Review by littlebeelzebub
"And I'm hungry like the wolf..."
Twilight Princess is one of those games that you'll love at first, but on a second play through you'll realize that you were more in love with the Zelda franchise than the game itself. I'll admit, it's very hard to look at this game objectively, because I love Zelda games. Looking at this game as yet another sequel to an already tired franchise, however, pushed me to write my second review ever.
Certainly not the best-looking game I've ever played, but it is probably up there in the top 20. The world itself is alive and vibrant, and I couldn't help but fall in love with simply looking at Hyrule again. I remember seeing the castle at night and I actually had to stop to marvel at its beauty. The charm of this game shows best through its graphics, and how the graphics are used to convey an alternate world. I felt a lot more immersion into the world of Hyrule in this title than I did in Wind Waker, and that was definitely welcome.
Ah, the story... I'm not going to lie, I'm story biased. When I play a game I'm playing for two things: gameplay and the plot, and this game was severely lacking in the plot department. Since the launch of the Gamecube I've been waiting for this game. I took a blow when I played Wind Waker, which I did eventually fall in love with, but it just wasn't what I had been waiting for. When this game was announced I quite nearly sprayed my shorts. "And to top it off he can change into a wolf! Holy ****!" Then I dropped my fanboyism and played the game. I was not impressed. The first three dungeons of the game were light on story, but decent. By the 5th dungeon the developers had dropped all pretenses of maintaining a plot, and it only picked back up for the end. I kid you not when I say that there are dungeons that have 15 minutes inbetween them. No mini-dungeon inbetween, no semblance of a quest to perform... you just go from point A to point B and the 15 minutes is comprised of the time it takes you to get to point B. It also feels like they're just building on the story that already exists, rather than explaining the questions players have been asking since Ocarina of Time. How long are they going to string us along with a story that's been rehashed (with the exceptions being the Link's Awakenings and the Majora's Masks of the series) this many times? If the Zelda franchise doesn't do something to quickly revive its plot it will be dead by the end of the next game, and then the game's only saving point will be the gameplay.
Even I can't complain too much about the gameplay, dungeon-wise and combat-wise this was the neatest 3D Zelda game I've played. The puzzles were innovative instead of the story. There's a scene early in the game where you battle an enemy on a bridge and I'll admit I thought it was one of the neatest things I'd ever done in a game (even if it was just a ghetto version of jousting). However, the combat loses points when you realize how easy it is. During my second play through I could go through entire dungeons without getting hit more than a couple of times. The enemy AI is still very poorly done, and the fact that blocking is done automatically (like in A Link to the Past) simply makes it too easy. However, it's saved by the fact that the dungeons were very well done (since they're where you're spending the majority of the game). This game offered enough innovation to seem fresh, but ultimately stayed true to the formula and it ended up paying off. Points were lost due to the easiness of the combat, and the fact that some items the player receives in dungeons are rarely used again. Also the slingshot was completely useless now that you have both it, and the bow and arrow. After you get through a certain point in the game you will only use the slingshot if you run out of arrows.
In an era where voice acting reigns supreme on everything but the handheld platform this game suffers severely. The little screams and laughs that are played at the beginning of the text just aren't cutting it anymore. The music is also suffering, mainly because once again the developers simply weren't innovative enough. There is no memorable music from this game that wasn't in the other games, and even a lot of the sound effects that were used from previous games (sword clashes, etc...) have been reused. At certain points in the game you have to howl as the wolf, but even then they mainly reuse songs from Ocarina of Time that you could play on your ocarina. It seems mainly that this game is riding on the curtails of previous games rather than bringing anything new to the table. Sure it has nostalgia to it, but viewing this as a stand alone game it falls short.
Replay Value: 6/10
A game that relies on puzzles has little replay value. A game that offers a shallow story to go with those puzzles becomes even less replayable. The problem is that half the time I feel like the first time I played this game was a replay, a replay of all of the other 3D Zeldas that I've played to this point. The only motivation to really replay anything is if you didn't go for 100% completion the first time through, which I did.
The problem with all art (video games, books, paintings, etc...) is that people are afraid to stray too far from what already works. I hate Final Fantasy XII because of its story, but I respect it because it tried to do something different. It changed the gameplay drastically, and offered a story that was different than the ones before it. Twilight Princess on the other hand is simply a graphically stunning rehash of things that were new to the franchise 5 years ago. The sad thing is is that I was craving a Zelda game and I still didn't like this game all that much. I'm being generous by giving it a 7, because even though it's a bad game I still like it because it's Zelda. If another game comes out without adding something drastically different though, they're going to lose at least one customer as well as all of my interest in the entire franchise. Stop playing it safe, because after this game I'm still wanting something more. This game didn't satiate my hunger, and so I'm left, hungry like the wolf.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 12/21/06
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