The Legend of Zelda - Twilight Princess - Review

Zeldasages.com Review by Webmaster Bob
For more information on how Zelda Sages reviews games see the ZS QA

In the peaceful Ordona Province a young wrangler prepares to set out on a journey to Hyrule. His duty is to present a sword to the royal family, as a gift for the upcoming festivities. All seems well, his peers and village children are all proud. Yet, a sudden attack on the village Spring sends our hero flying into a world unlike any other, a world which turned him from man...to beast.

Story
Twilight Princess is simply one of those games where you can see a true tale unfold before your very eyes. You begin the game knowing only of your mission to bring a sword to the royal family of Hyrule. Shortly after, the story takes a turn over in loops. There are so many plot twists within the Twilight Princess story I can't keep track of them all. A good deal of the story is told through cut scenes throughout the game, many of which are surprisingly violent and sometimes downright scary. You will see elements emerge that you would have never expected in a Zelda game. From beginning to end the game portrays the tales of twilight and Midna's true motives very well, with a good deal of scare and humor mixed in. Near the middle of the game, Zelda dans will be treated to a rather predicatable story twist which, for me, left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.  Longtime fans can probably guess at what I'm talking about, which in itself is not a huge issue, but the turn is thrown in rather abruptly.  With this in mind, the game still has a great story, but should have worked on the execution a bit more. 9/10.

 

Gameplay
Twilight Princess takes every element from previous installments in the series and improves upon them. We've seen the hookshot, it is arguably one of the favorite tools among Links arsenal to many. We've seen this item again and again, so what does Nintendo do? Why, they give you duel hookshots so even Link can pull of the moves of Peter Parker. Horseback has also returned with your trusty steed Epona. This time however you will not simply be riding Epona, you will be battling with sword in hand. There are many events throughout the game, including a portion of the final battle, which require you to use horseback combat. This is probably one of the most fun and exciting new gameplay features. I can't remember having so much fun on Epona! Link also has the ability to steel enemy boars, which is required for several puzzles as boars have far more...lets say destruction power then Epona. You'll also find item fusion is available. For example, let's say I have the Hawkeye, an item which allow me to see great distances, and combine it with my bow. I just created a sniper! You can only fuse certain items, however it makes for some very interesting weaponry. There are also several new weapons and gadgets introduced in Twilight Princess, like the spinner. This device allows you to glide up and around spinner tracks to reach distant spots. It also gives you the ability to operate cogs, which appear as part of several puzzles. There are also many more new items, one of which lets just say will make you feel like your staring in your own version of Kill Bill.

The weapons are truly amazing, but thus far I've only spoken of a small portion of the gameplay. Early in the game, Link sets foot into the Twilight Realm, where he is transformed into a wolf, unlike everyone else who becomes spirits. Very early on, you meet up with Midna, a small Twilight Realm resident whom sets you free and asks for your aide in exchange for hers. While in wolf form you are given several unique abilities, the coolest being the sense ability. Using sense, you can see hidden enemies, spots to dig for treasure, the suffering spirits in the Twilight Realm, and very late in the game dead souls who will aide you by pointing. Much of the Twilight portion of gameplay revolves around collecting tears of light, which will restore light to a specific portion of Hyrule. Although these are not the most fun portions of the game, Twilight Princess makes up for it by introducing a bulk of story during these events. This new form also requires you to think differently, and use your wolf form in different ways to solve puzzles. You'll also find it useful that while in wolf form, Midna will ride on your back and perform several duties, including creating an energy field to enclose your enemies in for a quick strike attack. Later in the game, you will gain the ability to transform between human and wolf as you please, or at least almost as you please. To keep with realism, you can not transform or warp in areas heavily populated by people having to go to an ally or small corner, which is a very nice touch to the game.

In the beginning, Twilight Princess was designed to be a Gamecube title. However, Nintendo made the move to push Twilight Princess for the new Nintendo Wii. This gives depth of control unlike that in any other Legend of Zelda game. Swinging the controller swings your sword, shaking the nunchuck attachment performs a spin attack. Aiming is also greatly improved. Once your fire your first slingshot round using the Wiimote, you'll never want to go back to the inverted aiming from previous games in the series. Surprisingly, swinging the controller around is not tiring at all, especially since you only have to swing at a certain speed for it to register as a sword slice. You are also given an on screen fairy for easier navigation and menu selection, however this can be turned off in options if you find it annoying.  My only complaint about gameplay overall, Hyrule Field is huge, but rather barren.  For a 2006 game, much more could have been done to create a more engaging Hyrule Field.  Nevertheless, Twilight Princess is a fantastic game to play. 9/10.

 

Sound
From the Ordona Province to Hyrule Field the game scores will be stuck in your head for a long time to come. Although there is only one live orchestral piece in the game, the music is still simply amazing. The opening title screen for example provides a chilling, yet beautiful melody in combination with the action to create a stunning piece. A good deal of what you hear contains similarities to previous Zelda games, and I almost have a suspicion that two of the songs were re-used from Ocarina of Time. However, it was good music then, why not now. Aside from these two songs, the rest of the game contains a good deal of original remixes and new sounds. Some of what you will hear is simply beautiful and unquestionably some of Nintendo's best work. With the Wii, you can also hear the sound of Midna through the controller, as well as your sword slashing, hookshot sticking, really anything you can use in the game. Still, it really is time for Nintendo to create a completely orchestral soundtrack for the Zelda series.  I can't help but imagine how much more huantingly beautiful the Twilight Princess music could be if only it were played by a real orchestra. 

For the continuation of the brilliance in music the series is noted for, we award a 9/10.

 

Graphics
Twilight Princess was first developed for the Gamecube, and it is easy to tell. Nevertheless, what you will see is absolutely stunning. Never before has a Zelda game been so, simply put, beautiful. From the water effects to the characters themselves, everything is very life-like. The Wii version also contains a few minor improvements, such as better bloom lighting and smoother characters. Every character is also very expressant, even more so in some cases than Wind Waker. Every effect and style was done simply beautifully, and although not up to what the Wii can accomplish, Twilight Princess is still a first generation Wii game and is the best looking Zelda game out on the market (as of the writing of this review). We could not award anything less than a 10/10.

 

Overall
The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess is a fantastic game, plain and simple. This is certainly the most "epic" game the Zelda team, let alone Nintendo, has ever produced. You will be quickly drawn into the game through stunning cinema, and end it in the most epic final battle I have ever played. Even with a few fualt in the story, the lack of an orchestral score, and the too large for its own good Hyrule Field, you will find yourself enjoying Twilight Princess for months.  The game has ahuge amount of content, and exploring all it has to offer is half the fun.  Although not exactly living up to the hype, Twilight Princess is a fantastic addition to your library regardless of whether you purchase it for the Gamecube or Wii.

 

*Scores weighed differently total 100%*