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'Dragon' goes up in flames

Apr 20, 2010

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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How to Train Your DragonThink about it. If you had any pet in the world, a dragon would be a wicked choice. You would have your own portable flame thrower whenever you needed that kind of thing. You would have your own air transportation and not to mention a really, really intimidating bodyguard. For adolescent Viking misfit, Hiccup, in 'How to Train Your Dragon', his forbidden dragon pal 'Toothless' is all of those things and much more.

Just like its motion picture counterpart, 'How to Train Your Dragon' the game lets the flying lizards take centre stage as there is really nothing for Hiccup or his female pal Astrid, to do. Being human is certainly not all its cracked up to be. You can step out of your basement and wander around the countryside collecting items, gathering food or medicine but as those repetitive nomadic tasks mount up, they soon take their toll on even those of us who have an abundance of patience.

How to Train Your DragonThe one bright spot in all the drifting about is finding the Challenge Cave. Inside, there are some ice sculpting and memory games that will distract you from your character's miserable existence.

Let's forget about all that though. The real superstars of 'Dragon' are the legendary creatures themselves. In arcade or story mode, you select one dragon to train, control and enter into battles. Successfully advance and you can have up to four of the lovely lizards in your stable. To raise them right, you must look after your pets properly. You must make sure they eat properly, get enough rest and exercise (training). The points you gain from battle or training can be distributed to your dragon's attributes making them stronger and faster.

Battle, you say? Yep. Unlike the movie which features a dragon-Viking war and espouses diplomacy over violence, the game is all about kicking the living crap out of your rivals. In a really, really simplified version of 'Mortal Kombat' or 'Street Fighter', you enter an arena and face off against other trainers and their dragons using effortless combos and ranged attacks to knock them out. Yep. The game is that undemanding and that vapid. Fight after fight, battle after battle, nothing really changes or matters after a while.

How to Train Your DragonYou can unlock more customization options so you can change everything from the type of wings to the kind of tail your beasts have. The available selections are impressive. Considering though the fate of your dragon, you have to question whether all that time and effort would be worth it in the end.

'How to Train Your Dragon' is like those re-iced cakes you can find in some of those dubious bakeries around town. The outside may look inviting but the inside is stale and crumby. It doesn't come close to measuring up to other Activision-Dreamworks movie tie-ins such as the 'Ice Age' or 'Shrek' series of games, which were a real blast. You are better off either seeing the 'Dragon' movie – it is one of the year's best animated films - or giving something like Ubisoft's 'Battle of Giants: Dragons' a spin, if you are in the market for something scaly and ferocious.


How to Train Your Dragon'How to Train Your Dragon'
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Activision
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Official Site:

Rating: 3 / 10


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G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see