Warriors: Legends of Troy
Pick up your sword and battle alongside your countrymen as they fight for the love of a single woman in Warriors: Legends of Troy. Tecmo-Koei's latest release is a PlayStation 3 exclusive (in North America, at least,) which allows gamers to take control of many different iconic heroes from the Trojan War. Taking place over the course of a decade or so, the game allows gamers to experience the values, reasons and personal conquests/tragedies of heroes on each side of the battle, as they fight their way through 21 different missions. Along the way, cutscenes are shown that explain the set-up, main players and reasons for each battle/level, acting as a seemingly historically accurate backdrop history lesson.
Shortly after the beginning of the game's campaign, a tournament for the arranged marriage of Helen of Troy (thought to be the most beautiful woman in the world) is fought. Many nobles from around the area attend and fight in the tournament of duels, in order to hopefully be given her hand in marriage. Though things go awry when Paris (the son of King Priam,) convinces Helen to run off with him even though she's been promised to another man. This is what essentially starts the war and becomes the reason why the two empires end up fighting each other for years. Throughout its ten hour long campaign, gamers are treated to the beginning of the war, its escalation and its conclusion, plus an extra side stage that takes place during the final epic battle. Included are major battles such as the Battle for Troy and the Trojan Horse. It's a great backdrop for a video game and allows for an interesting history lesson as well. Though the storyline is quite epic, it isn't without its faults. Unfortunately it moves around a bit too much, so it's sometimes hard to follow.
For years, Koei have been known for their Dynasty Warriors games, which are very popular in Japan. This time around, Tecmo-Koei Canada were given the development duties and it's easy to tell that a different studio worked on it. At its core, Warriors: Legends of Troy is very much like its sister series, but there are some differences, upgrades and an increased amount of polish if you look close enough. The game is also a lot more streamlined, which was a plus, because the feeling of having too much going on at once was never overbearing. Though the traditional hack n' slash gameplay is still very much in effect and most of the game is spent fighting battles against hordes of enemies, with minibosses and escalating objectives to be found along the way. Most levels finish with a final duel at the end (yes, duel - usually a one on one fight in the middle of a circle of soldiers, but there are occasional two on two duels.) Half-way through each duel, enemies will change their tactics, so you must be on your toes. However, some also feature boss battles against epic gods and monsters from Greek mythology, which was a nice addition, as they change the style of gameplay quite a bit and show creativity. Those boss battles were some of the best aspects of the game and usually took place in some altered reality/dreamlike situations. Their game mechanics felt more like boss battles in action games such as Dante's Inferno.
Warriors: Legends of Troy doesn't feature as many enemies as the Dynasty Warriors titles, which was a nice change of pace because they weren't overwhelming. Each level felt more personal and featured more variety than its sister series, allowing for different mission types. Some mission types available included having to protect a king as he made his way from point A to point B, saving an ally, and rescuing Amazonian slaves. However, as mentioned before, the gameplay isn't much different at all. Most of your time will be spent hacking and slashing away at thousands of enemies. If you decimate a platoon of foes, a couple of them will see their impending doom and dash away, though they can usually be caught and taken out before they get too far. The tactical action element comes into play into the combat system as you're given the opportunity to use enemies' weapons for combat and/or projectiles. Sometimes they're the most effective weapons against tougher enemies, so you must try to think of the best approach for each situation. Strategy also comes into play when you have to decide how to use your fury attack modifier, which is built up by performing a series of successful attacks against enemies (over time.) It can be activated by pressing circle, and benefits you in a few different ways by stunning enemies, slowing down time and increasing your attack strength. This means that you can do great amounts of damage to bosses before it runs out, or use it to take out a large horde of shielded enemies quickly. It's your choice, but it's important to make the right one because fury can sometimes swing the tide of battle.
The main problem with the game is repetition. Despite a bit of mission variety, it's not utilized much and most of the missions end up feeling the same after a while. The gameplay doesn't ever evolve much, apart from the odd boss battle against the gods, so this may turn people off. Its gameplay is more polished than usual, but it's pretty much the same throughout and will not make people who've hated Dynasty Warriors games in the past fall in love. However, there is fun to be had, especially for fans of the previous games in this series and in the Dynasty Warriors one. Especially if said fans are interested in Greek mythology.
