GAME REVIEW: HYRULE WARRIORS / DEVELOPER: OMEGA FORCE, TEAM NINJA / PUBLISHER: KOEI TECMO, NINTENDO / PLATFORMS: WII U / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Playing out as the Crisis on Infinite Earths of the Zelda franchise, Hyrule Warriors sees a new threat arising in Hyrule. Falling to the dark influences of Ganondorf, the sorceress Cia opens the Gate of Souls, a portal to various points throughout the timeline. Now the heroes of Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword must ally to prevent the Triforce from falling into Ganondorf’s hands.
As you might have guessed from that description, what’s here is little more than an excuse for gratuitous fan-service but it’s hard not to grin as the nostalgia kicks in. From the classic themes to remade locations, what’s here is everything a Zelda fan would want despite the shift to a far more combat focused experience of fighting vast armies.
While the core gameplay itself ultimately boils down to Warriors-style button mashing through waves of mooks, the developers took steps to make battles far more visually rewarding. Rather than just slashes, hacks and the odd air-juggling from combos, each character offers their own set of gratuitously explosive abilities, from summoning machine-gunning deku sprouts to giant pillars of ice.
Delivering these is less about simply whaling on an especially heavily armoured foe until they fall and instead exploiting openings in their defences. Dashing past a darknut or lizalfos after it’s overreached itself opens up a summoning gauge which must be rapidly depleted before a special attack can be made. It gives the title more substance than some of the other Warriors titles out there, requiring a little more strategy and timing than the average release. This is enhanced by the odd classic boss fight which calls back to the same strategies originally used to defeat them, with all the expected secondary weapons putting in an appearance.
This said, this is still a Dynasty Warriors game and anyone lacking interest in that series will find little to really offer them here. If you’ve yet to enjoy a release from Omega Force’s past efforts, this one is not going to sell you on their big franchises. While picking it up might seem appealing, the experience will likely wear thin long before the end. Furthermore, even without comparing it to the modern generation there are definite points throughout the title where the Wii U’s dated hardware shows through. While beautifully animated, odd issues such as the strings on Zelda’s harp not moving during the opening cutscene can immediately take you out of the experience.This is very much a love it or hate it title with little middle ground, but any lifelong Nintendo fan should give this one a look before delivering their verdict.