It's that time of year again! No, not Thanksgiving, it's time for all the great holiday video game releases. I've put in a few hours into the new Legend of Zelda game for the Nintendo Wii, Skyward Sword. Here are some of my initial impressions:
Graphically the game takes a little step forward from Twilight Princess. The game stylistically is a combination between Twilight Princess and maybe The Wind Waker. The graphics are a little smoother than the last outing and a little more colorful. Probably the prettiest game on the system thus far but still obviously lagging behind what the PS3 and XBOX 360 can do.
Fully orchestrated music! Finally. This is first Legend of Zelda game that takes advantage of a fully orchestrated score and the update is a very welcome one. I haven't heard too many melodies from previous games yet but the music is a fantastic upgrade. In addition, the game comes with a bonus CD of The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony, containing eight tracks from various games in all their symphonic glory. Very cool.
The controls take advantage of Wii Motion Plus, meaning that every move with the wand is in true 1:1 ratio. Simply put, however you move the controller, your sword follows the exact same movement in the game. Puzzles can be solved and enemies can be defeated in exacting ways depending on how you slice or jab with the controller. Indeed this is a huge jump for the series especially when it comes to combat. Most foes will block your thrusts forcing the gamer to attack in precise and differing ways rather than just rattling the Wii remote back and forth.
The game takes its sweet time getting to the action. There's a very long intro/tutorial to the game that takes about an hour before the true story unfolds. While this to be expected, especially after playing the last two installments in the series, it's still a little frustrating for the eager gamer.
From what I've played so far the game is very linear. The adventure seems to go directly from one place to the next without much open ended exploration left to the gamer. Hopefully this will change as the story moves forward as has been the case with previous Zelda games.
Initially the difficulty seems to be much higher than previous games. Once I finally made my way to the first boss in the first dungeon I literally died at least a dozen times trying to figure out the best means of success. I consider myself a fairly good gamer yet I found myself cusing quite a bit as my ass was handed to me by a foe or while I scratched my head trying to figure out how to progress. I've also found that hearts are less prevalent in this game meaning that it's worth taking along regenerative items before tackling a new area or dungeon.
Overall a great initial reaction to a series I adore. Better graphics, outstanding music, and precise control makes this a worthy addition to the franchise so far. Best Zelda yet? Of that I'm unsure but I'm ready to devote 60 game hours to find out!