|System: Wii, GC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nintendo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Vaughn||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Vaughn Smith
Perhaps it is fitting that Twilight Princess was delivered to rabid Zelda fans in the same year the series celebrates its 20th anniversary. The Zelda series has always captured the imaginations of gamers both young and old with its focus on exploration and experimentation and like a gift from the gods of gaming, the latest adventure continues this wonderful time-honored tradition. Featuring a more mature Link than weve seen in recent years, Twilight Princess delves into darker themes with macabre overtones which earns the first Teen rating for the series. While its not approaching Resident Evil territory, Links latest quest is far heavier in tone than 2003s cel-shaded Wind Waker.
While Zelda pundits could pontificate endlessly where each separate Link adventure matches up in the overall timeline of the series, I find its best to check reality at the Start screen and let your imagination take over. If youve played at least two of the previous games to completion youll know what to expect, although thats not to suggest there wont be plenty of surprises along the way. Some have argued that the series has become a total rehash, but ask any self-respecting Zelda fan and theyll tell you they are quite fond of the recycling of concepts, characters, weapons and even locales in the series, such as the familiar dungeon settings - Fire Temple, Water Temple, Forest Temple etc. These elements are the foundation which each Zelda adventure is built upon and half of the fun is seeing familiar faces and places completely reinvented.
We are introduced to an older teenage Link this time around who earns his keep as a farm hand. Soon the stage is set for adventure when the land of Hyrule is plunged into perpetual twilight. Links involvement begins purely as an act of heroism in a bid to save some children, but with each vanquished foe the mystery widens and it becomes apparent that fate wants him to play a larger role in the history of Hyrule. Zelda games arent generally known for their deep engrossing stories, but Twilight Princess manages to keep you interested and guessing beyond its 40+ hour mark (longer or shorter depending on if you rush or take your time)
As Link youll have to undertake numerous quests and talk to lots of people to get clues as to what to get next. The game often hits you over the head with text clues as to what your next objective should be. If youre really stuck, Midna can always be contacted and shell give you a not so vague point in the right direction. Once again our hero remains stoic and silent, aside from the odd yelp here and there, but the NPCs youll encounter can be quite chatty. It can feel a little overwhelming having to sift through countless text boxes especially when you know most of it is filler, but for the most part the game provides you with objectives in other forms that dont require having to chat up the town drunk. Twilight Princess is the longest game in the series and there are no shortage of cool quests to tackle and players would be well advised to sit back and enjoy the entire ride.
The land of Hyrule is vast and conveniently Link already owns Epona, his faithful horse companion that many will remember from Ocarina of Time (N64). As in previous games Hyrule Field connects the various towns, ranches and other areas. Its quite a jaunt to go from one area to the next, which makes Epona particularly useful up until which time youll discover a way to warp between points of interest courtesy of your mysterious Twilight friend, Midna. Dont worry about leaving your trusty steed behind if you warp to another section, as Link can call Epona to his side simply by blowing into some grass or another implement which I wont reveal. It may not be an ocarina but it gets the job done. Players will also find other grass that can be used to call upon other animals.
Speaking of animals, our hero will find himself physically altered into the body of a wolf when he enters the Twilight sections for large portions of the game. As Wolf Link, he will no longer have access to his shield or weapons and will rely on feral attacks as well as receiving some offensive assistance from Midna who has a devastating attack of her own. Wolf Link must also rely heavily on his senses which can track scents and enable him to see things not visible to the naked eye such as ghosts, enemies and places to dig. Many of the Twilight puzzles are centered around these abilities and players wont get very far if they refuse to explore out of the way places.
Much has been written about the use of the Wii-mote in Twilight Princess and I have to admit I was not only extremely skeptical but slightly disappointed that Id be playing the next Zelda game with this odd contraption rather than a GameCube controller. My fears were eventually laid to rest when I found myself not only finding the control scheme completely intuitive, but over time realizing how much I preferred this new level of interaction over the traditional controller setup.