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Spyro 2
"Takes up where the original Spyro left off... only it ups the ante !" Image Loading...
Developer: Insomniac
Distributor: Sony
Game Type: 3D Platform
Review Date: Nov 99
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Setting the Scene:
      After defeating Gnasty Gnorc and restoring all of the dragons in his home world, Spyro and his trusty sidekick Sparx the dragonfly decide it's time to take a well-deserved vacation. After some deliberation Spyro decides that Dragon Shores would be the best place to kick back and relax for a bit.

Now it's at about the same time that Spyro is getting ready to depart to his vacation site that we cut to another place…

Image Loading...It seems that the world's of Avalar have just recently been invaded by some dino-riding dude named Ripto. It appears that a man known only as the Professor managed (with the use of special green orbs), to create portals that allowed space-travel between planets. Unfortunately, while testing his new invention, the Professor inadvertently managed to suck Ripto and a pair of his "baddies" into the lands of Avalar. Fearing that he would put the portal machine to evil use, the Professor quickly removed the orbs and scattered them far and wide.

Further investigations revealed that Riptos weakness was his deathly fear of dragons. So with the aid of his friends, Elora and Hunter the Cheetah, the Professor decides to search the galaxy for the closet world that contains dragons.

Image Loading...Well of course this world just happens to be the one that good old Spyro is on and just as he is leaving for vacation the Professor snags him and Sparx, zapping them back to Avalar through one of the functioning portals.

Not one to shrug off a challenge, Spyro and Sparx decide to help the worlds of Avalar to rid the land of Ripto and his vile henchmen forever. So get set to help our favorite little dragon on a quest that will take him to the three worlds of Avalar and the many (MANY!) realms that are contained therein.
Sound and Vision:
      I had always thought that the original Spyro the Dragon game set the high water mark for graphics on the Playstation and I guess for that time I was mostly right. With its high quality textures, software anti-aliasing and sweet character models, the original Spyro was a thing of beauty and achieved what I figured would be the pinnacle of graphical depiction for the console in a game of this type. Well time passes, developers continue to reach further into their magical bag of tricks and low and behold the next Spyro game manages to match or outdo the original in virtually every graphical category. Will surprises never end?

Image Loading...Spyro 2 takes all of the wonderful eye-candy that made the original so breathtaking and manages to squeeze another pint of graphical blood from the little gray box. The characters in Spyro still retain their original freshness and beauty but now there are additional textures added to help smooth things a bit further and add even more "life" to the models.

Lighting effects are used in abundance throughout the game so much so that I could not possibly give you all of the examples. I will say though that I never expected to see so many simultaneous effects going on at one time in a Playstation game. Each realm that you visit is virtually alive with glittering effects and animation. Fires exhibit a warm glow, sphere's radiate an eerie light and metal surfaces glisten in the sunlight… It is mind-blowing to think how far games have come on our console.

Even subtle effects like leaves falling from trees, gently spiraling to the ground as you walk through the land will bring a smile to a graphics-whore's face. The game is chock full of these little details that successfully make Avalar seem like a real living, breathing universe.

Image Loading...Pop-up in the game is virtually non-existent with gamers being afforded a nice view into the horizon. As you walk, objects gradually appear as if through a slight haze but you never see whole landscapes suddenly drawn in…again, the effect is nice and subtle. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that there is no know, that nasty little effect that you get in games of this type when you walk too close to walls and you are treated to a black, empty screen on the other side. Everything is nice and solid now and the collision detection is flawless. Hell, even the camera tracks your position effortlessly…there was never a time when I wasn't in the optimal viewing position during the game.

About the only thing that I can possibly nit-pick about this game as far as the graphics go is that there appeared to be a teeny bit of slowdown during one of boss showdowns…namely the sequence when you are challenged to defeat Crush. While it certainly didn't detract from the gameplay, it was apparent non-the-less and forced me to re-adjust a bit in order to kick his butt.

Image Loading...Now lets turn our attention to the music and sound effects of Spyro 2. Back once again for a return engagement is musical prodigy Stewart Copeland. After writing the fantastic score for the original Spyro, I doubted if Mr. Copeland could actually top himself with this game. It didn't take much time playing the game to realise that the soundtrack for Spyro 2 easily surpasses the first one. Tunes just seem to fit better with the levels and upon further investigation it all made sense. It seems that on the original Spyro Mr. Copeland developed most of the soundtrack with the aid of storyboards, with very little of the actual game being used as his creative force. With Spyro 2, Stewart was able to see each level and create music that he felt specifically fit each environment. The results are outstanding and enable the tunes to melt seamlessly into the gameplay.

The sound effects are truly awesome as well, with sounds matching perfectly with the on-screen antics. There is also a great deal of ambient or background sounds going on all around you that further plunge gamers into this whimsical world. About the only thing that I found lacking from the original game is the absence of vocals when you are talking to main characters. In the first title each dragon that you met had a distinctive voice and would explain things to the gamer vocally. In Spyro 2 we get treated to long text written explanations instead of voice coaching. I suppose the reason for this is the fact that there is now so many characters to speak with, it would have taken forever to add in the vocals on top of everything else. For this reason I can excuse this minor omission but it would have been nice had it been included.

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