Developer: Torus Games
Review Platform: Xbox 360
Review Copy Provided By: LittleOrbit
Release Date: June 20, 2014
Though I have yet to see How to Train Your Dragon 2, I have heard nothing but good things about it. From what I understand, it perfectly balances a deep, impactful story, with wondrous charm, and I think there may be a few dragons. While How to Train Your Dragon 2: The Video Game has plenty of dragons, there isn’t a whole lot else.
Do you want an engrossing story? Well you won’t get that here. In fact, there isn’t one inkling of an actual plot. The basics are: You fly around the over-world island, complete practice games, and compete in tournaments. Rinse and repeat until forever. From what I could tell, there wasn’t much of an ending, but that could be because there isn’t a story to speak of.
Dragons rule, it is really as simple as that. If there are dragons, I will probably find something to enjoy, and this reigns true for How to Train Your Dragon 2: The Video Game. Flying around the island is extremely fun, and I spent a good few hours just cruising on the back of my dragon. Unfortunately, the fun I found flying on the island was a product of my own mind, rather than an abundance of interesting things to do. There are only a few activities you can do to interact with the over-world, such as finding view points, and collecting coins. Don’t get me wrong, flying to the very top of the world, and dive-bombing to earth is great fun, but not for very long.
If flying around is not your thing, too bad. You can’t get off your dragon at any point, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, but the “Missions” they have you do while flying are simply atrocious. There are four distinct mini-games in practice mode. One has you flying through as many rings in a set time, another is a time trial ring game in the vein of Superman 64, though this game implements it much more successfully. There is one where you must collect sheep and drop them off in their pens, and last and certainly least, there is a rail shooter portion. If they sound tedious and boring, that’s because they are. At best they are mediocre, and at worst, sloppy.
The shooting on the on-rail shooter portion is floaty beyond belief, and you will soon learn from the other games that precise navigation is not this title’s strong suit. The camera consistently gets lost, and I often found my dragon halfway off screen. The dragon also has the tendency to do a dive-bomb randomly, and there is no accurate method to get it to stop.
The tournaments are held when you have completed a set number of training games. These events consist of five separate games, and you compete against four computer controlled opponents. While the tournaments actually break up the standard formula of training games, it is mostly just lazy combinations of the previous games such as, “sheep collecting with rings”. Sounds riveting right? No, not at all. The worst part is, you get these Mario Kart styled power ups, but they never explain what they do. You just get an obscure symbol on the corner of your screen, and when you activate it, either some bizarre object will float around you, or your character will do an attack.
The dragon to dragon combat is also really unfinished. Launching fireballs at opponents is similar to the on-rail shooting portions in terms of floaty controls. Melee combat is even worse. The attacking dragon just does a small lunge, and even if it doesn’t physically hit your dragon, you could still get knocked off. That is another problem, a few times throughout the game, my rider fell off the dragon out of nowhere. I did not get hit by an enemy, or crash into the ground, but I flew from my dragon nonetheless.
The very minimal amount of voice work done here is very annoying. It’s not that the voice acting is particularly bad, but characters just repeat the same five lines of dialogue over and over again. However, the soundtrack is simply phenomenal. Every piece of music, creates a perfect “Viking” atmosphere, and it adds this vast feeling to the world. This was no doubt inspired, or taken directly from the movie itself.
Visually this game looks decent enough when in movement. Most animations are clean, and I buy the fact that I am riding a dragon. It’s just when things slowdown that I begin to notice a few issues. Generally the game looks like a very early Xbox 360 game, and everything, with the exception of the dragons themselves, are flat and bland.
How to Train Your Dragon 2: The Video Game is not a good game, in fact, I don’t even think it’s a finished game. For 40$ you are basically paying for four uninspired, and dreadfully boring mini-games. On top of that, there are control issues, lack of central story, and lackluster visuals. Flying around as a dragon was good enough fun, especially when accompanied by the fantastic score, but that is this game’s sole redeeming quality, and that’s not enough.