Ah, Spyro the Dragon… Back many a year ago, Spyro the dragon was first released on the original Playstation. Sporting a rather good graphic engine for the time, entertaining voice acting, and an overall fun game, it was a success on the system that spawned two sequels.
It’s unfortunate that they completely screw up the series on the Playstation 2.
First off, let me be blunt – Spyro looks rather good in his latest incarnation. Sporting a much higher level of detail than he ever did, the game makes good use of the PS2 hardware. Little effects like water rippling beneath your feet is visible as well, making this a good looking game.
Seeing the game in motion however is a completely different story however. Either this game needed another 3 months in development or the folks over at Universal have absolutely no idea how to program their games. To put it nicely, the frame rate flies up and down more often than your average rollercoaster. You’ll be looking at 60fps when there isn’t much of anything on the screen, and 15 (that’s right, 15) frames per second when the game gets busy. In this day and age this is absolutely unacceptable. I know that the PS2 can handle games of this detail (look at Ratchet and Clank for example), so it isn’t that, so I blame the developer.
One thing that always emphasized the Spyro series was the music and voices. Once again the original cast and crew of Spyro provide their vocal support to give life to these characters, and once again they do a rather good job, but not as well as in previous games. Some of the voices seem strained at times, and they just don’t sound right from time to time as well. If this is a fault of the game or of my surround setup I’m not quite sure, but something doesn’t seem right.
The music is once again the same entertaining little ditty that follows well with the lightheartedness of the series. It’s nothing new, and you won’t remember it once you finish the game, but it’s nothing to complain about either.
For the most part nothing has been changed about the controls from previous titles in the Spyro series. The controls were perfect for the title, so they didn’t need to change them at all.
Short of one thing anyway. This time around instead of using the L and R buttons up top to manually control the camera you’re forced to use the right analog stick to move it around. While it gives you more control over the camera, it is a pain in the rear to use. In the old games, you could run, jump, and then breathe fire all while turning the camera around to whatever angle you needed it to be at. This time around, you can either adjust the camera or do the above, not both at the same time. You’ll get over it eventually, but changing this little thing around greatly hurt the ease of the game.
Also due to the rapidly changing framerate (see Graphics above), controlling Spyro is not all that easy anymore due to some minor input lag. You’ll once again get used to it, but it’s yet another problem with this game.
Once again you’ll have the same simplistic gameplay that has been there throughout the series – run around and collect gems while smashing or killing everything in your way. It’s nothing to write home about, but the series has always been this way, so why change it around?
Unfortunately they did. And like all the other changes from before, it hurts the game. Your overall goal is to collect Dragonflies. While some of these Dragonflies are perfectly happy to be caught, others fly around forcing you to chase them while trying to capture them with your bubble breath (which is only used to capture these things). Not only does this bubble breath have an absurdly short range, but once again due to the frame rate issues, catching these things is a pain in the rear.
Another problem worth noting is the absurd loading times in the game. Each and every level requires you sit at a 30 to 45 second ‘Now Loading’ screen. You read that right – 30 to 45 seconds. The worst part is that every stage has one or two bonus areas, each that require the lengthy loading time to get into and out of. Needless to say you’ll be spending a ton of time looking at that boring screen.
One last thing – while I did not finish this game (a first for me), the final straw I ran into this terrible title was that after a few hours of playing, the game completely crashed. At this point I realized that this game was nothing but a total joke.This game is not worth your $50 in its current condition. Severe frame rate issues, questionable gameplay changes, terrible loading times, and an overall feeling that the developers just didn’t give a darn make this game worth $20 at best. If you insist on playing this piece of junk, either wait for it to hit the bargain bin after 2 months or go rent the game at your local rental chain.