Developer: Omega Force/Team Ninja
Publisher: Koei Tecmo/Nintendo
Release Date: September 26, 2014
- Cinematic special attacks never lose their flair
- Gives the feeling of being an all powerful warrior
- Hundreds of different missions to complete
- Variety of characters to choose from
- Co-op can be a blast
- Gamepad potential is tragically lost
- Every mission dilutes to killing things quickly
- Repetitive nature can wear on you over time
- Frame rate drops when too much action hits the screen
When you think Zelda you think dungeons, puzzle solving, and heroic quests with memorable boss battles. The most you recognize in Hyrule Warriors will be characters and locations, and that is where your familiarity ends. Koei decided to take a different approach to the Legend of Zelda copyright with this game, focusing on massive armies and powerful warriors taking on hundreds at a time. Those familiar with Dynasty Warriors series know the gameplay experience offered. While the Legend of Zelda characters can be fun to play around in a Dynasty Warriors setting, the lost potential with this game is hard to shake off.
Surely this will hit one of them...
The story for Hyrule Warriors is anything but canon and I remain thankful for that; because what you play out makes no sense in any way. It begins familiar enough with Link gaining the hero clothes and triforce of courage, but his path to quell the swarm of evil forces is a peculiar one. Introducing a pair of twin sorceresses, Hyrule Warriors involves their abilities to open rifts to the other Hyrule eras, bringing in characters from Ocarina of Time to Skyward Sword. You then close the rifts, but takeover as Ganondorf, undoing everything you just did. You further complicate that by taking over Link again to undo what you just undid. Confused? I was too. The story is a mess, shoving as many iconic characters as you can shove into one title, repeating elements of previous Zelda games (seriously, how does it take you five levels to figure out Shiek is Zelda?), and ultimately culminating in a mess of a story.
The basics of Hyrule Warriors is taking control of a all around awesome general who charges into hundreds of AI, overtaking bases by eliminating the enemy presence in each one. While the story mode bottlenecks you into taking specific towers for victory, most will open up and allow you to venture all across the battlefield, moving to where you are needed most. Sometimes the enemy will send out waves of enemies to take your bases, in which you must plan out what takes priority; attack or defense. It is the bread and butter of Dynasty Warriors saga, but with Legend of Zelda characters. The most disappointing feature is the potential lost over the gamepad. The most you can do is see current missions, see fellow AI's health, and select items...that is all. You cannot control your armies to attack certain points or even get a gamepad view screen of the map.
|No more horsing around!|
Amidst the thousands of clone enemies you go against are some formidable baddies, and that is where your character and weapon choice have an impact. The character roster continues to expand as you play, eventually unlocking a total of 13 characters with DLC offering even more. Though the heroes will all feel powerful, they did have significant differences in their approach. Link is your basic all around, Shiek attacks fast and fierce, and Zelda utilizes stored power to unleash devastating area attacks. No one hero felt similar to the other, but all felt like powerful machines capable of turning the tide of battle. No matter who you choose, a selection of items such as bombs and boomerangs are at your disposal with the potential to power them up for more of an effect.
In addition to a Story Mode, there is a Legend mode in which you navigate the classic NES map square by square, completing missions and getting a rank based on your performance. Missions have more variety here with altered rules like one-hit KOs or participating in a "battle quiz" to progress to the next room. Your ranking is generally based on time, damage taken, and enemies taken eliminated; and each rank opens up different paths that can lead to new weapons and rewards.
At the end of each mode you will be rewarded with a stash of rupees and materials. These materials can be used on each character to add an additional special gauge, up their defense, and improve their overall performance. Rupees earned assist in this upgrade, but can also be used to level up a hero you have been neglecting, saving you from grinding each individual character one at a time. There are even golden skultullas that appear in every level dependent upon meeting certain battle conditions, and must be killed mid-battle to collect them. Combined together, it creates a huge checklist for competitions on the sheer scope of things to complete and collect.
Hyrule Warriors at its core is Dynasty Warriors with a Zelda skin, but still, I found myself having fun with the game. Even after the hundredth mission I would find special attacks still left me a feeling of satisfaction and the overall brunt of the game was a joy. The hack and slash nature of the game just wears on you after a time. It is unfortunate that more was not done with utilizing the Gamepad, but being able to play on it was also great for times when the television was needed. This game is no Legend of Zelda staple, but it is enough of a fan service to hold you off until a new Zelda title hits the console in 2015.