Review by LordShibas

"The Best Zelda Game Ever made"

A few months ago, I decided that I was going to play through every Zelda game since “A Link to the Past.” Prior to this, I was not a big fan of the Zelda series, and the only Zelda game that I had ever enjoyed was “A Link to the Past.” Having just finished Twilight Princess, I can now say that my journey is complete and I have played Every Zelda game since “A Link to the Past.” My journey had its ups and downs, however, nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for the gaming experience that was Twilight Princess. Never in a million years did I think that I would enjoy a Zelda game so much.

Not only is Twilight Princess the best Zelda game I have ever played, it's also one of the best games I've played in recent memory. (This is a big compliment coming from me, since I'm not a huge fan of first party Nintendo games) While the game does have some shortcomings, the majority of the game is an absolutely incredible package of all things Zelda, personified to perfection.

Twilight Princess does not mess with the familiar Zelda archetype, so you will be doing similar things that you've done in previous Zelda games, but Twilight Princess has an overall darker feel and a more gritty presentation. I found this to be a good thing and I found Twilight Princess to be a much better game than Wind Waker in almost every way.

Twilight Princess was the swan song for the Gamecube, and the years of development that went into the game really show. It has incredibly detailed environments, some mind bending puzzles, and dungeons so epic that one of them in particular took me three and a half hours to complete.

The controls also seem to be a bit more responsive, the L-targeting has improved, and the character models no longer look like rejects from Animal Crossing. Twilight Princess is also much more story based than the previous Zelda games, so you will be sitting through a lot more text than usual, but this is good since it gives you some much needed direction and always makes you aware of your next, primary goal.

There are basically two worlds in Twilight Princess, the Twilight world and the regular world. The evil that has been cast upon Hyrule turns the regular areas into Twilight areas. The Twilight areas are simply dark and destroyed versions of the regular areas. It's Link's job to restore these areas in the beginning of the game. He will do this by collecting Tears of Light from enemies in the Twilight Realm. However, Link can only do this as a wolf………a wolf you say?

Yes indeed, Link can transform into a wolf in Twilight Princess. Early in the game you will be forced to be wolf Link, but later in the game, you get the option to change back and forth freely. Why would you want to be a wolf you might ask? Well there are a few reasons.

As wolf Link, you will have heightened senses and you will be able to see things that human Link cannot. You will also be able to dig under certain walls, move a lot faster, have access to a dash, and be able to jump further. Later in the game, you will get the ability to warp to certain locations while in wolf form. So there are many times in the game when it is vital to switch to wolf Link in order to accomplish your tasks.

Well I'll keep my introduction short, since most people already know about the game, and I'll get right to my review, since I have a lot to talk about with this game.

Graphics 10/10

I'll start out by saying that Twilight Princess is quite possibly the best looking console game I have ever played in my life. I've played many better looking PC games, but Twilight Princess really blows other console games from its generation out of the water. Since I have yet to truly break into the Xbox 360/PS3 generation of gaming, Twilight Princess was a feast for my eyes and my senses.

The art style really has to be seen to be believed, and upon entering almost every dungeon, I was completely entranced by their graphical portrayal. Whether you are watching the huge, lava geysers erupt in the Goron Mines, or looking at the crystal clear floor of the Snowpeak Ruins, everything looks incredible.

The game also does some clever work with the camera, and often gives you some nice close-ups of the character models, Link in particular. Even these look great.

During the game, you will often be going back and forth between the Twilight Realm and the regular world. The transitions from light to dark and dark to light are just mesmerizing, and this really shows when jumping between realms. These transitions are accompanied by incredible lighting effects which are among the best I have ever seen in a game.

While in the Twilight Realm, the real world depictions are often jaw dropping and at the same time awe-inspiring. Towns will be run down and all of the houses will have the windows smashed out, real people will often be replaced by dark enemies, and if you look in the distance, you can see huge flames seeping over the hillsides, showing the dire state that Hyrule will be in if the Twilight is allowed to take over.

While in the regular world, everything looks just as good, but in a different way. Light will flow through the trees in the Sacred Grove, waterfalls will entrance you at Zora's Domain, and the Gerudo Desert will seem like an endless obstacle on your way to the Arbiter's Grounds.

I could talk about the graphics in this game for a long time, but I think you get the message. Twilight Princess is by far the best looking game I have ever seen on the Gamecube. If you want to see what the Gamecube is capable of, look no further than this game.

Sounds and Music 7/10

This is the one and only area where Twilight Princess didn't really impress me. The game is filled with many different music tracks, but none of them feel as epic as the music that accompanies the intro.

Some of the music often sounds about N64 quality and it sometimes hurts the atmosphere a bit. The game would have benefited from an orchestral soundtrack. With so many epic scenes in the game, there would be no shortage of places to utilize an orchestral soundtrack and really bring the scenes to life. On top of this, there are some dungeons that just lack music all together, or have music that is so low that you really can't hear it very much or even notice it.

