The easiest way to explain what's wrong with Eragon is to compare it with Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (reviewed over on page 102, look), for the two games share quite a lot in common. Firstly, they both feature battle systems no more complicated than your average My Family gag. Second, they're both heavily reliant on cut-scenes as the dangling carrot that'll allow players to forgive the jarring spurs of their shortcomings and steer them home to the finishing line. And, third, and let's be honest here, they both exist primarily as licensed cash cows, rather than as innovative products of cultural worth.
But none of the above are necessarily bad things. At least not in the case of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, which fulfils its purpose in life well enough, at least as far as the fans are concerned. Not every game can be a blockbuster, after all. But Eragon proves beyond reasonable doubt that even the act of being lazy should require just a little effort.
Eragon is duller than a Cliff Richard/Dido Christmas collaboration and more plodding than PC Plod of Ploddington. While the combat in Ultimate Alliance features several nuances that allow some room for skill and depth to creep in, the interminable, repetitive battles in Eragon constrain you as if they were a giant bumhole engulfing your head in a vice-like grip and letting off one big, long, repetitive guff that lasts for seven hours.
Admittedly, Marvel has much the better source material to draw from, but Eragon is a land of magic and faeries and goblins and dragons the size of buses, so you'd expect more to be made of the movie's hocus-pocus than the ability to shove ogres into fires and to build pre-determined bridges by holding down a like an obedient lemon.
The monotony is broken up by a number of dragon-flying segments, although we suspect neither Panzer Dragoon nor the PS3's Lair will be cacking their panties at the sight of it. Regardless, they are a welcome break from the endless hacking and slashing that makes Eragon such a bore to play.
Ultimately though, it's the fixed camera that really smites Eragon. It turns something inoffensively sterile into something quite worthy of a hate campaign. You can never quite see where you're going. You can never quite see what you're supposed to do. You can never quite make out if what you're hitting is friend or foe. After a while, tunnelvision sets in, and your eyes can only see one thing: the off switch.
Decent visuals and voice-acting are marred by play that burns itself out faster than a dragon with hiccups.
- Visually very nice indeed
- Clumsy and oafish to control
- A crap cash-in by numbers