound like a bog-standard fantasy plot, but basing its source material on a best-selling novel promises a strong narrative structure - even if that material mixes a Harry Potter coming- of-age tale with the grand scale of Tolkien's Lord of The Rings trilogy.

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This setup means that Eragon's trials are firmly set in action-adventure territory as you control him through combat-driven levels against a variety of wily foes. Each level promises to offer a degree of exploration via alternative paths while role-playing game elements include an expanding attack-move list and ever-increasing spell-casting abilities that Eragon learns as he moves through the game.

There's also the promise that the entire quest can be played co-operatively with a friend, as Eragon will be aided on his quest to become a fully fledged Dragon Rider by characters including storyteller Brom and his friend Murtagh. Though how two players decide who gets to ride Saphira the Dragon during the flying stages remains to be seen. The Dragon hatchling quickly grows into the sky-diving, fire-breathing behemoth Saphira, who you'll fly through a number of on-rails levels blasting airborne enemies and performing aerial manoeuvres that'll surely have your stomach churning.

Anyone who has played Sega's Panzer Dragoon series - featuring exciting and tortuous flying sections and challenging combat - will know what to expect.

With another novel in the Eragon series already published, a franchise of Harry Potter-like proportions is blooming. But whether Eragon the videogame soars or crashes and burns will be decided come its release this Christmas. We'll have the popcorn ready in preparation.

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