Movie games are a dime a dozen. It’s nothing new. These games have been shoveled out the door since E.T. hit theaters and the Atari 2600 gave us one of the worst games of all time. Sadly How to Train Your Dragon seems to be just more fodder for critics to denounce movie-based video games in general. The movie was released a couple weeks ago and had the power to knock Alice in Wonderland out of the number one spot, but we don’t think this game will be knocking any titles from the top spot of sales. Delivering the usual rushed feel that accompanies tie-in games, this one is more likely to put the kiddies to sleep than it is to entertain.
How to Train Your Dragon takes place on the Viking island of Berk. Historians beware; these aren’t the violent Norse warriors who dominated the high seas. What did you expect? It’s a kid’s game after all. You can play as either Astrid or Hiccup on the island where you take on boring task after boring task like fetching items. It’s all the usual gameplay mechanics we’ve become accustomed to in movie games where the developer throws in generic gameplay and skins it with characters and environments from the movie’s license.
While flying around the island of Berk you’ll get to the dog fights in the sky which take place in tournaments. But the camera is so annoying that even the tournaments aren’t fun. Add to that the tedium of flying back and forth to collect items and instead of a game with filler in between highlights, you have a game of nothing but filler.
How to Train Your Dragon looks okay visually, but as you would imagine, it won’t give any main stream AAA titles a run. The looks are basically adequate. I don’t think there’s any other way to describe this one. There’s not a lot of pop-in or drops in the frame rate. Everything is stable and fine, but never really goes beyond “fine”. The camera is a little annoying and can be cumbersome at times. Again, this is likely attributed to the rush to get this one out the door in time to coincide with the release of the movie.
Another issue is that I found on more than one occasion you’re met with loading screens out of nowhere when flying your dragon around to different areas of the island. In this age of gaming, there’s not a good excuse to have loading screens come up. It’s even more unforgiveable when you factor in that this game is so ho-hum in every way. With no limits being pushed, there’s no reason to have all these loads unless… there’s poor programming?
The game’s audio is just like the graphics and will be forgotten the moment you turn the game off. Voice-acting seems to be lifted from the movie and delivers the cheesy-ness you would expect from a game based on a kid’s movie. One glaring issue is the repetition during dog fights, or dragon fights in this case. You here the same one-liners and phrases over and over. The target audience may be children, but even they will get annoyed by this.
No one is going to call How to Train Your Dragon the worst game to hit consoles this year. That’s partially because this game is so forgettable that no one will be able to remember it when they’re making their “worst of” lists for 2010. With average graphics at best combined with repetitive audio and boring gameplay, How to Train Your Dragon will only entertain the youngest of movie fans that have very little understanding of video games. If you have a little one at home who just loved the movie, then you may have to rent this game. However no matter what, it is impossible to recommend buying this movie-tie in. Get the little one a stuffed dragon doll and some ice cream instead.