The Dynasty Warriors series has been running for years now, and despite a passionate fan following, there's plenty of players who've yet to sample the hack ‘n' slash franchise. One main reason? They don't identify with the story. Here in the West we've no cultural connection to the Three Kingdoms period in China's history, on which the whole series is built.
Hyrule Warriors may finally see Omega Force get the mainstream recognition they deserve, as the clash of Three Kingdoms is replaced with the eternal war against the dark by a hero wielding the Triforce of Courage.
The core gameplay mechanics of steamrolling through huge fields of enemies, reclaiming captured fortresses and racing to accomplish objectives in tight time frames remains. We're just now doing it in the world of Hyrule, and the characters we're fighting alongside or rescuing we're intimately familiar with. There's even a nice, in-game explanation as to why we're meeting and fighting faces from across the entire Zelda timeline. For those fans that like digging into the fractured Hyrulian history, it's a real treat.
As with Dynasty Warriors, each mission offers you a huge map filled with enemy units, while your own side amounts to a small handful of supporters. You control a single, powerful warrior and get attacking with a gradually-expanding list of combo moves.
We start as Link, but soon he's joined - and we're offered to play as - Impa, Darunia, Midna and Fi. Everyone has different weapons, with the mission start screen offering us hints as to which would suit that particular level best.
In addition, all fighters have access to secondary weapons. These help us progress through the map as well as being able to stun or exploit enemy weak points. All are Zelda mainstays: bombs, boomerangs, grappling hooks and bow and arrow.
Mission events are completely scripted. Some depend on time, others pop up as our objectives change. But as a result, gameplay is deceivingly dynamic. Tension mounts.
There's a pleasant strategic component in which fortresses we liberate - by taking out the fort boss - as it's up to us, and friendly units can defend themselves, up to a point, so we can decide to help out or not.
Included is an Adventure mode, specific missions that has us trying to conquer squares on a map based on the NES Zelda title. Levels here are fast-paced as we have to take out certain enemies or keep to a certain time.
But whatever mode, and whether you play solo or co-op, this title has a relatively compact concept, which, despite the simple structure, manages to keep us going. For Legend of Zelda fans, Hyrule Warriors is a real boon, as it offers a fresh and action-oriented approach for the series. Hopefully Nintendo and Omega Force can continue this collaboration.