Review by Arkrex
"Truly a link to the past"
In the land of Hyrule there exists an ancient legend. Every few hundred years, a corrupt evil brews while a courageous hero blossoms. Central to this story is a princess; her name is Zelda. However, with the aforementioned polar opposite powers, namely the Gerudo thief, Ganondorf, and the elven youth, Link, tugging at the ropes of fate towards their respective ends, nothing but the most epic of epics is generated as a result. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is the latest and greatest action-adventure to be born from this eternal struggle between good and evil. We all had high expectations for Link's latest high jinks, but does it meet our ever-increasing standards? Does it topple the legend that is Ocarina of Time? Does it feature cute little cuccos that fight back with a vengeance after a poke and prod too much? At least one answer to those questions is a resounding yes', but wouldn't you like to know more...
Every day, young Link goes off to work in the remote village of Ordon. He is the town's star wrangler, tasked with the daily herding of the goats into the barn, never failing, never complaining, and never wondering what life would be like outside of this little rural community he calls home. That is, until one fateful day when his girlfriend and a couple of his little chums are whisked away by a malignant force hailing from the enigmatic twilight realm. Armed with a sword and shield, and the fact that his name is Link', which means that he must be the only person capable of destroying this new evil, Link leaves Ordon and begins his walk of fame.
His journey brings him across the biggest recreation of Hyrule ever seen before. The moment you step out onto Hyrule Field, squinting and still barely able to make out Death Mountain in the distance, you'll be glad that your trusty steed, Epona, is by your side. As you traverse a seemingly endless desert or swim through the depths of an expansive lakebed, you'll marvel at the enormity of it all, as well as the radiant dreamy glow that is stylishly present all throughout this latest reenvisioning.
However, evil is aching so time is not for wasting. The guts of this legend follows that of every other Zelda game that has come before it. In order to defeat the hostile twilight foe, Link will have to brave a number of themed dungeons where countless minions lie in wait for a piece of heroic flesh, and where a multitude of tricky puzzles and deathtraps remain motionless, patiently awaiting a foolhardy traveller to set them off and bring about their potential wrath. Each dungeon follows the same formula of locating a map, a compass, a special weapon and, finally, a boss key that unlocks the door to the guardian that must be put down if peace is to be restored to the land.
But all is not equal. The Forest Temple is littered with dense foliage and broken bridges, requiring an astute mind to locate concealed valuables or cross outstretched gaps, with only a boomerang that generates wind and a parade of little monkeys at your disposal. The Goron Mines is a hazardous, complex zone with seemingly impassable platforms that can only be overcome by a combination of switching on magnetic cranes and donning a pair of iron boots to literally walk on walls. Every dungeon has its own unique quirk, and consequently, each one needs to be tackled with very different approaches.
Another Zelda tradition is the dual-world concept: the light/dark worlds, the past/future time periods, the miniature/macro lands. In Twilight Princess, we have the Twilight Realm, but it's a little different this time. Regions of Hyrule that are consumed by this otherworldly force will convert our fully kitted-out Link into a more humble wolf form. In this state, his impressive swordsmanship is no longer a valid offense. Instead, he'll have to make do with graceful dives, tactical tackles and raw mastication with his doubled-up dentition.
His companion in this foreign environment is a somewhat irrepressible twilight being going by the name of Midna. She will be your guide in this adventure, informing you of where to go or who to visit next. She is essentially Twilight Princess's hint system, but without the annoying heys of Navi (Ocarina of Time) or the lameness of a talking hat. Midna also plays a crucial role to the storyline, so even though you may be initially freaked out by her deceitful smile and hideous laugh, she will grow on you. I have placed her as one of my favourite supporting cast members in the Zelda universe, as I'm sure you will do too.
To eliminate the clouds of twilight, the Gods ask that you retrieve their tears of light. For most of your time as a wolf, this is what life's all about. You run through desolate towns, raiding houses, digging holes, even accidentally' blowing up an explosives storage depot, all in the name of these tears, which for some reason are holed up within electrocuting insects that you'll have to rip apart. It is essentially a fetch quest, and there are a few of them. Luckily, they are reasonably short affairs and before long, you'll be back in your green garb ready to kick some bigger butt.
Must you know more? Has this taste of pure excellence stirred up a burning desire within you? Wouldn't you like to experience the rest that this legend has to offer, for yourself?
It has been said that Twilight Princess is but a mere shadow of what is arguably the greatest 3D action-adventure of all time - Ocarina of Time - but what a magnificent host that is to follow! Although it isn't quite as thrilling as that first time you set foot upon Hyrule Field, and even though the lack of minigames and sidequests is disappointing given the high quantity and quality which was present in its aged predecessor, and sure, it may not be much of an evolution for such a lofty, world-renown franchise that marks both swan song for the GameCube and killer app for the Wii, but hey - no change to near-perfection results in near-perfection, right?
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is without a doubt, one of the finest games to grace my humble existence. It manages to take on what age-old principles were practiced in the past and fuse them together with a beauty only made possible with current-day technology. Beauty, however, only runs skin deep, but then there's so much more to Twilight Princess that meets its darkened eye.
Take heed - this may be the last we ever see of a 3D Zelda that's played in this way. The DS has shown a decisive change for the franchise already; who knows what more Nintendo's innovative stance will bring to us in the future? As such, go and play this game with an open mind. Enjoy the time spent crawling through vicious dungeons full of vile creatures, solving intricate puzzles with some of the most creative item and environmental solutions ever imagined, listening in to countless timeless melodies echoing amidst a pool of glorious new waves, and rest easy - simply to relive The Legend of Zelda as it is now, but still like how it was then.
VERDICT - 9.5/10 To be continued?
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 10/08/07
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (AU, 12/19/06)
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