By Tyler Lubben / October 3rd, 2014
|Developer||Omega Force, Team Ninja|
|Publisher||Koei Tecmo, Nintendo|
|Release Date||September 26, 2014|
|Genre||Hack ‘n’ Slash|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Teen|
After The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword back in 2011, fans have been eagerly anticipating a new release in the series. Rereleases like Ocarina of Time 3D and Wind Waker HD are nice, but I, for one, have been looking for something completely new to sink my teeth into. While Nintendo is still hard at work on the new Zelda title for Wii U, Omega Force and Team Ninja (with supervision from Zelda director, Eiji Aonuma) have filled the gap with Hyrule Warriors, a Dynasty Warriors spin-off featuring characters, settings and weapons from the long-running action-adventure franchise. It’s something new, to be sure, but will it appease fans who have been waiting for a new outing starring the Hero of Legend?
Anyone who has ever played a Warriors game before will immediately feel at home in Link’s boots. Battles start out with players on the blue side and their enemy on the red. Armies of soldiers fill the map, and players can blow away whole platoons with minimal effort using their powerful attacks. However, little will be accomplished simply doing this. Players will have to storm enemy keeps found throughout each map. Here, they will need to defeat soldiers inside the keep, which will whittle down its life force. Once it has been depleted, the Keep Boss will appear. Once this slightly stronger soldier has been dealt with, the player’s army will take control of the keep, and their own soldiers will begin spawning from it. Victory is usually achieved by either taking a certain keep or defeating the opposing force’s heroes. Defeat is also a constant concern, so players will have to be aware of defeat conditions, like protecting other heroes or making sure their home base doesn’t fall to enemy forces.
Like I said, this will all be familiar to Warriors fans, but does it translate well for fans of the Zelda “genre?” Well… yes and no. As far as the core gameplay, players not used to the Warriors formula are sure to find it highly repetitive. There is very little variety between battles; fight soldiers, capture keeps, protect your own assets. However, elements in both the story and gameplay are intended to make the game more accessible to Zelda players new to Warriors gameplay. The most immediately noticeable example of this is that, when starting up the game, players are able to choose between a Warriors Style and a Zelda Style of gameplay. All this does is change what the four face buttons do, but it can make a huge difference for people unused to the Warriors style of controls. Zelda Style makes the game feel more like playing Ocarina of Time, with B being your attack button and A being your dodge/run. It’s a minor thing, but it goes a long with to help new players ease into it.
Hyrule Warriors has a pretty basic plot. Princess Zelda has a deadly premonition of Hyrule being enveloped in darkness, so she and her bodyguard, Impa, decide they must find the one who will be the Hero of Legend. How fortunate that he just happens to be a soldier training at the castle. Just then, the kingdom is invaded by the armies of a powerful sorceress named Cia. Driven by her desire to make Link her personal boytoy, Cia is out to collect all three pieces of the Triforce and take over the world. I suppose people have set out on the path of world domination for worse reasons.
After the battle, Zelda goes missing, so Link and Impa set out to both locate the princess and drive back Cia’s forces. Along the way, the team meets up with the mysterious Sheik and the sorceress Lana. Eventually, the good guys battle it out with Cia, but, after trapping the group, she takes the Triforces of Courage and Wisdom from Link and Sheik (for some crazy reason) and opens magical portals to different locations throughout time and space to rebuild the life force of a powerful, evil foe who is secretly pulling Cia’s strings (I’ll give you one guess who it is). At this point, Link and co. split up to explore the worlds of Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword to find allies in their fight against Cia and close the portals. Like I said; pretty basic.
Hyrule Warriors contains two main modes that players will be exploring – Legend Mode and Adventure Mode. Legend Mode is the main story, where players will follow Link, Zelda and their friends as they fight Cia and her hordes of monsters to save Hyrule. While each story scenario still boils down to what I talked about earlier, the game does seek to break up the action a little by including elements from classic Zelda games. Aside from the regular weapons each character has, they will have access to a variety of classic tools, such as Bombs, a Bow and the Hookshot. These can be used to attack enemy soldiers, aid in exploration and also defeat large bosses that the game will throw at players from time to time.
Longtime Zelda fans will have no problem knowing how to use these tools against the bosses. Things like throwing bombs into the King Dodongo’s mouth or shooting Gohma in the eye will be second nature. Legend Mode also contains multiple difficulty settings, which I played through on Normal. I didn’t find any of the story scenarios particularly difficult, though, if you’re looking for more or less of a challenge, it’s also possible to change the difficulty to Easy or Hard with a press of the X button on the Stage Select screen. Hero difficulty also becomes available after completing the story. Be aware, though, that the quality of rewards you receive is directly related to the difficulty on which you play.
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