IGN Review of Battle of Giants - Dragons
Last year Ubisoft released Battle of Giants: Dinosaurs, and changed my life forever. I can't play any dinosaur based video game now without wishing and hoping that at some point I get to fight a monster truck, or sentient schoolhouse. When they announced the next game in the series, Battle of Giants: Dragons, my only expectation was that I would get to fight some awesome, totally random secret boss. I didn't ask for a story, or deeper gameplay, but I'll take those too.
Unlike the last game, Dragons actually has a story. There are a lot of made up dragon language words like "Dirga" and "Tamabukku" and uh... "elemental." The gist is this: King Dragon invented a Dragon World so that humans wouldn't get all up in their Dragon Business. But Evil Dragons took over. So now you have to collect Dragon Energy to use your Dragon Moves and save Dragon Town. It all sounds a lot more mystical when explained in big fake words by characters who have random apostrophes in their names, like Ka'Izi.
So you pick a dragon element, based on the ancient art of '70s funk music, and create an earth, wind, fire, or ice dragon. They all basically look the same, since the game features a lot fewer customization options than Dinosaurs. But each element has a different bonus effect, such as increased damage, or health regeneration, so there's some strategy in your choice. It's a little disappointing that I was able to pick my all time favorite dinosaur from a large list, but in here all the dragons look the same, minus some color differences. The few options are too similar to each other.
When you've got your dragon and you head out into the world, the game tasks you with finding and defeating the dragon lords. Just like in Dinosaurs the game is a top down 3D world, and all movement is controlled by the touch screen. Players run, or fly, around, finding other dragons to beat up. Once you enter the battle the game becomes a stylus flicking quick draw game. By tapping your dragon and flicking the stylus players can attack, defend or dodge. The dragons are in a circular arena, and by dragging the dragon (ha!) plays can choose what body part to attack with. Successful attacks allow players to choose to either gather more energy, or use an attack gem. Then they have to do a quick connect the dots to build up power. It's a lot less complicated than it sounds, since this all happens in about five seconds. It's all about timing and choosing wisely. Successfully blocking an attack gives you a split second more time to make the next attack, and dodging gives you a sizeable energy boost, which lets you use more devastating attacks. It's a fun battle system, and I'm glad they changed it from the overly simple design of Dinosaurs. But aside from battling, the only other thing you get to do in the game is shoot fireballs at crystals in the levels. It would have been nice to have something else in there, even if was just a mini-game.
Dragons looks pretty good for a DS game. The dragons are similar, but they're suitably badass. It's just a hell of a lot of fun to watch them beat the living hell out of each other. All of this dragon on dragon carnage is punctuated by a fairly epic soundtrack. Unfortunately, it all gets a bit repetitive: gameplay, animations, and music. All three change slightly over the course of the game. New moves are unlocked, the animations change a bit for stronger attacks, and there are a few songs, but it starts to get stale.
What does help it a bit are the secret battles. Ubisoft has once again included sentient objects to do battle with. I'm a little torn this time around though. I absolutely loved it in Dinosaurs, the secret battles were the highlight of the game. But in Dragons there is a plot, and it's all a lot more serious, so when I come upon an angry drum set, or police car, it almost clashes. And yet, it's still freaking sweet, and there's no rule against inside jokes in games, so screw it, they rock. Plus smashing up a cop car with my fire breath makes a lot of sense in context since my dumb over-apostrophized dragon name is F'Da'Police.
Multiplayer is definitely a big plus. While it isn't the eight player tournament that Dinosaurs had, it does feature a multi round, four player tournament off single card. Playing with other people is not only more exciting (due in large part to smack talk), it's the only time this very easy game can get difficult.
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