Warriors: Legends of Troy
Warriors: Legends of Troy review: Bloodthirsty, visceral action
- Stylish, visceral action; looks good; sound and voice are a big improvement on other Warriors games
- It's not going to get the recognition it deserves.
Warriors: Legends of Troy deserves a chance. If you like action games, have an affinity for history, or have ever enjoyed a Warriors game before, this should hook you right in. This side of God of War, it's the best hack and slash the PS3 can offer.
Price$ 89.95 (AUD)
As a games critic, there are a few 'kisses of death' that will kill your credibility pretty quickly. There's accepting bribes for good reviews, accidentally confusing Mario and Sonic, and giving a Warriors game a positive review.
After all, the Warriors games are derivative and haven't improved since the PS2 days, people say. They're brainless button mashers, they add. They're ugly games and I don't understand why the Japanese buy them in droves; 2/10 because no one would ever want to play this game, a typical "review" finishes.
But I'm willing to put my credibility on the line for the Warriors series, and this means I'm going to be taking the fall for Warriors: Legends of Troy. See, despite the early grumbling when the game was first previewed to the press, it's a really, really good game.
Developed by Tecmo Koei Canada (the first project for the newly formed studio), Warriors: Legends of Troy does bear a superficial resemblance to its forebears. There are still the endless swarms of enemies to wade through, and the game does closely follow the story of a historical conflict — in this case, the war over Troy.
Like other Warriors game, how much you care about what's going on in Legends of Troy depends on how familiar you are with the story. It's a simple formula that the more background knowledge you know, and the more you can become involved in the story, the more you'll dig having the opportunity to actually play as Hector, or Achilles, or Paris. More people in the West know about these heroes than the likes of Cao Cao from Dynasty Warriors or Nobunaga Oda from Samurai Warriors, and Tecmo Koei plays on this — most of the characters bear a passing physical similarity to the stars of the Troy movie from a few years ago.
Assuming you enjoy the characters, the game features passable voice acting and narration, effectively filling you in with whatever plot elements you're not familiar with. Within this context, then, the action starts, and it's at this point that conventional wisdom would have you believe the Warriors games fall down, each and every time.
But what the reviews of these games don't generally tell you is that each release in this venerable series has subtle differences. Though it's not always obvious, this gentle evolution curve has delivered continuing improvements and unique twists on "the formula", with the series developing substantially over the years. The modern Warriors game is a very classy package, with some seriously impressive action.
Legends of Troy is a visceral turn for the franchise, with a great deal of bloodletting and none of the fluid melee dance of a Dynasty or Samurai Warriors. This time around your character moves with a real weight, and swinging the weapon has a satisfying heaviness to it. When it connects, the sound of metal slicing through flesh is satisfyingly wet.
Combos are kept short and sharp, and the game relies far more heavily on blocking, counterattacking and dodging than other Warriors games. This is especially evident during the boss battles, where the armies surround you and the enemy "hero", keeping you in a circle for some one-on-one action. Try to mash your way through those battles and it's game over.
Though the game does away with the tradition for heroes to level up, there's a system whereby you can buy upgrades for your heroes between battles, and by equipping them to a grid, improve the heroes' stats. You’ll quickly run out of space on that grid though, so finding the right combination of items becomes a key strategy, especially if you want to take on the higher difficulty levels.
So much for being 'simple.' Legends of Troy actually has far more action buttons than earlier Warriors games — with the ability to pick up and throw enemy weapons, the addition of finishing moves if you catch your enemy unaware, and a shield bash to knock their guard down. These join the regular attacks and a Warriors-standard "Frenzy" — hit that button and your physical power goes through the roof for a short period, blood splatters all over the screen, and you’re able to clear the battle field quickly. You'll then need to slaughter a group or two of regular enemies to recharge that attack.
The battlefields themselves are fairly straightforward, and split into "chapters." In each chapter you'll control a different hero from the period, and complete a handful of objectives of the fetch, protect and hunt variety. Each of the heroes has a different play style, keeping the action varied enough that you'll not quickly get bored. Each battlefield also has secondary objectives — by completing those you unlock little bonuses and extra game modes to play outside of the story.
Those "Challenge" game modes are the opportunity to control any hero you've unlocked in an all-action, no story slaughterfest, with a full range of hoard and arena scenarios available. It's not quite as satisfying as a "free play" mode — a staple of the Warriors series that allows you to take any hero you like to previously cleared missions, but is strangely absent in Troy — but it's a good diversion nonetheless.
Disappointingly the game does take a step back from a new norm for Warriors games — there's no online play; in fact, there's no multiplayer at all. This kind of game is great fun with friends, and its omission does dampen the overall value of the game somewhat.
But it's a small misstep in the grand scheme of things. Warriors of Troy is a refined experience, with stylish hyper-violence, great visual aesthetics, and a difficulty curve that will suit everyone from raw beginner through to veteran. It's no button masher, it's technically proficient, and it's the kind of game history and literature buffs will really get into — now, does that sound anything like the kind of bad game other reviews would have you believe? No.
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