Spyro A New Beginning
Review of Spyro A New Beginning
It seems like just yesterday that we were first introduced to Spyro on the original PlayStation in the relatively- new (at the time) free-roaming platformer genre.The simple controls and bright graphics made this one of the more kid- friendly series out there.
Once we got to the PS2, however, Spyro changed hands from Insomniac to Traveller's Tales and the game series fell into mediocrity. Universal Games felt the series still had some life to it and decided to reboot the character with another new developer (Krome Studios) and retell the origins of Spyro. That brings us to this game, The Legend Of Spyro: A New Beginning.
A New Beginning is, as mentioned, a free-roaming platformer game with some combat mixed in. We start with the Dragon Kingdom under attack and Ignitus (a rather large red dragon) guarding the dragon eggs, including one particular purple egg. As the unseen enemy is breaking through he has no choice but to flee and put the egg into hiding by sending it down a river. The egg is eventually discovered by a family of fireflies and Spyro is taken in as one of their own.
The years pass and during a game of chase with his best friend Sparx Spyro discovers his fire-breathing abilities. Realizing he is more than he seemed he and Sparx head out to discover his true origins. It turns out that Spyro is a special dragon that can harness all four elements of the earth (earth, fire, ice, electricity) which is born only once every 10 generations.
Ignitus tells him of his journey and also of Cinder, the dragon that turned her back on her own kind and is responsible for everything that is happening. It is now up to Spyro to rescue other dragons being held prisoner and stop her.
The game is set up somewhat similar to previous games with the exception of the level hubs- things are much more linear this time around. Players will see several meters in the top left corner showing levels of health, breath power and a special guage that allows the use of an extra powerful attack when filled. Some will recall one of the main objectives in previous games was the gem collecting. This has returned but now serves an actual purpose besides getting a percentage- the different colors each refill the guages (green for life, red for breath and purple for the special meter). These gems are easily found by defeating enemies and destroying various glowing rocks found through the levels.
Combat has been beefed up a bit- gone is the simple tail swipe for attacking enemies. Instead, Spyro has a melee attack which allows for combos such as throwing enemies into the air then jumping up to meet him and pummel him in mid-air. Breath atacks start with a basic flame and fireball but as you progress eventually the attacks for lightning, ice and earth will be found. All of these can be upgraded using energy collected by defeating enemies in the pause menu. As you obtain each new ability you will get some training on the various ways to use it when returning to the Dragon Kingdom by the dragon that personifies that ability. Some of these can get a bit frustrating but can be beat with a bit of effort. Unfortunately there is no skipping these training sessions to get back to the main game.
The difficulty level is not overly hard, making this game more suitable for younger gamers. Some enemies do take more of a beating than others and is shown using meters in the top right corner, a pleasant change from the old 3-hit enemies of old. The eventual boss battles can run a bit long with some having 3 stages to defeat. If you have difficulty with one it's not so bad- when you lose a life you are brought back to the exact place with meters filled and the enemies will be just as they were as well. One problem comes from the camera which sometimes can go into odd angles at the worst time, making it hard to see where attacks are coming from.
The controls are easy to learn with one button assigned for the various actions. Movement is mapped to the left analog stick and the right stick can control the camera. If things are getting a bit too skewed a quick tap of the L1 button wil bring the camera back behind the hero. It's a good thing they kept it simple here as things can get somewhat hectic when being attacked by groups of 7 or more enemies at once.
Graphically the game is very well done. Some areas have a lot of things happening between scenery and enemy movement yet not once was there any slowdown. Some of the effects such as the explosions are especially nice.
No expense was spared in the sound department either. Several big-name talents were brought in including Elijah Wood as the main character, comedian David Spade as Sparx and Gary Oldman as Spyro's mentor Ignitus. Oldman is probably best known as Sirius Black from the Harry Potter movies. All of the voices are suited well with the exception of Spade as Sparx- he comes off as too annoying for my liking and maybe would have been better suited to another actor. Some of the inflection in the voices aren't quite right either, making it apparent the actors were not together while recording the segments. The music is an orchestral soundtrack which suits the game well but the tunes will not be memorable. The sound effects are good but can be repetitive after a bit- thankfully these can be adjusted to taste.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Spyro A New Beginning' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Lyndon McLeod © Absolute PlayStation
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