**WARNING – FIRST HOUR REVIEWS MAY CONTAIN CHARACTER OR PLOT SPOILERS**
Format – Wii U
Price – £59.99
Into action – 2mins to first take control. 10mins to the first battle.
+ Great visuals
+ Initiative rewarded when fighting foes
+ Rewards the resourceful player
+ Faster than expected load times
– Frame rate drops during action
– Camera controls are clunky
– Resolution on the Wii U gamepad is low
Hard to believe it’s been a staggering 6 years since we last had a new Zelda title for home consoles! Has it been worth the wait? The apprehension wasn’t enough to convince me to part with £279.99 for the new Nintendo Switch, but I did part with £59.99 for a previous gen version of the game for Wii U. That’s probably the most I’ve ever paid for a single video game (apart from collectors editions)!
The First Hour
The game starts with a hazy, dream like cinematic sequence, which sees the main protagonist Link awoken by a mysterious voice (Navi?), in an ancient tomb. The tomb is marked with ancient symbols, curiously glowing, that light the dim cavern. After a couple of minutes you’re given the controls to navigate your way through the tomb and out into the open world. It’s during this sequence you acquire the appropriate adventurer attire, the mysterious Sheikah Slate and get to grips with Link’s controls, including the new sprint move and stamina gauge al la GTA.
5mins in and you reach the over world – The Great Plateau. You’re lead to the edge of a cliff where the cut scene takes over and scans the picturesque open world that we’ve see in the early development gameplay videos to date. Then the games logo appears. It’s now you realise that this Zelda is going to very special indeed.
The controls are then back over to you, where you stumble into the games first NPC named simply ‘Old Man’. As with many Zelda characters you feel he has a bigger part to play, rather than the old hermit ‘Obi Wan’ esq character, he portraits himself to be.
15mins in and I find myself in the first Bokoblin fight. It’s one on one and I’m armed with the Old Man’s trusty wood axe. In a blind, sweaty palmed, panic I hit the wrong button on the Gamepad and inadvertently launch my axe at the little critter. Smash! The axe breaks on impact. Frustratingly it didn’t kill the Bokoblin, but he took a lot of damage. I then switch to my back up weapon I picked up moments earlier, a stick. A STICK! A STICK! What the actual….. OK, this will just have to do. I swung the stick aimlessly and landed the final blow. I’d survived, only loosing half a heart in the scrape.
30mins have now passed and I find myself walking through the ruins of the old Temple of Time. In game time, it’s been over a hundred years since we last saw the Temple of Time in Ocarina of Time, and boy does it need a lick of paint or two!
Out the corner of my eye I spot Bokoblin camp, so I switch to the Sheikah Slate’s binocular view for a closer peek. There’s a watch tower where a Bokoblin armed with a bow on sentry duty, keeps a close eye over the skull shaped cave with 3 Bokoblins (2 grunts and a leader) inside. The thing I love most about this new Zelda is players a rewarded for ingenuity. With the tactile weapons on offer, you have to look to your surroundings as a form of attack. I used a nearby explosive barrel to flush them out. BOOM!
For my valiant efforts I was rewarded with chest containing a fire arrow. By this time I had a shield, sword and bow. Primitive versions, but still the full set.
40mins have passed and I’m struggling to find the check point set by the Sheikah Slate, then I fell into it….. quite literally! I place the Sheikah Slate on the stone luring me, which triggers the awakening of multiple pillars throughout Hyrule. The one I had activated – Great Plateau Tower, rises triumphantly from the ground sending me soaring into the sky. Aloft the Tower I hear the earlier mysterious voice. It explains that Hyrule Castle is under the spell of Calamity Gannon, where he is steadily building his strength until he reaches full power.
50mins in and our friend the Old Man has returned to let us know we’re unable to reach Hyrule and ultimately the castle without the aid of his paraglider….OK so just give me the paraglider Old Man and I’ll be on my way…..ah, life is rarely so simple.
The Old Man explains that he’ll give me the paraglider in exchange for the treasure contained within Shrines dotted across The Great Plateau.
And that’s it, times up. My immersion in the world of Hyrule rudely interrupted by the 1 hour timer sounding in my ears. This game has impressed me on so many levels, from the breath taking visuals to the weapon damage system. This game has the potential to be the best Zelda yet and it was certainly worth the wait!
Keep or exchange? – Keep!