Review by Danthorthered
"Not very much new, but still an enjoyable Beast"
Ahh, where to begin. Let's keep this part simple and begin with the basics.
As the story for this game goes, Well we all know it and we all know it well. Our favorite trio, Zelda, Link, and Ganon all back into the mix for another Legend of Zelda epic. Though admittedly Ganon plays a much lesser role in this game than he has in others. Rather than be the primary villain as he has in most cases, he is merely alluded to and makes no actual appearance until close to the end of the game. Sure he's seen in a flashback, which is a pretty good indication that he's going to be in the game, but all the same, he almost feels like he was put in there simply to complete the trio. I mean in previous games he did so much more. In OOT, he actually successfully took over Hyrule! But that's not the among the several points I want to bring up with you.
First, I'm going to do things a bit differently. If you want to hear about what Twilight Princess did right, you won't need to look very far, as so very many cannot stop gushing about this title, some going as far as to proclaim it the best in the series. Good game? Sure! Great game? Yes, actually. Best ever? Not by a longshot. I'm going to do different by beginning to tell you why I think like this.
Look at the previous Zelda games. the origonal LoZ, Zelda II, ALTTP, OOT, etc etc. What made those titles great? Everything really, but the one definitive thing is that all of those zelda games, while following a certain style and feel, still feel very differently from one another, and thus every one of them provide an altogether different experience. Some of the previous Zeldas have various nods to others in the series, be it through characters, items, or a remixed music track, but each LOZ can easily stand on its own merits by all bringing something unique to the table. the first LOZ brought us the series we know now, and laid the groundwork for all games to come. Zelda II, I actually feel brought the most new and revisted elements to the series. Don't beleive me? Zelda II introduced actual towns, that are now bustling with people. It also brought us interactive NPCs to offer hints (or give you new puzzles) and propel the story. Furthermore, Zelda II also introduced the use of Magic, as well as the ablilty to learn new fighting techniques, such as the downward thrust. Zelda II also brought us things like the Trading elements, as well as the beginning of sidequests. ALTTP brought us back to the foundation of the first Zelda, but presented a much richer story with very innovative items that had plenty of uses outside of the dungeons you attain them, as well as finally bringing the Triforce to full fruition (Only the first 2 triforce sections were ever addressed until now, which I suppose you might call the BiForce) as well as really bring Hyrule to life by bringing townspeople into your quest, introducing hylian lore to the world, actual weather elements, such as rain and wind, and most importantly, ALTTP introduced us to the Master Sword. OOT brought the series into 3d with style. It brought an interesting night and day system, which affected much more than aesthetics. Monsters would crop up at night a la Castlevania II, and certain sidequest items could only be used or found at night or certain points in the day. OOT also brought us to the land of time travel, and gave us again, lots of unique items that had lots of use outside of dungeons. OOT fleshed out things that were never addressed in previous games, mostly dealing with actual origins of species, characters, and the land of hyrule itself.
That was a sampler of what the other games in the series have done. Why did I go to such length about games I'm not even supposed to be reviewing? It's all relevant, trust me. Here's why.
I criticise Twilight Princess for being the Zelda which actually brings the least new to the series. In fact, this game if you boil it down is a very simple thing. A very highly polished frankenstien of previous zelda games, with minimal new things. This was likely the game that was mostly meant as an apology to those who felt slapped in the face by the bold new style of the Wind Waker. It follows a basic formuliac approach which has been used in several Zeldas. You begin your game. After some time get weapons. Do 3 dungeons. Meat of game begins. Now I can't fault that very much because it works so well, but a part of me wishes that there were a newer way to tell the story. What it did bring different didn't feel very different. I found the items to be much more bland than any other title. Most standard Zelda fare, which is no bad thing such as 4 empty bottles, bow and arrow, some variation of boomerang, etc etc. It's the new items I feel are the games weakest point, and it should be one of it's strongest. What makes them weak is thier applications. The Clawshot is fun, but it was so much more versatile and useable in previous games, where it stuck to chests, wood, posts, cielings, etc etc. In those games it added an entirely new element of exploration, especially when it was introduced to us in 3d in OOT. But it can only cling to specialized plates in this game, which sadly limits it almost exclusively to dungeon use. Dual Clawshots is fun too, but again. With extremely limited surface cling, you don't use them much, if at all beyond the dungeons you find them. But let's look at the more interesting new items. The Dominion Rod, for instance. I thought that was one of the coolest new things that I got my hands on. Until I discovered it was so very limited too. It's like this. You use it in your dungeon, and to get into the next one. Its only other use is to get one heart peice, and that's it. There is no more purpose to that item, and I think that's a shame. It had a lot of potential, but it was wasted. The Spinner is another tragic loss. Really neat new weapon and idea, really sick boss fight, but beyond that dungeon you use it for 2 heart peices, and to ascend one section of stairs before the final battle. Boo-urns. The Ball and Chain is really neat, until you realize it esentially the new Megaton Hammer, for it does the EXACT same thing, just on a chain, and it weighs a ton more. On the plus side though, this item has plenty of use outside of dungeons, and can be used as a clever shield if you're in a jam. So I can almost let that one go.
