Thursday, December 29, 2011

First Impressions: Legenda of Zelda: Skyward Sword

There are no spoilers in this review.

I play Zelda games in order to run around fighting things while solving spatial puzzles. It's a franchise, which means I expect some level of deja vu between games, but it seems like most of the recent iterations in the series are focusing on the wrong aspects the game rather than refining the right ones. In fact, most of my pet peeves from Twilight Princess still have not been repaired. I'm about five hours into the game right now, having just reached the first dungeon, and here are my thoughts:

  1. Motion controls are still tacked on for the sake of legitimizing the Wii. This game even requires an extra accessory to make your Wiimote more accurate, but the precision of the controls will still never be as accurate as a good push of a button.
  2. The game still thinks I am 12, coloring in text and repeating important dialogue in duplicate and triplicate. There's more overemphasis in this game than in a high school production of Les Mis. I have learned (unskippably) that a red rupee is worth 20 rupees four times so far.
  3. A fairy continues to take you out of the action for useless interruptions like "He said that Zelda went to the temple. Maybe we will find her in the temple! Let's go to the temple."
  4. The biggest pet peeve I have is with the cutscenes, which are long, cinematic, and never skippable or even speed-controllable. Every iteration of Zelda tries to be more movie-like, and I'd estimate that three of my five hours of playtime have been spent watching dialogue or waiting through loading screens. If I wanted to watch something, I'd watch a show, not a Wii game.

On the plus side:

  1. When you do actually get to play the game, the action is fun, familiar, and well-paced.
  2. The introduction where you learn to play is still slow, but not Twilight Princess slow -- if that game were like trudging through the first third of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, this one is like watching the first third of Jurassic Park twenty years later when you already know that dinosaurs are involved. A minor improvement!
  3. The game is musically and graphically decent.
  4. The characters have much stronger facial animations now, which makes it easier to connect with the story, and less like you're wading through the mind of a crazy Japanese game developer.

Bottom Line: So far, this game is just as good AND bad as Wind Waker or Twilight Princess, and better than Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Based on what I've experienced, I expect that this game will get much better in spite of its problems, but I just wish it didn't have to take so long to get there. Although nothing about it makes me want to run home after work and start playing (see also, Skyrim), I'll probably play it to completion at a leisurely pace.

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 1 comment


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