Mua how to train your dragon

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Right off the bat with How to Train Your Dragon 2 on PS3, the flight controls manage to impress. Riding on dragonback is incredibly smooth, the action balancing the precision you’d need for enjoyable flight but not forgetting the weight and anatomy of the creatures you’re riding. Turning and pitching your dragon are reliable, and you can even dive to build up quick downward speed for a thrilling controlled drop. It comes pretty naturally as well, the player able to easily learn the limits of their dragon so they can properly begin a direction change to avoid collisions.

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Unfortunately, these tight flying controls are wasted on this shallow title.

 

After the game’s tutorial lets you out of the training zone, the game does start off promising. The island of Berk where the dragon riders live is huge and you are free to fly about it as you please. The enormous mountains dominating it pierce the clouds and are full of caves and ledges, the ground below jagged and naturally forming areas that you can weave your dragons through as you explore this huge expansive environment. However, as you begin to play, you realize that Berk is all there is. This location will contain the total of all activities in the game, be they missions or the optional objectives. The optional objectives actually help make exploring Berk a task that doesn’t dry up too quickly, with things like lighting torches, breaking ice, and hunting down golden dragons scattered throughout. Each dragon also has a set of 50 tokens to find around the island, and surprisingly they’re hidden quite well despite the amount they had to hide. There are also Stoick’s Challenges that track activities both mundane and special, allowing the player to receive recognition for finding secrets as well as just doing something simple like falling off your dragon a bunch of times. There are very few actual rewards for exploration though, the dragons having special unlockable skills if you manage to find all of their personalized tokens and some secret characters for doing the right tasks, but the others are there just for the sake of doing them so it’s hard to get too invested in their completion.

 

The actual missions are where How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a huge letdown. When you begin, the game pitches the first few missions as training, ultimately a tournament taking place where you and the other dragon riders compete in a sequence of events that actually don’t wholly line up with your training. The four training mission types consist of flying through rings in a set path, flying through as many rings as possible, picking up sheep and dropping them in their appropriately colored pens, and a gallery shooting game with viking cutouts you need to blast with your dragon’s fire breath. The two ring flying missions are pretty straightforward tests of your ability to control your dragon, with the only consideration besides your direction really being if you want to hold X to fly faster or not. The sheep dropping mission is a timed challenge where you scoop up sheep and drop them in the right colored pens, and the viking shooting gallery actually seems wholly disconnected from the rest of the game as you maneuver an aiming reticle to shoot down the targets, the challenge there being that you can only fire so many fireballs at these easy targets before your dragon needs to recharge. The viking shooting game has no connection to the tournaments, where you and every character you aren’t playing as will compete in a few races, a sheep dropping race, and a wholly different target shooting game where you fly about and shoot the targets that uses a completely different control scheme than the shooting gallery.


There’s no real difference between the playable dragons before you’ve unlocked their special powers if you bother to do that at all, although it is nice to see the visual variety and have the characters say something different. Lines get repeated fairly often as you fly your dragon, but it is rather charming and sweet to see just how much the characters love their mounts. If you land on a viewpoint, the rider will often dote on their dragon, Astrid saying “Best friends for life, right?”, the usually bristly Snoutlout showing love his own way by saying just how much better his dragon is than everyone else, and the chubby Fishlegs doling out the surprisingly good line (*2*) to his little dragon. This at least makes switching dragons a bit more interesting, but it can’t shake off the monotony of the tasks. The main missions types are all repeated in a fairly predictable pattern before another tournament takes place, the only real differences to be found being the locations they take place in. Berk is a huge island with a lot of space, but it’s mostly got grass, mountains, and water to work with, a fact you become painfully aware as it still somehow has to retread ground.

 

The constant repetition in mission design could almost be stomached as well if not for the complicating factor of how long everything takes. Tournaments are a set of five events back to back, and while you don’t have to actually win any even to unlock the next ones, a single event in the tournament can take six minutes or more, these events often being races that have laps that only takes around a minute or so to complete. The races are definitely not dynamic enough to support such an absurd length, with most racers pretty much guaranteed to sit comfortably in their placings once the early portion is sorted out. Thankfully, it isn’t just about flying well here, as you can attack your fellow dragon riders or pick up items from special rings to impede them or protect yourself, but these all depend pretty heavily on proximity. You can’t launch a fireball or item at a racer unless they’re not only on your screen, but fairly close to you. The flying ring paths wind and twist fairly often making it hard to have a bead on anyone save the moments of early clustered flying, and if you miss too many rings in a row your dragon just slows down to punish you, meaning you can’t try to cut ahead to take a shortcut or bean the enemy before getting back on path. These races can often boil down to just flying along unopposed at the front or sitting too far in the back to make up significant ground.