In terms of gameplay, again this borrows very heavily from previous Zeldas. It controls very much the same as OOT (which for this style of game, is not a bad thing. In fact that's a very good thing), while combining the new swordplay tricks (Most of them the very same as) used in Wind Waker. Even the new shape shifting to wolf mechanic, which is really fun, is still nothing new. In Majoras Mask, you had 4 forms you could be, all with thier own unique abilites, which again, added a new dimension of exploration. The soundtrack also has a lot of remixed older Zelda tunes which is both a blessing and a curse. A Blessing because those remixed tracks make up for some of the very forgettable other tracks (Ilia's theme anyone?) And a Curse because honestly remixed tracks are really cool, but they shouldn't feel like they were needed to make the soundtrack memorable. Don't get me wrong though. The Soundtrack for this game is quite good (Unless you're talking about that "Soundtrack CD" which Nintendo is offering.. Ugh) But it doesn't stand out when put against the other Zelda titles.
Visually speaking this is the most goregous Zelda game I've ever played. But.. unfortunately, it doesn't stand up to some other older games, such as the Metroid Prime games or Resident Evil. Now I realize stylistically, those games are completely different, I'm not taking away from that. What I am taking away from is that some textures just look sloppy, whereas both games I just mentioned, everthing visually is crisp and wound very tight. At no point would you stop for a second and think "Wow, that's kinda chunky". The game does look superb, but I think a little more time could have been spent touching up some of those textures, so they match the rest of the games graphics, which do look great.
Now some of you might be asking "Damn. Do you think this game did anything right?" Yes as a matter of fact, I think it did plenty right.
For instance, your new helper in this game is MUCH better than any helper you've been given in the new generation of Zelda titles. She doesn't howrang you constantly with usesless information, instead choosing to taunt you sometimes, and she leaves her hints, if any, vague, so you've actually got to do some thinking. And some of the attacks she actually helps you do prove essential when fighting the Twili.
Two words: Skippable cutscenes. That alone is something that adds a ton of replay value in any game. This is no different.
The dungeon design in this game was just brilliant. Each dungeon had really clever puzzles, very very interesting layouts, and simply stunning boss battles. Unlike the relative linearness of the dungeons found on OOT, you're actually going to be doing a fair amount of head scratching in these dungeons, which is always a welcome challenge. The only thing that could have made them better is the boss battles being more difficult.
The world to explore is simply gargantuan. The largest Zelda for certain. Epic is certainly the first word that comes to mind. Lots of little secrets and caves some both obvious, and not so obvious to find, but there is no shortage of things to do here, be it scouring for those blasted golden bugs, looking for new caves to spelunk in (Such as the Cave of Ordeals.. heheheheh), or just riding around on horseback slicing the friggin crap out of evildoers
The final battle in this game was VERY satisfying. It somehow managed to cleverly, and all at once throw in ideas from past Zeldas, as well as tie in all new methods of fighting you've ever used in this game for one really big fight. In my own personal opinion, this was the pinnacle of final battles in the series.
As a whole though, Twilight Princess presents itself very well, plays beautifully, and is genuinely a fun, satisfying game to play again and again (I'm actually on my 3rd consecutive time through the Wii version). However, much of this game doesn't really carry on the tradition of innovation and not taking the beaten down path that Zelda games before it have done, leaving it feel more dated yet still ultimately very..comfortably familiar, Like a well loved pair of boots.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 02/27/07
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