Review by lilithdarkstorm

"More like the Eternally PAINFUL night..."

Let me paint you a picture; you've just re-loaded from a checkpoint for what seems like the millionth time. You check your ‘upgrade' screen; all breath powers are good to go, you check your health/magic bars, full up to the brim. Now you are ready to take on the enemy! You climb up the hill for the nth time and kill 2 warthogs that come charging at you. You continue upwards to kill 3 apes and 2 more hogs; you manage to survive (barely). Now at the top of the hill, ready to face the 9 apes that attacked you relentlessly and killed you before, you manage (with a bit of luck) to come out of the battle, this time a winner. Just when you think it's time for another check point, or at least a breather from the enemies, no, another dozen apes come flying in from nowhere. Along with their ‘daddy', a huge ape that, with previous experience, you know can kill a fully healed Spyro in 2 hits. With no means of healing yourself or re-filling your magic, the apes destroy Spyro in a matter of seconds. You are revived to the spot you started at (again) and Sparx suddenly says; “Hey, try to not to die again!”. With high blood pressure, built up anger and being completely frustrated, the only logical response is to shout at the TV screen and say; “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK I'VE BEEN DOING FOR THE PAST 2 HOURS?!”

The Eternal Night is the sequel to the first Legend of Spyro title; A New Beginning. The trilogy is meant to revise the character of Spyro; from a cute child-friendly dragon to an action hero to save the world from damnation. The new games were met with mixed reaction; from fans they cried out for the old Spyro while game reviewers welcomed the new change of game play. Though I loved Spyro since he was introduced on the Playstation and I hold the games quite highly today, the formula of gem collecting and cheesy cartoon-ish baddies was starting to wear thin by the time he came to the PS2. When ‘A New Beginning' was released I was hesitant, missing the lovable innocent dragon, but I after playing I thought the first instalment in the Legend of Spyro was quite enjoyable. Nothing ground breaking but I'd hoped that this game would be the starting platform onto something greater. I eagerly waited for the sequel, I added The Eternal Night onto my Christmas list, I insert the disc in my PS2, and by the end of it I was ready to smash it into tiny pieces!

The Eternal Night picks up directly where A New Beginning ends; Spyro has lost all of his powers after the battle with Cynder and stopping the Dark Master from resurrecting. But The Dark Master isn't about to give up yet, as the Ape King has his eyes set on ‘The Well of Souls' and plans to resurrect him on the night of Eternal Darkness. Can Spyro regain his powers in time to stop the ape king?

The controls are a direct copy as the previous installment; jump, glide and attacks are allocated to the same buttons. The game relies heavily on combat to complete the game, you have a choice of either melee attacks or a choice of 4 elemental breaths; fire, ice, electricity and earth. However unlike the previous game, the elemental attacks have undergone a small change; including new variations and moves to use for each element. For example Spyro can now turn into an electric whirlwind or unleash an ‘earth bubble' that can send the enemies flying, or Spyro can perform an ice-effused tail whip that temporarily slows down enemies. Apart from that, combat is the same as before, it still dominates the game and gets boring after a while but finding new ways to dispose of enemies is somewhat fun and creative for the first hour or so.

Or, if the elementals aren't enough for you, The Eternal Night introduces a new ability for our purple friend, ‘Dragon Time'. It's basically the now over-used ‘bullet time' ability, after pressing the button to activate it you have a limited time in which the world around Spyro slows down considerably. This ability is mainly to help Spyro progress in the game by slowing down fast platforms that he has to reach, but it also helps as back up in some boss battles and enemy encounters.

Despite the controls being lifted from A New Beginning a problem has somehow generated from development; Spyro can perform a ‘double jump' just like before, which helps Spyro glide from a greater height. However the space you get to press the appropriate button twice in order to active it is very small. After pressing once, you have not even a second to react and press again; otherwise Spyro will start to glide at a lower height, often resulting in not reaching the platform required and dying. Once the problem is picked up you learn to compensate for it but it's extremely frustrating when you'd rather be concentrating on playing and having fun, rather than what's going on with the buttons!

Like the prequel, Spyro cannot increase his increase health or magic throughout the game, but you can power up Spyro's breath abilities via the upgrade menu which uses blue gems picked up from enemies and crystals. Blue gems are harder to come by as they are hidden for most of the game and are not always given when enemies are defeated; therefore increasing Spyro's breath powers is not as easy as the previous game, often leaving a weak Spyro up against much stronger enemies.

The graphics have not improved since A New Beginning, at all. Sure some of Spyro's fury attacks and moves are performed in another way so they now look different but in no way does this game push the PS2's boundaries. The character designs and level layouts have been reused and the colour palette is the same as the previous installment. Considering now that the PS2 is at the end of its life cycle, Krome Studios were incredibly lazy in this department.

Like pretty much everything else from this title, the music score recycles many tracks from the first game. A few new ones have been composed (such as the sweeping out-of-place ballad sung during the credits) but there's nothing there that will stick with you and it doesn't bring anything to the game. If The Eternal Night was silent throughout, you probably wouldn't notice the difference. The sound effects are used again from A New Beginning, but are clear enough and do the job required.

