Review by Crazee Boy
I can't lie; I thought this would top Ocarina of Time.
I wanted the Wii version of this, but I never could get a Wii. So, with a few days to Christmas, I just asked mom for the GameCube version. Thanks to my incessant begging, I got it the same day she bought it. I was giddy as I put it in. My hands trembled. I watched the opening video in awe. I was so excited. It was, as stupid as it sounds, like I was dreaming. That's how badly I wanted to play this game.
I kept comparing it to Ocarina Of Time as I played. OoT being my favorite Zelda game, and second-favorite game of all time. That sort of brought me down when I played. I'd really be enjoying myself, and then I'd say "But OoT did this better." So, I suggest you avoid that. Well, on to the actual review.
First off, the graphics. Unless you liked Wind Waker's style, this is, by far, the best looking Zelda game to date. Everything is exquisitely detailed and beautiful. I never came across any ugly, tearing, or stretching textures, the character models are detailed extremely realistic looking, characters move just like they should, water looks incredible, and... Well, what more do I need to say? This is one fine looking game. The effects like heat distortion are spot on, but there's a bit too much bloom at times...
The sound effects are 'good enough'. I don't really find them to be great, but they're not bad. They just work. Some sounds, like pots breaking, is taken right out of Wind Waker. There's really not much I can say here. I find myself indifferent on the sound effects.
I was a bit disappointed with the music. While some of it really reaches out and grabs you, like the epic orchestrated theme of Hyrule Field, much of the dungeon music is very forgettable. That bothered me a bit, as I loved the dungeon music from past games. *Cough, Ocarina of Time, Cough* And what's more, to make the music dynamic, MIDI is used. Now, unless you're really whiney about it, you generally can't tell the difference, but I'd rather have live-recorded music in place of MIDI. Oh well, you can't have it all.
The controls are nearly spot-on. Link moves nimbly and responds to the slightest nudge of the control stick, and while aiming is perhaps easier on the Wii, it's still extremely responsive on everyone's favorite cube-shaped console. The same goes for riding horseback, too. However, there's the issue of the camera. Now, in Wind Waker, I loved how free the camera was. Twilight Princess is built on a modified Wind Waker engine, so... Why isn't the camera that free!?
Without spoiling too much, just what you might find out in the first hour of playing, there's a curtain of twilight engulfing the land of Hyrule, and when Link goes near a wall of this twilight, he's turned into a wolf. He soon pairs up with a mysterious imp named Midna, and Link must save Hyrule from the twilight.
While it doesn't sound too engrossing, it gets quite interesting and deep, and I find that Midna herself is a very interesting character. Twilight Princess seems to be tied with Majora's Mask for the title of "Most story driven Zelda game".
Dungeon Design: 8/10
Here's a special segment, just for this game. It's very self-explanatory, so I'll just jump right into it. Most of the dungeons are very well designed, just like the rest of the game, and even the dungeons I don't particularly like are still well-crafted and reasonably fun to explore. Most of them offer good surprises, clever puzzles, unexpected use of items in your possession, and challenging fights. Sometimes things get a bit frustrating, but I've noticed that only tends to happen if you rush too much. As long as you take your time and think, like any good adventurer should, you shouldn't have much trouble.
Here we are, the gameplay section. Everyone expects exploration, puzzle solving, combat, and Twilight Princess has it all. For exploration, you have lots to find. Golden bugs, poes, heart pieces... And as for those heart pieces, you now need five instead of four to make a new container. There's also puzzles, some of which span the entire dungeon you're in, some of which make your brain sizzle from so much thinking... And some that are so simple, but you were too busy thinking of extremely complicated ways to solve them. As for the combat, Twilight Princess certainly delivers. It's got what I'd call the best combat in a Zelda game, period, and lots of it. And even when you've seen all there is to see, and have conquered basically everything, a round with three Darknuts really takes it out of you! Still, I feel that Twilight Princess strikes that perfect balance of puzzles and fighting.
Now, at certain points, Link becomes a wolf. For the first part of the game, you're a wolf only in the twilight, and you have to return light to the land by finding the "Tears of Light". Wolf Link controls the same way as his human self, but has some abilities (and limitations) of his own. For example, wolf Link moves much faster, he can track scents, and he can see special things with his canine senses. But he can't use any items. Regardless, though, the wolf segments of the game add some variety, and that's good sometimes.
The boss battles, I must admit, are a bit lacking. Now, they look great. And they look intimidating, too. But once you're in there and you're fighting, and you realize just how to beat the boss (which shouldn't take you long), it's suddenly far too easy.
Okay, Twilight Princess is a really long game. REALLY long. Probably the longest Zelda game yet, even if you use a guide to play it. The first time you play it, it's a blast. But after that, the magic is gone. And there's no incentives to play a second time, like there was in Wind Waker. Of course, and this is why the score for this section is so high, you can still play and find everything. There's another Zelda staple, finding everything! That's what I'm doing. There's no point of no return, which I like. That's yet another Zelda staple, a certain freeness to the game. Do whatever you want. No restrictions. No nagging. Just have fun...
Twilight Princess is, without any doubt, an excellent game. Many years of hard work went into it, no doubt. Every 'big' console Zelda game (Legend Of Zelda, Link To The Past, Ocarina Of Time, Majora's Mask, and Wind Waker) has completely blown everything else away. Nothing can compare to the finely crafted masterpieces we know as Zelda games.
"Why didn't you give a a ten, then, CB?" You ask. It's simple. It's not a perfect game. It's incredible, it's fun, it's huge, and it's Zelda. But it isn't perfect. Nothing is. But you should still play it. For the Wii or the GameCube, it's the same game, but mirrored, even though the Wii supposedly offers better aiming and widescreen.
Have fun out there, and just make sure you don't compare it to Ocarina of Time. It can really kill the experience if you look at OoT as the definitive 3-D Zelda...
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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