Sony has produced many a 3D "mascot" game since therelease of the PlayStation. Some have been good, like Crash, and others have been less than satisfying (Jersey Devil anyone?), but Spyro the Dragon tops them all.
Playing as Spyro, you must explore six massive worlds to free your fellow dragons from the spell of the evil Gnasty Gnorc. Gameplay is standard for the genre. The dragons must be freed, there are gems to be collected and special bonus levels to be found. All of this may sound familiar but what makes the gameplay work is the wondrous beauty of the game environment.
Spyro is simply one of the best looking games available on the PlayStation. The landscapes extend to horizon with no pop up and no fog effects, the textures are smooth and varied, and all of the various creatures, Spyro included, are flawlessly animated. Seeing Spyro jump from a peak and effortlessly glide to a nearby hill is almost worth the price of admission on its own. Even the sky is composed of polygons. And this kind of detail and care can be found in every graphical element of the game.
The graphics of this title are complemented by tight analog control. Spyro's list of moves is not as long as that of other mascot heros (basically he can breath fire, charge, jump, glide and roll to the side) but each move is useful and easy to pull off.
Simply put, Spyro is one of the best games I've played all year and will probably still be near the top of my play list when the holiday season ends. Awesome graphics, tight control, great level design, and a soundtrack by Stewart Copeland (drummer for Sting's old band, The Police) give this title real staying power. The only knock one could possibly make on the game is that it is a little on the easy side. But Spyro is a game as much about exploration as pouncing on enemies and exploring the rich landscapes of Spyro's world are a pleasure almost any gamer can enjoy. This game is a real gem.
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