Thursday, 10 July 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 - The Game

My immediate thoughts when I heard of the How to Train Your Dragon 2 video-game were of being able to essentially watch the movie but be in control of the characters. My main expectations were that the player would be able to fly the various dragons, race them and complete challenges.

These expectations were met. But sadly that's about it for the game. Unlike most movies turned games, HTTYD2 focuses on a small aspect of the movie which, as far as I've played, doesn't have any new movie-plot spoilers. All it says is that they've started the "Dragon Games" which is made up of 5 mini-games you play as part of tournaments at different levels. As you complete tournaments you level up your dragon and it's fairly challenging. Just incredibly repetitive.

Unfortunately there are more bad things I can say about the game than there are good. So, lets get started.

1- The graphics are lazy.
I don't mean just lazy for a game but for a game based on an computer-animated movie it just ruins the franchise! When you have a game based on a movie you expect the graphics to be dulled-down versions of the original, but we have seen what studios are capable with in these movies and when you have something computer-animated vs something computer-animated you're going to compare the two very harshly. Now I have to say that games need to be simplified compared to animated movies or they won't be able to work. Games cannot achieve movie-quality detail without freezing and buffering every 30 seconds. But this is ridiculous. It reminded me of the original Harry Potter game on Playstation1. That's how much it hurt to look at. This is not what I expect from a game on the same platform as The Last Of Us. I can excuse the fact that there's a 3DS version, you expect the graphics to be weaker for a smaller screen but for PlayStation it's just unbearable.

2- The animation is poor.
I realise there are only so many character animations you can put into a game but when Hiccup falls off Toothless mid-flight he phases through trees, rocks, cliffs and sometimes the entire map! This did not just happen once or twice, it was a frequent problem!

3- The voices are irritating. 
If I hear "Whoa bud!" or "Toothless, a little help here!" I will be forced to hide in a dark cave for the rest of eternity. Hiccup falls off Toothless a lot and he has about three lines of dialogue for this reaction. If this is Hiccup's way of punishing me for being a bad dragon-rider then he is a very cruel person.

4- The mini-games are repetitive. 
Once you've played them twice each, you're bored by them. They get harder as you progress but it doesn't change the fact that your tactics remain the same.

5- The controls are emotionally unstable. 
They can't seem to decide what level of pressure is needed to turn a corner, for example, so you do it lightly once and it's fine then use the same level of pressure again and fly straight into a wall. The speeds change constantly and aiming is a waste of time.

6- The camera is easily distracted. 
You can't control the camera yourself and it seems to constantly be interested in the direction opposite to where you want to go. This makes sharp turns deadly.

However, there are some good aspects of the game! For example the exploration of Berk is where the game is actually very fun. The collectibles are challenging to find and you get to find bonus quests! Also the soundtrack is beautiful, as it is in the films. As well as this, I have to say that the multiplayer function is actually quite well done. Player 2 can drop in and out mid-exploration and join in on tasks, they even have 3 specially designed multiplayer tasks which are surprisingly fun to play.

However, this is a game targeted at children. Which is a shame because it seems to have been made quite lazily. Children do notice when they're doing the same task on repeat, give them some credit please. It is a shame that the game was not aimed at a slightly higher age group for more of the game aspects because the films appeal to both children and adults! Families sit and watch the films together so wouldn't it be great if they could play this game together? Apparently not.

I have to say in general, this is not a good game. If it's really cheap and you want a few hours of fun, it'll do. But do not think of it as an investment. I personally prefer the free app-game Rise Of Berk, to this. At least there I don't have to listen to "Whoa bud!" everything minute.

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