E3 06: Eragon Hands-On

Vivendi's movie tie-in is set for release on major platforms this November, and we get our first hands-on with the game on the Xbox 360 at E3.

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LOS ANGELES--Eragon is set to be a major Hollywood release this December, and the game should arrive slightly earlier in November. Eragon will hit the Xbox, PlayStation 2, PC, PSP, DS, and the GBA, but we were lucky enough to spend time playing the Xbox 360 version with developers Stormfront at E3.

Stormfront was the team behind The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and it's easy to see how that template has evolved into Eragon. The combat elements are very similar, with both close-combat and long-range attacks, and Eragon is helped out by other characters along the way. One of the signature moves from The Two Towers has also made it into Eragon, where you can cooly stab a fallen enemy in the heart.

One of the big draws for Eragon is being able to have a second player dip in and out of the game as the supporting character. Different characters boast varying weapons and abilities, so there should be an incentive to play through the game again in this mode. The cooperative play would have been a great draw for Xbox Live, but the final game will unfortunately not offer online co-op, just the expected achievement points. The game is not solely about on-foot combat, with many sections taking place on the back of Eragon's dragon Saphira. We got to play through one airborne level, which played well despite some slowdown at this stage. Saphira can breathe fire on the enemy, whip her tail to send debris flying, and launch magic arrows from her back. You can also click the two joysticks in to gain a burst of speed and avoid attacks.

The Xbox 360 version is not only graphically much more impressive than the PS2 version, but it also has added levels and features. There will be two new levels taken straight from the book, one of which will be ground-based and the other will be dragon-based. A new enemy will also make an appearance in the 360 version, which will be a boss character from the book that isn't in the film.

Stormfront is developing the home console and PC versions of the game, while Amaze has the handheld duties. While we didn't get to play the handheld versions at the show, it's worth noting that none of them will be ports of the home versions. Instead, the PSP game will feature dragon flight only, while the DS version will be a third-person action RPG. The game has been in development since preproduction began on the film and it's shaping up nicely, particularly on the Xbox 360. We'll have more on Eragon as it reaches its release.

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