Also On: Wii U, PS3, Wii, 3DS
Publisher: Torus Games
Developer: Little Orbit
Over the years it’s become a sort of running gag that videogames based on movies are always horrible experiences; that they only exist as cash cows to entice the general public and little kids to throw money at a familiar name. For every exception out there (GoldenEye 007 on N64) there are countless others that should be avoided at any cost. It’s with much regret, but little surprise, that How To Train Your Dragon 2 not only fails to live up to the excellent movie it’s based on, but also fails to live up to any definition of a fun gameplay experience.
I knew the game was in trouble five minutes into playing it when I immediately drew comparisons to Superman 64. “Surely it gets better”, I thought as I slogged through the various tutorials and missions. Alas, the game kept disappointing over and over again to the point where I sat back in wonder at how something so mundane and awful could be made from a movie that is fantastic, exciting and action-packed. But, I suppose I got ahead of myself by just rattling off my disappointments with the game.
I’ll admit I went into this game completely blind. I hadn’t seen a single piece of information prior to playing it. I knew it was based off the movie, and I expected maybe a platform style game or maybe something akin to Skylanders. For a brief moment after starting the game and flying on the back of a dragon I hoped that maybe the game was a free roaming shooter or maybe one on rails like Panzer Dragoon. Instead the game devolves quickly into missions that have you flying the dragon through rings (not unlike Pilotwings or the aforementioned Superman 64). This wouldn’t be so bad if the game had decent controls. One of the missions had me fly my dragon straight at a mountain, and then fly up the mountain. Unfortunately the hit detection was off and even though I was clearly quite a distance away from the rocks on the mountain, the camera insisted on going all over the place, making flying straight near impossible. I kept hitting invisible walls that would turn my dragon back or mess with the camera angle. If flying through rings isn’t your thing, you can do dragon races, which has you flying around a track while spitting out projectiles at your competitors. Other little games abound, like one where you fly down and collect different colored animals and return them to their respective pens. The more you can collect in a given time the higher your rank. You can also fly around the island in free roam and find hidden little trinkets that can unlock goodies. These will differ depending on the dragon and riders you choose to play as.
The main problem with How To Train Your Dragon 2 is that it’s not fun to play. There are various little events to take part in (like a shooting gallery), but they’re so shallow and boring that I doubt any gamer will want to play for more than 30 minutes. It almost feels like small Mario Party games make up the bulk of the missions. In other words, they’re very light on substance and even lighter on fun factor. The controls need improvement and the graphics are very last generation looking. I mean Kameo, and Xbox 360 launch game looks better than this game. In fact, I’d say this looks like a slightly upgraded PS2 game. OK, so maybe that’s a tad harsh, since the water looks pretty good. The audio is about the only good thing in the game, as it seems to borrow music from the movie. The voice acting isn’t too bad, but keep in mind it’s very childish and as such did grate on me after a few play sessions.
I really can’t recommend this game to anyone. It’s not a fun experience, it has very little to do with the movie, and is clearly an attempt at luring unsuspecting customers in to buy a game based on an excellent movie franchise. It’s too bad because I can think of many scenarios and game types that would have been infinitely better than what’s on display here. Feel free to add How To Train Your Dragon 2 to the huge list of horrible games with movie licenses.