I’ve played a few hours into this game and it’s weird … I’m surprised
at the fact that I can’t put it down. I wouldn’t call it a great game.
It’s an OK one. The thing I was most interested in was massive battles
where Link is surrounded by hundreds of bad guys. Even before they
announced this game I was thinking that battles like that are exactly
what Zelda needs. In Aonuma Zelda you can just run past the enemies on
your way to the next puzzle. How great would it be if there were lots of
enemies that you had to kill or they would kill you first?
Well, this really isn’t that game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
It really isn’t anything more than you should have reasonably expected
it to be. I have never played a Destiny Warriors game but I’d heard they
were repetitive. But I was not prepared for what it’s really like. You
literally run around mashing two buttons … the only variety you get is
that you can mash button A one, two, or three times before you mash
button B. What a disappointment! Zelda has always had combat that is
more sophisticated than this. With one sword button you can jab, slice,
chop downward, do a swinging jump. Not in Hyrule Warriors. Once I
finished the first level I was wondering “what was I thinking spending
$50 on this?” (I had a coupon)
It turns out you need to give the game a little time. Now I’m going to
take a second to point out one of the most important aspects of a game,
one that a lot of games get wrong. The first 15 minutes have to capture
you. Nintendo and Miyamoto in particular are great at this. In a Mario
game, on paper it would make sense to hold back the raccoon tail or cape
until you’ve progressed in the game a while. But you always get those in
the first level. From there you are hooked. This is also why Final
Fantasy games often have you controlling super powerful characters in
the opening of the game, to give you just a taste of what is coming
later. The best of all time is Link to the Past’s castle raid/princess
rescue during a pounding thunderstorm, with music that is only used
during this part. I’m sure you have examples too.
Hyrule Warriors doesn’t do this. It sucks to run around a super easy
mission doing the same attacks over and over as you find the next
highlighted bad guy. Only once I got 5 or so missions in, and lost, did
I realize that there is some interesting strategy. It reminds me of
Onslaught mode in Unreal Tournament where you capture spots on the map
so that your team can spawn there. Capturing a spot makes it easier to
take over the next one connected to it, until you finally reach the
base. In this game you don’t manage any other units so it’s really all
about deciding where you are going to help out, since everyone else
kills about 1 guy per minute and you can kill 300 in that time. That
part of it is pretty fun. The mechanics of actual combat are kinda
secondary to that, at least so far. It does expand in depth but I still
don’t have more than a couple attack options per character. Either way,
you can still run right past enemies as the point isn’t to prevent you
from getting anywhere, the point is that you have to kill them to
complete objectives. Hardly any enemies really feel dangerous. In this
it really is nothing like Zelda, or at least nothing like an ideal Zelda.
And it really is just a Dynasty Warriors game with Zelda. I wouldn’t
even call it a Zelda spinoff. The merge of the two series was by no
means seamless. At least that Zelda Crossbow game felt like it could
have been part of a larger Zelda game. Here, the Zelda items (bombs,
arrows) are clunky, ineffective, and really just work like keys to get
you past barriers. The characters are way too damn chatty (in a cruel
joke, “Hey listen” is back), and the new characters are pretty out of
place. The main one is ripped straight out of Final Fantasy X land with
a stupid 12-piece outfit and even flashes a peace sign when she performs
her special move. Instead of fruitiness intruding into our
western-fantasy-based world, it’s anime. Oh, I forgot the villain with
the mega tittz Jennifer Lopez dress with a v-neck that plunges to her
crotch. Yes, women dressed like that in feudal castle settings all the time.
I think what this game really is, is a testament to the power of player
development and strong content. Even in a game that feels mediocre, you
always have this feeling that if you play one more half hour, you’ll
unlock a cool new character or weapon or attack combo. That is right in
Zelda’s wheelhouse. If you take that feeling of progression and layer
Zelda stuff on top of it, it can still be pretty enjoyable. I do kinda
hope the game does well and that it makes Aonuma take notice. Something
like that. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not going to complain too
much–the rest of the Wii U library has not exactly blown my socks off.
Thanks for the review. I get the impression that the game is more ‘addictive’ than fun. But addictive is good too. The ‘getting new stuff’ makes you want to keep playing.
Speaking of Mario and the cape, the cape was not given to Mario in the first level. You had to get to Donut Plains to get the cape (World 2 essentially). What was given in first level was Yoshi.
Hyrule Warriors sounds like it has the issues I have with modern games. It relies on the addiction of ‘getting stuff’ as opposed to the play. I love Millipede for the NES because it is fun to play. There are no achievements to be unlocked.
Games seem to be no longer about gameplay but about watching bars fill up. It is even making me long for the ‘cinematic games era’. Sigh.