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The other events aren’t without their issues. The sheep dropping game in regular missions is simple but easy enough. You just grab a colored sheep and take it to the right pen and try to do as many as you can in a small span of time. The tournaments though turn the sheep event into an event with a precise flight plan. You cannot just fly about grabbing sheep and cashing them in for points, you have to do what is essentially a race on a planned track but without laps or placement mattering. There is one place to redeem the sheep at the end of that lap and in your goal to get to 10 first, earning only 1 point per sheep and 3 if you manage to catch the occasionally spawning black sheep. If you do grab the black sheep the moment it spawns, the average you still need to do to finish is 4 regular sheep and 2 black ones, meaning 6 laps that make this another six minute event where so much of it is downtime of unopposed flight. You can try to get other people to drop sheep at least, but you have to do the right attack, as you won’t even lose your sheep if you crash into a wall and fall off your dragon. Luckily, respawns are fairly instant in all modes, and while it takes a bit to learn how to be aggressive when you first start doing dragon races, once you’ve got it down you’re pretty much guaranteed to always trounce the computer-controlled players unless they attack from off-screen.


 

As you no doubt gleaned by now, there doesn’t seem to really be a story to How to Train Your Dragon 2 besides this sequence of training events and tournaments. Wrapping up all the missions just means they stop giving them to you, which at that point is a relief since they would inevitably be the same thing done to death. There is an incredible lack of imagination on display here, the game too focused on flight challenges that lose their difficulty after the first time doing them and just become an exercise in completion. While Berk’s side objectives make exploration more interesting, a lot of them are technically just flying into an object or shooting it with fire as you stumble across it. The controls are here to make this an exciting game about flying around on the back of dragons, but there’s just nothing that really puts them to the test or provides an interesting outlet for their use. Fireball shots even lock on so that aiming them isn’t able to bring an extra element to the affair. Stuck on dragon back and stuck on Berk, you’re left with missions that mimic the repetitive grind of real training but don’t have any payoff save the hollow victories in events that drag on way too long.

THE VERDICT: How to Train Your Dragon 2 has surprisingly excellent flight controls but nothing interesting to do with them. Most every training mission just transplants the same few designs onto new parts of Berk before culminating in a tournament where every event is way too long for how little is going on in them. The island of Berk is a huge environment with tons of optional tasks to complete while flying around, but the whole game grows stale far too quickly as it heaps more nearly identical content onto the player that loses its luster before it even really starts repeating. Boring versions of the “races through rings” formula make up the bulk of the experience, with the few missions deviating from that design still too shallow to stand as more than a tolerable reprieve from them. The few rewards for good performance present in the game are mostly about investing absurd amounts of time in dull tasks, begging the question why anyone would devote time to getting them at all.

 

And so, I give How to Train Your Dragon 2 for PlayStation 3…

A TERRIBLE rating. The most enjoyable thing to do in this title is just to fly around in a game that nailed dragon flight pretty well. Everything else added to this experience only served to waste that simple, accessible control design. Almost nothing in it encourages the player to be stylish with their maneuvers or rewards expert flying, especially since so much of the missions funnel you through rings. It’s admittedly a problem found in many games focused purely on flight as the driving mechanic, but most games at least make the ring challenges considerably harder over time. How to Train Your Dragon 2 doesn’t want to lose the kids playing it, making it too permissive but still testing the limits of their attention span as they have to push through arbitrarily long repeating tasks. A fun control system needs proper direction as it can only survive on its own for a small bit, and the things given to the player to occupy them fail to implement them in an engaging manner.


 

How to Train Your Dragon 2’s structure really lets the whole experience down. If it had even just been a straight adaptation of the movie’s plot it would have likely been on a better path, but instead it appears all the design time went into making Berk this huge environment you can fly around but barely any thought went into what you can do with your dragons around Berk.

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While the film it’s based on deviated heavily from title’s promise of training dragons, How to Train Your Dragon 2 on PS3 focuses on it far too much despite that it’s immediately clear these dragons are capable and competent from the get-go. It would have been better to retire these dragons early rather than run them into the ground with the needless and repetitious training regimen this game lays out for you and them.

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