Monday, December 27, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon (360)

12/25/10. Gameplay: 15-20min. 1 & 2 Players.

History with the Franchise:
This movie was awesome! I got this game since it was free. I’d already read reviews giving the game a 4 out of 10, so expectations were low. That being said, I’m always curious about ‘kids games’ and I figure there might be some hidden gems in there. Oh yeah, also I'm an animator, so I'm naturally a little more interested in a game like this. :)

What Happened?
Played the game for about 20min. Started with single player - learned about quests, the location of my dragon den and caring for my dragon, 1st unlocked leg of combat training, and where it is located. Stopped because it’s slow, and I didn’t have my memory card - the thought of having to repeat certain sections was unbearable, so I decided to wait. Played multiplayer for a handful of matches. Verified that it is unfair (whoever mashes most wins), and stopped playing. :)

What I Liked:
Graphics!... For the most part. When you’re walking around they’re sweet. When you’re in battle... see below.

Could choose between Hiccup and girl character! It always makes me happy when I can choose a girl. I ended up choosing Hiccup though... since he is the main character, after all. But it was a hard decision.

What I Didn’t Like:
SLOW: God-awful slow. Couldn’t skip through pretty much any text, and it was all displayed FOREVER. The worst was when I got to the part about feeding my dragon, it actually went through a whole animated menu of ‘select chicken.. choose chicken.. watch food meter fill... watch overall meter fill... select minerals... choose minerals... watch mineral meter fill... watch overall meter filll...” (2 more times). It actually made us laugh it was so ridiculous. If you feel the need to make something so obvious, at least give the option to skip (I feel bad for QA on this team).

Battling: Pretty much everything about battles felt off. The tutorial was odd, since the cadence is so irregular and unnatural. “Press X X X Y” was my task - It took some time to figure out that I needed to wait until the tail end of the first attack to press the next button, but the window is very slow. Also the moves all seem to be timed differently, so there seems to be no rhythm to how I press. Very odd. Also, dragons are very horizontal, so the camera needed to be far out, and the dragons occupied most of the screen. Something about color choice made them sort of blend into the backgrounds in weird ways and it felt hard to see. Also the animations were too long, and overly complex, so it felt hard to understand what was happening during attacks. In the end, I destroyed Issam several times by pressing X and Y a whole lot, and occassionaly using the right bumper (fire).

Mixed feelings:

Dragon customization. Seems weird, since my dragon is a set character... Maybe if I could customize my avatar also, or I was playing as a more minor character, customizing another dragon of the same type? It also doesn’t really make any sense in the context of the game. How can I unlock a different nose for my dragon, that I found in the wild... who is my friend?

How Do I Feel about Continuing:
Replaying the beginning on my own XBox will be a pain because I have to replay all of that dialogue, but 15min isn’t enough to go by so I feel the need to dive back in. Also I still think the graphics are pretty, and I’m hoping I get to wander around the world a lot.

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