The book Eragon is famous mostly because it was written by a 15-year-old. The movie version, released to nearly unanimous poor reviews, shows why you shouldn’t make movies based on books by 15-year-olds. And the game version of Eragon demonstrates that you shouldn’t make games based on movies based on books by 15-year-olds.

Eragon tells the tale of a young boy who discovers that he’s a dragon rider and can lead his people to victory over the evil John Malkovich. No cliché is left untouched, from the wise old man who shows him the way to the feisty girl who draws his attention to the whole “getting revenge for the bad guy killing my uncle†part. In other words, it’s exactly the kind of story a 15-year-old would write.

1_1Strangely enough, this puts it on par with most fiction created for videogames. But the problems with Eragon the game have nothing to do with the source material and everything to do with its dull and overly rigid gameplay. If you want a prototype of a “game on rails,†here you go. You’re led down very narrow paths, fighting lots of bad guys. Between battles, you get to watch some aesthetically interesting (albeit low-budget) cutscenes that do little other than confuse. You have little idea what’s going on, but it really doesn’t matter, as you’re always moving in one predetermined direction.

There is no decision making. Every “puzzle†is presented with its solution. “Eragon, use your magic,†the Jeremy Irons sound-alike tells you. An occasional poorly controlling level where you fly your dragon does little to break the monotony. The combat is simple button-mashing that’s only challenging because you have no control of your camera and often no idea whom you’re attacking. The game is designed for a gamepad: Playing it with the mouse and keyboard works, but you lack that whole “mouse†interface. (It requires both hands on the keyboard and has a layout only a WordPerfect user could love.)

It’s also worth noting that, despite the movie’s PG rating, the game’s Eragon spends all his time chopping people into bits, setting them on fire, breaking their backs, and impaling them while they’re lying helpless on the ground. It makes a mockery of its Teen rating. That’s a lot more offensive than its dull, overly simplistic, and routine movie-tie-in-style gameplay, for sure.

System Requirements: Pentium IV 2 GHz, 256 MB RAM, WinXP

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