Review by buruburu1

"A good Zelda entry that could've been best ever, but missed a last coat of polish."

Graphics (28/30, judged by era)- Nintendo's own games rarely score great points for fantastic 3d modeling or texturing. However, this is a very solid visual package, aided by fantastic dynamic lighting. The first time you see the foreground go dark as you look into a sunset—mirroring the way your pupil constricts in real life, you'll know what detail went into overall appearance. Certain areas, like towns, bustle with characters moving around and are the highlight of the overworld, which is otherwise pretty and large, but a little on the sparse side. That said, characters are largely motion-captured, which lends some realism to the movements, and the size of the world and dungeons does a lot to help the game's overall presentation. Coming at the very end of the GC's life, however, and seeing what Capcom was able to do with Resident Evil 4, there is still the feeling that a little more could've been crammed in.

Stylistically, a few odd choices were made. Chief among them was a sort of marriage to Metroid Prime: Echoes' aesthetic. Parts of the game--from the transition between light and shadow worlds, the creatures that come out of the vortexes, and the energy walls that occasionally entrap you—seem far more appropriate in a Metroid title. As well, the shadow world itself is so heavily soaked in softening filters and drab colors that it just gets muddied-up.

Sound- FX/Voice (8/10) Thankfully, once again Zelda eschews voice acting. The occasional outcry by a character is left in place, but beyond that sounds are ambient and generally well-done. Stereo separation is used very well in the game, and if you can find yourself playing with headphones or a nice loud stereo system, you'll find that the audio cues do help you, for instance in the insect-tracking side-quest.

Sound- Music (7/10) I was not surprised to see that Koji Kondo was not the only composer here—I can't say with certainty what parts he composed, but I'm guessing the main Hyrule Field theme is his. It also happens to be the best track in what is a long soundtrack. Unfortunately, many of the tracks do have the tendency to be ambient—often too ambient to be memorable at all, or even to add tension. Other successful tracks include remixes of songs from past games, some of them obscurely referenced.

Gameplay- Length/Replay (15/15) At 50 hours, this clocks in as perhaps the longest Zelda game to date. And that was without exhausting every side-quest. There seem to be more dungeons than have appeared in the last couple of titles, and traveling and exploring the world does take up quite a bit of time.

Gameplay- Story: (3/5) What could've been a much better story takes a few wrong terms in delivery. For starters, the game disconnects itself from earlier mythology—Zelda herself basically taking so much of a backseat that putting her in almost feels like she was forced into the title. Instead, you are saddled (at times literally) with Midna, a Gorillaz-looking character who babbles at you in Animal Crossing-speak, and who seems a bit disconnected from the Hyrule aesthetic. She doesn't care much about you, and yet you are compelled to do her bidding. This disconnects you from the world a bit since you don't like her very much. Only at the end when she is revealed and her world's plight made clear do you start to feel engaged—they really should've placed that portion of the story much earlier, since seeing Midna in her true form would give motivation to want to see her returned, particularly if she were more sympathetic.

Gameplay- Game Design (27/30)- Everything that makes a Zelda title is here, and that's a good thing. What is not here, at least to the extent seen in other titles, is NPC interaction. Hyrule itself, once you leave your hometown, ceases to be a real living place where people matter. Sure, there are NPCs that are integral to the plot, but it's a far cry from Majora's Mask, where each random townsperson was important and had their own story. Here, the NPCs are clearly window-dressing, and that does diminish the feel of the game. As well, side-quests are fewer and less compelling than they have been in the past. Finding insects is worthwhile, but for instance the Poe Soul collection game is far too long to be worthwhile. Fishing was added in, primarily to use the Wiimote on the Wii version of the game, and much effort was made to make it a deep side-game. However, it's just not that interesting and I rarely did any.

That said, boss battles are awesome, some of the best the series has seen, with so many varieties of environments and types of battle that I was constantly surprised and impressed there. Apart from them, however, the game is fairly easy. And though battling is still fun despite that ease, there isn't enough of it.

**Final Thoughts- This title had all the raw material to be the best Zelda game ever, but didn't quite manage it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/20/08

Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (US, 12/11/06)

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