Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon Review - January 13

Spyro the Dragon has had some ups and downs over the years, more recently it has been on the downs with this new revamped trilogy not really taking hold as the games of old did. Does DoD change all that?

Dawn of the Dragon begins with our hero frozen in a yellow crystal, along with villain-turned-hero Cynder, continuing from the last game. The two dragons with Sprax, Spyro's best friend, are broken free from their crystal cell by a group of unknown creatures that place a strange necklace around Spyro and Cynder's necks. The creatures then take both dragons away with them leaving Sparx in the hands of Hunter of Avalon who was watching the events from the shadows. Upon meeting up with Sparx and Hunter it is shown that three years have passed since the last game and that change is visible on the young dragons. We also see that the evil dragon Malefor has spread darkness across the land, leading Spyro and company to a desperate fight to save the world from the darkness that is seeking to engulf it.

As Spyro and Cynder are linked together the game takes on a co-op role, with the two players controlling the dragons or a computer AI controlling one and a single player controlling the other. This does change the way in which the game plays out from the rest of the series so far and adds a little to the complexity of the game's puzzles. Speaking of the puzzles they are very much character sensitive but also at times requiring both characters in play. The puzzles aren't anything above average but do offer something to break up the platforming and combat routine. More over the problem with the linked characters comes into play if you are in two-player co-op mode as the game's screen cannot handle either player pulling off to an opposite side of the screen. More than once have I encountered that as I moved off from my fellow player the camera didn't know what to do with itself and proceed to tear apart.

The game does look stunning on occasion.

But there is plenty of solid gameplay to be had here, as i mentioned the puzzling is solid enough to allow for players to feel quite satisfied with completing some of the more complex puzzles. As expected from a Spyro game the platforming is spot on and the new addition of free-form flying has changed things dramatically. Having the ability to fly anywhere you wish to and explore the lands in a sandbox fashion has meant that Spyro hasn't just grown up in his character but also in scale. There is large amount of freedom in just flying about the lands trying to find the variety of hidden objects that can be found in each level of the game.

In this part of the trilogy Spyro does start with his powers intact, so you can access the amazingly cool Purple Dragon elements from the off. But each of the elements have an RPG style upgrade section, allowing you to upgrade their effectiveness and also unlock new moves depending on what element you have selected. This comes out really well, you gather points from collecting crystals, which are collected from defeating enemies, then at any point you distribute the points across the four elements. The only thing that did make it a pain was the lack of an auto-level button that meant that you had to add the points yourself, which can be time consuming.

Spyro is back, but struggling to make an impact.

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