Review by NerdcoreWorm
Twilight Princess definitely deserves royalty status
I've played the game. I've beaten the game. To some standards, you would say that I've mastered it as well. And after some careful thought and rigorous comparison to the once-treasured Zelda incarnate that is Ocarina of Time, I can say with confidence that this is without a doubt the greatest game of all time. This is, of course, only going with the notion that Ocarina of Time was the greatest game of all time. (as it is in many people's minds) I suppose it might be better to say that this game surpasses Ocarina of Time, that's a more suitable claim. Anyway, this game has an edge over nearly every aspect of any other Zelda game before now. Some of these were to be expected because of the increase in technology while other improvements are just Nintendo's sugar-sweet coating that covers each new installment with it's own distinct and very filling flavor. With that figurative thought in mind, prepare to gain a couple inches on your waist...
I should say right here, before I go any further, that I've only played the Gamecube version. I've yet to play the Wii version.
You guys bothering to read this should vaguely know the backstory of the game by now, so I won't dwell on it long. Link is back, some dark and mysterious void called "twilight" blankets Hyrule and Link gets called on by the gods to ruin evil once again. You meet alot of recurring characters in the Zelda series along with new ones, mostly all more than happy to assist in your quest. The most notable new character is Midna, an inhabitant of the Twilight. Her and Link meet by chance. And by "chance," I mean you're forced into the form of a beast when you enter the Twilight Realm, and you're thrown in prison by some Twilit Messengers (basic enemies of the Twilight Realm) and there you meet. You're companions throughout the whole game able to use her special abilities, some while you're in wolf form, others while human. Midna serves as a great help (although she'd never admit to helping you). Although Midna and Link share a common goal to eliminate the Twilight from Hyrule, she has her own agenda which is gradually revealed through the storyline. While it might not be as complex as previous games, the story is the deepest of any Zelda game ever. There's alot of plot twists, right when you think you're on you're last leg to the end of evil and the sanctuary of Hyrule, something happens that leaves you to pursue another malevolent antagonist to restore peace. This happens often, all while falling on the already thick life that you lead before you were proclaimed the Hero of Time. (yes, Link has a personal life) This gives the game the feel of having two plots, both intermingling, yet separate...it's tough to explain. Along to being lengthy and enjoyable, it's also dark. Alot of betrayal, conspiracy and anything else you could find in a Tom Cruise movie, except it's good. The game's look adds to the darkness by giving off this gritty and frigheningly-realistic feel at times that's very unlike Zelda, but it compliments the series well. From beginning to end, new and old elements mesh into Hyrule, it stays familiar without giving off that "I've been here before" aftertaste.
A Zelda game wouldn't be a Zelda game without new items to slay evil with and this installment delivers on every front. Without spoiling much, I'll say this: some of the most innovative items to be found in any game can be found here. A couple brand spanking new, others are quaint variations of past items. Because a Zelda game also isn't a Zelda game without some necessities like the Hero's Bow (complete with new Bomb Arrows) or bottles or bombs. One of the greatest things about this game are the new items you find. You can spend hours just wandering aimlessly finding new uses for the stuff in your inventory. Nearly every item can be used to end the lives of your relentless enemies one way or another. With that said...
The battle mechanics have been added to. The level of strategy integrated in the swordplay now is unreal. More enemies have more weaknesses, but with that also come some more resistances. Nearly every enemy you meet will have a different way for you to slay them by, as they will have one for you too. The enemies this time around put the "intelligence" in "artificial intelligence." If it weren't for the seven sword techniques that you learn along the way, the game would be extremely difficult. Even then, the game is much more difficult now. It offers some of the most grueling and intense battles ever to grace the controller. Zelda veterans will no doubt have a challenge waiting for them and the rookie will have a chance to season themselves for the battles that still await them. It should be noted though that the boss battles are still quite easy, once you figure out the pattern and strategy for beating them. No more than a fairy or a blue potion should be needed for the first seven bosses. But don't get me wrong, the bosses are by no means boring, Twilight Princess has some of the most inventive ways to take down your gargantuan Twilit adversaries. (a little useless Zelda trivia: this game has the first fully-underwater boss battle. Two words: hella fun.)
In terms of controls, they carry a same-but-different layout. Your action button is still A, sword is still B, and your items can be mapped to the X and Y buttons as always. As for the Z button, it's no longer your third item button and instead is used for interation with Midna (when you meet her that is). Another quite noticable change is that you have no shield button anymore. Instead your shield is automatically raised when you target a foe (good for players that lack the patience to press an extra button to keep from turning into Darknut fodder)
Music is great, some of it is actually orchestrated this time. I say "some," because most of it is still MIDI sounds thrown together in a satisfying, but still artificial style. From the title's opening theme that's sung to great success by a youthful choir to the booming and overly-satisfying epic tune that seems to pump adrenaline straight into your body during the final battle, the music is topest-of-top notch.
Some of you next-gen console worshippers will find the graphics lacking terribly, even for the Wii version. Sure, it's no Gears of War, but let it be noted that the game is still very detailed. The characters have more animations than ever before, especially our lovable Link. (not to mention he's detailed to look more like a person instead of a cartoon) The environments are very lush, bright (or dark depending on where you are in Hyrule), and rich with life, and I'm not just referring to the flora and fauna that are housed by this wonderful spectacle of a world. Naysayers should witness this breathing world for themselves before they make prodding assumptions.
I'm sorry to say that not every milli-inch of this game is untouched by flaw. The one complaint I have about this game is that the ending of the game is seriously lacking. Not the final battle, that's badass, but the following events shown to you in a 13-minute combination of credits and cutscenes. The story feels almost unfinished and open, but not to the point where it would warrant a sequel or continuation (or maybe it could?). To have the story tell itself with a "Peter Jacksonian epicness" all the way to the end where it stumbles just before the finish line is frustrating. Alas, it's not enough to hinder the game completely. That might just be my complaint as well...
I think that covers it all. The final word on this game is that it's simply genius. One of the most enjoyable gaming experiences ever and some of the best time you can have staring at a TV screen for 40+ hours. Twilight Princess definitely has the ability to drop jaws. It definitely did so to me. Without further ado, I crown this game the best achievement in gaming and I highly recommend this game to anyone that can stomach Nintendo. I give it a 9.9.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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