Review by TomNook20

"Even a legend can fade."

Few games are able to garner as much respect from gamers across the world like Zelda can. From its early beginnings on the NES, to its latest release on the GC and Wii, the series has undergone a few changes, and it has stayed exactly the same in many ways. Sticking to the tired and true Zelda formula has produced many classics such as Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past, but could this formula for success also be the series' greatest curse?

Twilight Princess is the long awaited “realistic” Zelda game. Many fans were turned off by Wind Waker's cel shaded look, but were brought to tears during the first showing of Twilight Princess. The game looks great, and is definitely one of the best on the gamecube in terms of graphics. There are some bad textures throughout the game, but most people, including me, won't really care. Without a doubt, there has almost never been a game with expectations as high as Twilight Princess's. This was hyped to be the greatest Zelda game ever, and perhaps, the best game ever made.

Twilight Princess is most certainly a great game. It sticks to old traditions and offers the same great gameplay the series has had for as long as we can remember. Link will travel across the land of Hyrule, tackling numerous dungeons to stop Hyrule from being consumed by the Twilight Realm. This time, Link sports the new ability to transform into a wolf. When in wolf form, Link's sword attacks are replaced by savage attacks with his fangs. He will be able to use his heightened senses to track down people by their scents, and see things that are invisible to the human eye. I felt the wolf form was underdeveloped in this game, as it really did little to differentiate itself from playing as a Hylian. The fang attacks are almost exactly like Link's sword attacks, except they are weaker than the sword attacks for most of the game. Also, there are some points in the game that require you to collect "tears of light" in your wolf form which is a tedious task.

As for the dungeons, they still offer many unique puzzles and bosses. New items as well as returning ones from previous games are necessary to advance throughout each dungeon. While there is nothing really bad about the dungeons, I felt that they were too much like Wind Waker's dungeons in terms of difficulty instead of games like OoT and Majora's Mask. Many puzzles are interesting, but very obvious when it comes to solving them. In fact, the entire game was much too easy. The bosses looked really awesome, and when you fight one, you'll expect to be fighting an epic battle that will push you to your limits and exhaust your supply of hearts. However, this is not the case. Most bosses fall in 3 hits and do not require much thought to defeat. This was one of my major gripes about Wind Waker, and I was hoping that they would fix it in TP, but they didn't. The gameplay has more shortcomings besides the difficulty and wolf form. The game as a whole doesn't really emphasize exploration all that much, it is very linear. Pieces of heart are still there to collect, but other than that there are very few sidequests in the game. That said, this is the longest Zelda game ever, it took me a little over 40hrs. to complete.

One area where the gameplay improves on past games in the series is combat. Link will learn many new skills during the game that are key to defeating different enemies. Horseback combat is also present in this game, and while not a big part of the whole experience, it does come in at some key moments during the game, providing some epic battles. Not only the horse battles are epic, there are a couple of battles against a large group of enemies that seem to be inspired by western movies. Taking these enemies out from afar with your bow, knocking them down from towers by ramming into the towers with a wild boar, and blowing up explosives are all fun ways to do battle.

Twilight Princess starts out as a game with great potential for its story. As one could guess from looking at the title, the Twilight Realm is an important part of the game. This mysterious realm is slowly taking over Hyrule and is tied to important characters in the game. Link starts out the game in a small village where he is well liked by all of the inhabitants. There are many cinematic cutscenes and relationships that are scene in the early game that are a first for the series. Link has a close bond with many of the children in the village, and he is also has a person who he looks up to as a mentor. Unfortunately, these great story elements fail to develop throughout the game, as many of Link's childhood friends are phased out of the story and the whole cinematic flair is lost. One new character who does play an important role in the story is Midna. She acts sort of like Navi (Hey! Listen!) did in OoT, except she's less annoying. She will give you some helpful hints here and there. She also has a very unique personality. While most characters in this position are very positive and encouraging, Midna can be very condescending at times which is actually quite nice. Her role in the story is very big, in fact, the plot of the story revolves around her. She also plays a big role in the gameplay, as she is tied in to your Wolf form. It is disappointing that the story is not as epic as it could have been, but Zelda games have never been big on narratives anyway. It would have been nice if this game included voice acting. I know many fans are opposed to it, but with this latest entry in the series, it becomes apparent that voice acting would definitely help to convey the story better.

One area Zelda games have always been strong in is music. I know I'm starting to sound a bit repetitive, but the music, like many other things in this game, is just plain disappointing. Most compositions are completely forgettable, and many songs fail to enhance the game. There are a couple of decent songs, but not enough to save the whole soundtrack. Then there is the fact that the music is not orchestrated, but that's not a big issue, since it isn't even that good to begin with. The dungeon music especially is a letdown. Anyone who has played Ocarina of Time would know how much music can add to the atmosphere of a dungeon (like in the forest temple). The battle music in the twilight realm is horrid. It is basically a bunch of bleeps and bloops and it actually detracts from the entire experience.

I know I haven't made Twilight Princess sound like that great of a game, but trust me, it is a good game and it is a must play for any GC or Wii owner. As I said earlier in the review, this game had high expectations, and it really failed to deliver on almost all fronts when compared to those expectations. So while it might not be the best Zelda game ever, or the best game ever, it is still a great game, and it is much better than many other games out there. This franchise has had so many games, and while its old formula has worked so well for so long, its magic is starting to wear off. In the end, Twilight Princess tries too hard to be Ocarina of Time, instead of trying to forge its own identity. It may not be the game everyone was hoping for, but nevertheless, it is one worth playing.

Graphics: 9
Music/Sound: 6
Gameplay: 8
Story: 7
Value: 10
Entertainment: 9

Overall Score (not an average):9.0

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/09/07

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