Game of the Year: “The Legend of Zelda: “Twilight Princess

Well folks, I’ve saved the best for last. It’s been three years since the release of “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker,” and many fans were more than disappointed with the direction the game had taken. After being teased, taunted, and tested, the gaming community now has access to “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” for the Nintendo Wii. Nintendo promised fans a game that would rival “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” along with a much darker story line than its predecessor, “Wind Waker.” Nintendo has delivered and “Twilight Princess” is nothing short of a masterpiece, constantly outdoing itself throughout the course of gameplay.

Of course, the big hype over “Twilight Princess” is the controls. Being released on the Wii allowed programmers to include motion controls, which adds a whole new level of depth to the Zelda series. The most satsifying and just plain fun of these new gameplay mechanics is swordplay. In previous “Zeldas”, gamers would simply tap a button to swing Link’s sword. Nonetheless, the gameplay never lost its edge, at least in my opinion. Now, however, you hold Link’s sword and shield in your hands via the Wii Remote and Nunchuk attachment. To slice, simply swing your remote through the air. Want to thrust your sword at foes? Simply walk slowly using the control stick on the Nunchuk, and thrust your Wii Remote forward. How about a barrage of attacks by making Link spin in a circle, swinging his sword? Just shake the Nunchuk back and forth.

The great part about all of this is that it still feels like “Zelda.” The controls don’t take you out of the experience by making gameplay troublesome rather they add to the depth and involvment and draws the player in like never before.

The game constantly outdoes itself as well. Just when you think you’ve seen the coolest scene or acquired the best weapon, something else tops it, right through the very end. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll stick to topics addressed in trailers and the manual. Horseback riding returns in “Twilight Princess,” but this time has far more depth. Just as in “Ocarina of Time” and “Majora’s Mask,” Link can shoot arrows while on his trusty steed Epona. However, new to “Twilight Princess” is Link’s ability to use his sword while mounted. With this new technique, you can now cut the straps from opposing riders’ saddles, thus dismounting them. Believe me, you could spend hours entertaining yourself by riding around the overworld slicing moblins off their oversized hogs.

Along with all of this, Link also transforms into a wolf in “Twilight Princess,” a result of being dragged into the mysterious Twilight Realm. With this new form comes new abilites that will make you wonder how this game could possibly be related to “Wind Waker” at all. While attacking in wolf form, Link will lunge at enemies’ throats, then precede to tear at them bite by bite. Being a wolf also grants Link the ability to detect what normal human senses cannot, such as the dead and certain scents. This is clearly a more mature Link in “Twilight Princess,” something that fans have been begging for more than eight years now.

Honestly, if you weren’t interested in buying a Nintendo Wii, this is the reason to pick one up. If you were planning on buying Wii or already have one, this is a must have launch title, possibly one of the best launch titles of all time. But here’s the million dollar question, “Is ‘Twilight Princess’ better than ‘Ocarina of Time?'” Honestly, that’s unanswerable for me. “Ocarina of Time” was the first “Zelda” game I ever played, so it holds a great deal of nostalgic value. What I can say is that “Twilight Princess” is exactly as fun and exactly as great as “Ocarina.” If I could give this game more than a 10 I would. From start to finished, “Twilight Princess” will have you glued to your T.V. begging for just one more dungeon or just one more boss. The bottom line: 10/10.

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