Elijah Wood and Gary Oldman return to reprise their roles of Spyro and Ignitus respectively, also Billy West (voice of Fry in Futurama) and Martin Jarvis join the cast, despite being ‘big name actors' they don't live up to their fame. It's quite clear that the actors had little direction; several times I'm sure that a particular line in the script was meant to be sarcastic, yet Elijah Wood says the line in an upbeat friendly tone, and several lines in the script were placed in the incorrect order during the game. Compared to their performances in the previous adventure the actors were obviously not warming up to this instalment, to be fair though, the script wasn't exactly a piece of art.

Most of the frustration from this game comes from is the ridiculous difficulty level. Sure, the puzzles and concept is very easy to grasp and combat is basically button bashing, that's not the problem. The problem lies with the battles themselves and that the unforgiving controls can lead to so many deaths! I cannot begin to count how many times Spyro was absurdly outnumbered in battle, or had to face bosses that were capable of killing Spyro in literally 2 hits! It's just unbelievable; it's almost like Krome Studios at first intended for Spyro to be ultra powerful and have all his powers from the first game, therefore having enemy's ultra powerful too. But then changed their minds about Spyro towards the end of development and forgot to power down the baddies! The situation explained in my opening paragraph is one in many, due to this, player's will most likely abuse “Dragon Time” to stay alive or pray that they'll get enough fury gems to perform the ultra powerful attack and finish the battle quickly. To add insult to injury, Spyro can be harmed while being flung across the fielded by the previous enemy's attack, while enemies become invincible when they are knocked down, only to get back up again with increased health. Not fair in any way!

This is not helped with the lack of check points. In the previous game, when Spyro died, it restarted the player in the section he happened to have died in. This helped with some of the tougher baddies as Spyro was able simply to tackle them straight away instead of ploughing through the level leading up to them. However in The Eternal Night, check points are few and far between, combining with unfair battles and fragile controls can lead players to repeat the same sections many times over. Another annoyance is certain check points occur just before a cut scene, if you happen to die you have to watch the cut scene AGAIN! It gives no option to skip so you end up watching the same scene over and over again! It's completely unnecessary and ridiculous.
I've played computer games for a very long time, sure some titles are quite difficult and yet are still enjoyable, and no game should be completely dismissed due to difficulty. However when the difficulty is raised so high that defeating enemies relies more on luck than skill, and your character is killed numerous times for no good reason, the fun dies very quickly. Especially when the rest of the game is no different to its older counterpart, only the most loyal Spyro fans will see this game to the end. This title is aimed at children, the age rating is 7+, yet I cannot begin to imagine how a 7 year old would be able to complete this game without wanting to scream out in frustration continuously.

Despite the horrible game play, The Eternal Night comes with means to keep the player coming back for more. Unlockables include in-game artwork and mini games; these can be viewed if a player collects a certain amount of items throughout the game. There are feathers plus green and orange masks; many are hidden and require exploration in order to find them. With over 30 feathers and 5 masks of each colour, there's plenty scattered throughout the story, the question is would you really want to go looking for them when the main game is as awful as it is? Many of the ‘platform' game genre elements come into play when looking for these items, these include precise jump timing and climbing obstacles. However a hefty number of the items happen to be located over bottomless pits of doom or any other obstacle that results in death if not performed precisely, and considering the blip in the controls, death is a likely occurrence. If you have happened to defeat an enemy that took you ages to do and you are not sure whether you've progressed enough in the game to reach a check point, you'll be constantly asking yourself'; “Is it really worth risking death and doing the whole of this section again, all for one feather?”. Sadly, the answer will most likely be a no.

After the first ‘Legend of Spyro' game, I didn't have high expectations, but I did have SOME expectations! Even though a few very small elements that were improved from the first game, they were overwhelmed by so much that went wrong or were simply copied from the previous title, luckily the actual game is short in length (excluding all the times to re-load after dying). I can only hope that the 3rd installment, (Dawn of the Dragon) learns from this title's mistakes and delivers a game that's not only enjoyable and worthwhile but playable! Whether you enjoyed ‘A New Beginning' or not, this game is not worth your time.

I can only recommend this game if you;
A) Like the sound of a dying dragon
B) Get a kick out of losing constantly, or
C) Are a diehard fan of Spyro.

Poor Spyro, come back when you've dumped Krome Studios!

The Good:
+ Most of the controls work....

The Bad:
- ...But some don't!
- Cheap deaths galore
- Voice actors are lacking in enthusiasm
- Frustrating check point system with no way to skip cut scenes
- Stupid battles where you're out numbered and can be killed in 2 hits
- Same baddies, levels, music and graphics from previous game – basically a cut and paste job!

In a sentence: More like the Eternally PAINFUL night...


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 04/21/10

Game Release: The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night (EU, 11/02/07)


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