Thursday, 2 October 2014

Hyrule Warriors: The Game I Didn’t Know I Wanted

Pros: Tight Controls and Flashy Animations, Tons of Content, Couch Co-op
Cons: Enemy Pop-In, Occasional Framerate Dips on Gamepad, No Playable Tingle

Total Rating: 85/100 Spin Attacks

I’m setting a dangerous precedent by starting off my posts with heavy praise (don’t worry, I hate ALL KINDS of things), but Hyrule Warriors is scratching an itch that I had no idea was there. Now granted, The Legend of Zelda series has a strong enough track record that I’ll always optimistically anticipate a new release, and I’ll even admit, in a (mostly) unashamed way, that I’ve long loved Dynasty Warriors, despite its crappy voice acting and fear of innovation. My cautious optimism (a best case scenario in the world of rushed releases and deceptive trailers), however, was ill prepared for just how much FUN I’m having playing this game.

Now what part of this DOESN'T look fun?
For those of you who are unaware, the basic premise of every Dynasty Warriors game since the dawn of time is to assume the role of a legendary Chinese hero (or Gundam, or pirate, or Trojan, or samurai, depending on your title of choice) and go on a rampage of weapon flourishes and backflips, cutting down swaths of enemies in your path. Every once in a while you run into “officers” that require more than a gentle kiss on the forehead to defeat. Each map is a large scale battle, with your army and the enemies’ army fighting for whatever is going on in the – fairly sparse – story. Hyrule Warriors has taken this idea of mowing down hapless grunts with flashy attacks and blended it with the cast, setting, and story of a Legend of Zelda title (the nuances of which it doesn’t seem necessary to explain) to create a tight, fast, magnificently fun gaming experience.

And creepy. Occasionally very creepy.
Now this isn’t a main series Zelda title, and shouldn’t be taken as such. There are no puzzles to speak of, and it definitely handles like a Warriors game rather than a Zelda game (though you still can’t manually jump, a design decision that amuses me to no end). I don’t think, however, that this is a bad thing. Playing around with the standard template of Nintendo’s heavy-hitting IP’s has resulted in some fantastic games – Metroid Prime comes immediately to mind. And while Hyrule Warriors is no Metroid Prime, it’s still a great time. The standard Zelda story is there: Zelda goes poof, a great evil threatens the land (this time in the form of a rather ‘chestily’ inclined sorceress by the name of Cia), and Link and his friends step up to save the world once again. 

Hey, if I had all the powers of a god, I'd make 'em big too!
An interesting twist (existing in order to pull characters from previous games) is the opening of “portals” into three different times – The Age of Myth (Ocarina of Time), the Age of Twilight (Twilight Princess), and the Age of Sky (Skyward Sword). Rather than forcing you to assume the role of our favourite green-hatted fairy boy, however, Hyrule Warriors borrows from its Dynastic roots by allowing you a selection of other playable characters from the series, including Zelda, Impa, Sheik, and a host of others, each with their own unique movesets. The combos are set up like in the familiar Dynasty Warriors “Tree” pattern, with heavy attacks following light attacks to create different moves, and while there definitely can be some variation in gameplay between characters, it’s not so much as to be overwhelming. You’ll likely find a favourite one or two, but each character is similar enough to the others that switching is painless. As with other Warriors games, however, it can start to get a little “samey” eventually, depending on your taste for that sort of thing.

Unless you like break dancin'. Then Sheik's your gal.
The game looks wonderful on the Wii U, and the character designs and animations are top notch, though I wish that the developers had chosen (or been able) to show more enemies on the screen at once. A trap that Dynasty Warriors often ran into with its dozens of characters was repetitive animations and weapons. Not so here, the reduced cast of 13 (soon to be 16 with the 3 patched in villains being added in the next few weeks) each looks and feels like the characters Zelda fans are used to. I hesitate to go into greater detail for fear of spoiling too many of the unlocks, but each cast member has been badass (or laughable) in their own unique way, and I applaud Nintendo and Koei-Tecmo on some of the more… interesting choices.

Fear her, for she is your queen.
At its core, however, Hyrule Warriors is a Warriors game, and if you’ve played every Dynasty Warriors game to date and hated them all (as is the case for many), you’re unlikely to find what you want here. If you love the Warriors games, you’re on the fence, or just a fan of the Zelda series, Hyrule Warriors is a GREAT time, loaded with content (14 story maps, over 100 “adventure” scenarios, and a challenge mode being added to regularly) for single player OR couch co-op (The second player uses the Wii U gamepad screen, which is kind of neat when it comes to maintaining aspect ratio and screen real-estate). There’s no deep storytelling or artsy metaphors, but there is a whole lot of Stalchild slayin’ and Moblin maimin’, and I don’t need much more than that.

There's also the occasion Lizalfos leapin' Links, but we try not to talk about them.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't even know this was a Warriors title... thank you so very much.