March 16, 2011
As the name of the game suggests, the title takes a look at the entire Trojan War. For those not familiar with this age-old tale, it's one about love and war. Fearing that the Kings of Greece would be unhappy with Helen's choice of husband, Odysseus suggests that they make a pact to honour the marriage, no matter who the husband is. However, when Paris, a prince of Troy, takes Helen away from the chosen husband, Menelaus, the Kings of Greece are forced to honour this pact and invade Troy to try and retrieve her.
As the campaign progresses, you'll take charge of champions on both sides of the fence: champions such as the famed Achilles, Ajax, Odysseus, Aeneas, Penthesilea and Hector. Missions are all contextual to the story and last a decent amount of time. There are also boss fights which perfectly coincide with the more mystical interpretation of the story.
Ultimately, the campaign is a satisfying one. Ignoring the slaying of thousands of men throughout, there's a nice balance between plausibility and mystical interpretation. It's good that elements such as the Gods were included, and it doesn't feel over-done. By the end, you may even have enhanced your knowledge of the entire affair, as unlike other interpretations, it doesn't ignore much of the fluff around the edges.
One of the problems with this approach though, is that because the game follows the story quite rigidly, you're forced to use specific champions for certain chapters. What this means, is that you might get stuck using one you hate, as, despite their stats being the same, some are significantly weaker than others.
Many of the traditional Warriors gameplay elements have been ported over to Warriors: Legends of Troy. You have the ability to perform a quick attack, focus attack, a stun attack and then there's also Fury Mode (Musuo Mode). Combinations between the different types are possible, although they need to be initiated by quick attacks. It works in a similar way to previous Dynasty Warriors titles, whereby depending on how many quick attacks you've performed, it will do a different focus attack.
There's nothing new about this though, what's new is the implementation of all these mechanics - they actually promote timing, strategy and skill. It's one of the biggest complaints of the Warriors games in general, that they were just about random button mashing. But even with the basic quick attacks, its evident that the gameplay is a lot deeper than previous titles. If you time your button presses quickly, you will perform consecutive strikes which deal more damage, and have a much larger arc for their damage.
This is can be applied to focus attack combinations, but combining quick attacks and focus attacks using this precision will grant the greatest rewards. It considerably increases the damage and range of the focus attack at the end of the combo, allowing you to cut through hordes of enemies. There are also combinations between stun attacks and focus attacks, which are nothing short of "finishers". Your character will brutally slay a single soldier and, depending on the move, temporarily stunning other soldiers around - allowing for finisher combos. It's rather gratifying to do such a thing, but the game gives many opportunities for cruel and gratuitous violence. For example, you can pick-up enemy weapons and throw them into the backs of those who're running away. Harsh, but fair.
There's a purpose to all of this though, it's not just done for the sadists amongst us. Performing more brutal kills offers more Kleos - the currency in the game. It's not just that though, it's also tied to your in-game health. Whenever you're in a fight, the Kleos you earn will be added on to your health meter at the end of the conflict - no more running around searching for health pick-ups.
Something else that's quite neat, is how the game deals with encounters between different "powerful" characters. These might be mini boss-fights, or something which is integral to the story - such as a showdown between Menelaus and Paris. When this happens, the soldiers all gather around in a circle and you square off, man-to-man. The game has a full counter system, which works pretty well, but it's here that it's showcased best. You can focus a lot more, and even perform counters to counters. It makes the targeting system a bit less redundant too, as when using it against multiple opponents, it becomes frustrating - it rarely ever locks on to who you want.
The game's graphical style suits the different approach to the campaign. Heroic characters look more like typical soldiers in their stature, with only their armour and weaponry distinguishing them from the crowd. The way levels are structured also works to promote a more streamlined - but not necessarily shorter - experience. You can still easily kill hundreds of soldiers in a level, but it feels more natural, not forced like previous titles that had enemies which spawned from nowhere and bases which needed to be captures. You're always going through levels with a purpose, the soldiers just get in the way of that purpose.
There are some nice touches too. Enemies that run away when their troop gets too depleted; others who get stunned when you brutally slay their captain. Small details like this really help to make the experience more engaging. There might even have been some influence from a certain Hollywood film featuring Brad Pitt, as Achilles has a finisher where he flies through the air and stabs an enemy in the neck.
Replay value is also present in spades. Playing through the campaign will take a considerable amount of time, but it's also possible to play through each chapter mission again, on different difficulties to try and unlock all of the unique items to upgrade your characters. It'll also give you a chance to perform some of the secondary objectives you might have missed.
The Kleos you earn through killing enemies, completing chapters and performing objectives can be used to buy items. You're given a grid, which can be expanded, and you can put items inside the grid to boost your stats and give you special feats - like taking less damage from arrows. There are tons of different items to acquire and you can copy item sets between the characters for ease.
If that doesn't offer enough value though, there are also challenges, which are rather, well, challenging. Even the ones that aren't marked as "expert", still feel like they aren't designed for the faint of heart. They might task you with going 1-vs-1 against increasingly harder enemies, or trying to kill hordes of enemies with your health bar constantly decreasing. By completing all chapters on the different difficulties, you'll also unlock some cheats, like Big Head Mode - it's hilarious.
Having played a ton of different Warriors games throughout the years, Warriors: Legends of Troy is definitely one of the best. It takes the elements that made the franchise so addictive, but actually adds depth to them. The gameplay is solid, the style it's delivered with is full of tiny little details that make the experience a lot more engaging, and it all pulls from great source material. There are still some annoyances with the product, and the presentation could do with being pushed up a notch or two, but, this doesn't stop it from being a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Warriors: Legends of Troy was reviewed on the Xbox 360. You can read more about GamingUnion.net's scoring policy here.