Some scenes have passable music, like the horse riding bits and the over world music, but they are still average at best.

The sound effects are about the same as previous Zelda games, and many of the sounds from previous games have been imported and touched up a bit.

There is still a lack of character voices for any of the characters, which is rather execrable at this point in the Zelda series. This is the swan song game for the Gamecube and Nintendo still cannot include any character voices. Eh, whatever. I'm used to it now with the Zelda series. Link just stands around like a human Lassie and somehow everyone just knows what he's thinking. At least make up some off the wall story line about how he can reach people telepathically or something.

So the sounds were improved from previous games, but they just didn't impress me as much as the rest of the game.

Story 10/10

As I said in my introduction, the story in Twilight Princess is much more in depth than previous Zelda games. Even though the story is more linear, you will still have the option to explore to your heart's content and do any side quests that you deem worthy. However, the side quests are purely optional and I really liked this about the game. I gathered most of the heart pieces, but I missed 5 heart pieces that I didn't think were worth the effort. Turns out that it didn't make much of a difference and I was able to finish the game fine without them.

The story once again focuses on Link, who now works in Ordon, a village in the Southern area of Hyrule. Some bizarre events occur and he ends up becoming the chosen hero to save a Hyrule that has been swallowed in Twilight and chaos.

Zant will be your main enemy and he is responsible for the Twilight that plagues Hyrule. Zant will make his presence known a few times throughout the game and comes off as being quite an intimidating foe. I don't want to ruin anything about the story, but I'll just say that there may be another enemy pulling the strings, and this is up to Link to find out who is behind it all.

A good majority of the early game takes placed in the Twilight Realm, so you will be playing as wolf Link very early in the game. There will be periods when you go back and forth between being a wolf and human.

Once you have cleared up the Twilight in Hyrule, then your second main quest will begin, which is to find the Master Sword and find mirror shards from the different dungeons/temples.

The story is told through some nice cut scenes, and is often narrated and explained to you by your new escort, Midna. Midna is a small, dark creature who has a hidden past that seems to have similar goals as Link, so they partner up and remain together for most of the game.

I really liked Midna and I think she is the best escort that Link has ever had. She doesn't waste her time cracking stupid jokes or annoying the crap out of you. She will simply give you your next objective and add some elements to the story. Then you can move on.

The progression of the story really hooked me early on, and I was captivated all the way to the end. I really thought the story was the best that the Zelda series has ever seen, and there are even some shocking plot twists later on in the game.

Gameplay 9/10

For the most part, Twilight Princess plays very similar to Wind Waker. The controls are almost identical, but they seem a bit more fluid and the L-Targeting seems to be more precise.

The game has a whopping nine dungeons, plus an added bonus dungeon which is quite long and challenging. The dungeons end up being much like standard Zelda dungeons. You will be finding keys, maps, and special items. The special item selection is great and Link has quite a few new tools at his disposal. Some of these include the Clawshots, the Spinner, new types of bombs, Iron Boots, a Statue Possession rod, and many others.

Many of these new items are used frequently but some of them are only used for a single dungeon, then you will never use them again. The Iron Boots are a good example of an item which you use frequently. They can be used to sink to the bottom of pools of water, used to stop you from being blown off of high bridges, used to hold you in place during boss fights, or they can be used to plod across magnetic surfaces in the Goron Mines.

While the dungeons are quite epic in scale, the end bosses are often disappointing. They are intimidating at first, and seem formidable, but once you figure out how to beat them, they are pretty easy. The difficulty in Twilight Princess does not really come from the combat, it comes from the dungeons, which are teeming with puzzles to solve. Some of the puzzles are easy to figure out, but some of them will really test you and make you think.

The gameplay in Twilight Princess is rock solid and I could talk about it for pages and pages. The only problem I had with the gameplay was that it was tad easy and there was almost no point to getting the heart pieces and getting health items.

Longevity and Re-Playability 10/10

This is a long game, quite possibly the longest Zelda game ever. I completed the game in 48 hours and the only side quests I did were for heart pieces and additional sword skills. There are also bug collection quests, a slew of mini-games, and an entire encyclopedia of fish which you can catch.

With so many options and such a great story, I would have no problem playing through this game again, even though it's more linear than most Zeldas. It's an incredible journey and will take you a long time to complete and even longer to collect everything.

Conclusion

This game really surprised me. I really didn't expect to get sucked into this game like I did and drop 48 hours of my life in two weeks, but it happened, and I don't regret the time I spent with the game one bit.

I cannot stress this enough. You simply must play this game. It's one of the best games I've played in recent memory and it really changed my perception of the Zelda series. Even though I'm still not a fan of the entire Zelda series, I can really appreciate what Nintendo has done with this game and I now see why the series has such a huge following.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/20/08

Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (US, 12/11/06)


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