Every character that you play as fights differently. Some are masters of close combat with swords and daggers, whereas others use longer range weapons or have the ability to utilize a bow and arrow or throwing knives. Their physical prowess also comes into play in their speed, agility and animations. Arguably the best character was Penthesilia, a female Amazonian warrior who fights for Troy and utilizes a long-range halberd scythe. However, there were several other characters who were fun to play as, with the standouts being Paris, Achilles and Odysseus. Most of them fought quite well, though there was one who was slow and used his fists instead of weapons. He was too slow, far too big and didn't have very good moves to utilize. Luckily, there was the option to pick up an enemy's sword.
Before each mission starts, the menu system gives players a chance to choose their item loadout. This is done in a Resident Evil-esque style where there's an available grid that can be filled by items of varying effects and sizes. Some items give you more health, whereas others may help your combat skills or teach you combos. All of them must be purchased through the in-game store through currency earned by a good combat record at the end of each stage. Though not all are available, even if you're at the end of the game, because a lot of them must be unlocked by completing specific tasks like winning a duel on expert without taking any damage. Different stages require different benefits, so strategy comes into play a lot in deciding what type of items to try. Sometimes you won't have allies fighting along your side, so there's no need to use the large item that doubles their effectiveness. Granted, they're never overly effective at all, regardless of whether you're using the item or not. Their artificial intelligence is questionable a lot of the time, with the same going for the enemy A.I. as they'll sometimes stand beside you without doing anything and will give up on chasing you after a set amount of steps. Though that's probably to prevent the game from becoming too tough. Difficulty options are available, but even normal is quite challenging.
In addition to its campaign, Warriors: Legends of Troy also has its replay value boosted by the addition of six different challenges (in addition to the challenging and time consuming unlockable items, plus concept art.) There are three different types of challenges available, with two different difficulties for each (normal and expert.) The first one is a series of duels set in an arena, with tons of oncoming attackers to fight, one at a time. The other two focus heavily on the game's main combat mechanics, with one forcing you to keep your combo (Kleos) going for as long as possible without being hit and the other pitting you against time and decreasing health. In the latter, you must take out as many enemies as possible in a short amount of time, to stay alive, as your health will regenerate a bit with each kill. This happens in the campaign as well. These challenges add length and replay value to the game, though completionists will also find a lot of replay value in going back to the campaign in order to complete all of its tough secondary objectives. There are, in fact, forty-eight of them.
The game's presentation is pretty impressive, as it features some really nice and creative cutscenes as well as relatively detailed character models. The dream sequence cutscenes are the best of the bunch, as they're really interesting, dark and unique, though the cutscenes that play before each mission are also well-done. They feature some golden drawings which depict ancient looking figures in battle, and are shown over a maroon backdrop. Unfortunately, the in-game graphics aren't as impressive as a whole. Daytime missions look pretty nice, but the dark night missions are much too dark and look muddy because of it, due to a lack of definition. Still, it looks quite good considering the fact that there are so many individual characters on the screen at once, even if their animations are limited because of it. Its framerate is stable and no issues were noticed, which is a plus.
There are three main types of audio within Warriors: Legends of Troy: its original orchestral score, voice acting and in-game sound effects. The first two are quite impressive, for the most part. The score is really well-done, and sounds excellent, which is easy to show off to people as there is a music theatre option in the game's menu that lets you listen to each track individually at any time. For the most part, the voice acting is also impressive, though some voices aren't that great. The narrator's is the best by far, however. Unfortunately, it'll have to go two out of three because the in-game sound effects aren't anything to write home about. Some of them sound pretty good, but a lot of them are repetitive and you'll hear the same ones over and over again. Luckily, they're not grating.
Warriors: Legends of Troy is a pretty impressive project from Tecmo-Koei Canada. It features an interesting storyline that provides a great backdrop for a video game, as well as some well-done cutscenes and audio. However, its repetitive gameplay is something that will turn a lot of people off, even if it is more polished than it's ever been. This game will appeal to fans of Greek mythology and/or the movie 300, as it feels a lot like an adaptation of that film in game form. Fans of the series or its sister Dynasty Warriors series will be impressed with the polish and alterations that have been added/made to the core gameplay formula that Koei is famous for. However, newcomers will find that it's not for everyone. Give it a rent if you're an interested gamer who has never played a Dynasty Warriors game before. However, if you're a fan of those games, you'll most-likely enjoy this game quite a bit.