Anyone who has made it through high school English should be familiar with Homers’ “The Illiad.” The epic poem detailing the Trojan War has been made in to countless adaptations on stage, in film, in comics and now, thank to Tecmo Koei, this generations of video games. Warriors: Legends of Troy takes gamers on a rather loosely interpreted trek through the Trojan country side, controlling various figures from The Illiad and Greek mythology while cleaving limbs from poorly outfitted citizens and the occasional hero. If this sounds like a formula Koei has followed before, well, you aren’t going to be surprised in the least.
Tecmo Koei has made a living out of its Dynasty Warrior franchise and formula for many years. Fans of the Warrior games know the ropes by now, and the game is still a button masher, risking the lifespan of your square button. However, Koei Canada tried to expand on the tradition by adding more characterizations and a more nuanced control scheme to breathe new life into the old tradition and help newcomers find excitement as well.
Legends of Troy’s subject matter is certainly well tread, but most people, myself included, have probably long forgotten the basics. You begin with the initial invasion of the Greeks on Trojan beaches. The Greeks, lead by Achilles, have come to liberate Queen Helen, the most beautiful woman on the planet, from the clutches of young Paris, prince of Troy. Whether Paris kidnapped Helen or she ran off with the younger man willingly is not important to her husband King Menelaus, he simply wants her back. While the story is certainly epic, there is not nearly enough of the battle in the original Illiad to make a full game out of, so Koei trades perspective between the Greeks and Trojans, ensuring that you will murder just as many people on both sides of the story, and since the ending is a foregone conclusion, you don’t need to pull for either side.
As with most Warrior games, the bulk of your time will be spent with your thumb glued to one button, your “quick attack.” The other face buttons are tied to different types of attacks, ones that damage shields, and ones that stun opponents, as well as your “Fury” gauge, which throws your warrior into a rage that causes stronger damage and lets you ignore an enemies defenses. Typical Warrior games have allowed players to breeze through on the easier settings simply using the quick attack. You can mow down waves of enemies with the right weapon, and simply pushing forward and attack was enough to get you through most areas, but Legends of Troy has made combat much more active by adding in varying enemies with different skill sets throughout your encounters, forcing you to use a wider range of attacks and strategies. Many enemies simply can’t be defeated with your primary attack. The periodic hero battles also add a different wrinkle to the combat. These bosses also force you to vary attacks and learn how to parry and dodge, as well as learn your enemy’s tactics in order to defeat them.
While the changes made were certainly appreciated, and at times effective, it still suffers from mind numbing repetition, keeping Legends of Troy from ever really taking flight. The movement of your characters, and the attacks specifically, are slow and plodding. Changing direction fights you with every inch, as does the camera. You are slow to move and slow to react regardless of what type of attack you execute. Your character must be turned to face an enemy, and once the attack begins, sheer inertia takes over. You go the direction your attack goes, sometimes too much, which makes keeping up with individual enemies a chore. The lock-on feature is fantastic for hero battles, but if you are not facing the enemy you want to attack directly, the camera simply shifts behind you. There is little room for error, and in large groups it simply locks where it wants to. Because of these issues, you often revert to simple button mashing out or frustration.
Each chapter has objectives which allow you to continue the story, as well as smaller challenges littered throughout. These are outlined by markers on your map, and always require you to run to them and simply destroy anyone or anything in your way. There are also mini-objectives in each chapter to help add excitement and challenge. However, the objectives were seldom outlined until after you failed, or were poorly illustrated, such as the battering ram you had to keep above fifty percent health, yet failed to give you a health bar or let you know how much damage it could take. This is another example of a great concept that should work to excite and give the player reason to replay the game, but fails in execution, offering nothing but frustration and annoyance.
The setting for Troy is certainly a departure, and it has some incredible art direction. However, the actual graphical detail leaves a lot to be desired. The animations, especially cut scene animations, look about five years behind. While the feel for the environments was great, and it was about time we got a new setting in the series, the acting made it impossible to take seriously. Names were pronounced a variety of ways, often in the same scene. One character says “Zeus,” and in the next breath his cohort says “Za-Us.” Odysseus, star of Homers other epic, has three different pronunciations throughout the game. While story is usually a smaller piece when discussing games, the inattention by the actors ruined the mood and feel of the game, which was initially its strongest point.
As mentioned above, you will switch between the Greeks and Trojans constantly, massacring Trojan citizens one chapter, then defeating hordes of Greeks in the next. This tactic, used to give the developers a way to create an entire campaign out of what is actually a far less action packed ten year siege, highlights how unimportant the characters and story are to the game itself. After a few hours, the combat, while much improved over its predecessors, still gets stale, and having no motivation or reason behind what you’re doing caused me to check out and start to play on auto-pilot.
In the end, Legends feels like a small step forward, but a step that should have come after the first or second Dynasty Warrior game, not over a decade later. Long time fans will find the new combat systems a blast, and will happily slaughter thousands once again. Everyone else will become quickly frustrated at the poor story and acting, the repetitive combat, slow movement and poorly outlined quests. Yet, if Koei can let its Canadian branch have more freedom to flush out the combat and formula even more next time around, we might see a brighter future for the Warrior series, and a much broader audience as well. The changes this time around show promise, but for the majority of gamers, there simply isn’t enough to make it worth their time. This time around at least.
|Some of the combat changes make for a few enjoyable battles. Fans will be more than satisfied.||Slow battle pace, repetitive combat, and poor acting make this difficult for anyone outside the target audience to enjoy|