Though one of the console gaming giants in Japan, the Warriors franchise has never found a strong foothold in the Western market. To resolve this issue and enrich the brand name, KOEI established a development studio in Canada to create an all-new Warriors title which would appeal primarily to American/European gamers.
[boxout]Omega Force, the Japanese-based creators of the series now focus mainly on setting the Warriors games in either Three Kingdoms China or Feudal Japan, with a hint of Gundam every now and then. Rather than simply following suit KOEI Canada has decided to go even further back in the pages of history to the time of the ancient Greeks, the Trojan War to be precise. The legendary war starts with the Spartan king, Menelaos awakening to find his wife Helen missing. During his stay Paris, a prince of Troy and ally to the Spartans, courted Helen and the two of them fled back to his city.
Seeing this as an act of betrayal and humiliation, Menelaos declares war on Troy, mobilising the support of the surrounding clans. It is then that his brother, the mighty conqueror Agamemnon, accompanies him, though not just to restore honour to the disgraced king, but to purge the land of an aged rival.
The story is told through the exploits of eight individual warriors, both Greek and Trojan, over the course of twenty one separate missions, from the initial invasion to its bloody conclusion. It’s a great re-telling of the legend, focusing on the main characters as much as the treacherous Gods who manipulate them. Though each of the eight warriors are prominent in their own respects Achilles spends the most time in the spotlight. For anyone unacquainted with original epic or screen adaptations, there are plenty of casualties, tragedies and fateful twists, all of which will keep you coming back for more.
Though the comparisons are inevitable, Legends of Troy isn’t a brick-for-brick copy of Omega Force’s existing Warriors formula. Though you will face off against hundreds of foes at a time, and there are numerous similarities in gameplay, Legends of Troy has a strangely unique feel to it.
Each of the 21 missions are strung together in chronological order and are character-centric, a “Chapter Select” option being available from the main menu. The linear structure of the game will baffle fans of the series, especially those who are used to having at least 40 or so different characters to choose from. Aside from the campaign there are also several challenge modes including Rampage in which players have to keep their combo meters running without being struck. They are a worthwhile add-on though the bulk of the game rests within the single-player campaign. Unfortunately, there are no options for splitscreen play in Warriors of Troy, and though this will frustrate some players, it can be argued that this results in a more engaing cinematic experience.
Before marching into battle players can purchase and equip various trinkets to buffer stats and unlock various abilities/moves. The inventory is designed in a grid format, each item (either square or rectangular shaped) taking up a number of blocks. The system is efficient enough, though it would have been great to see added perks for lining up a chain of similar item for instance. Instead it just acts as a more interactive way of managing equipment.
Battles themselves are staged in small quadrants of a colossal map, with some areas being revisited during later chapters of the game. Players will be tasked with completing a network of main objectives whilst also keeping an eye out for secondaries which unlock additional “Kleos.” Chapters usually culminate in a large-scale skirmish or boss battle in which small-scale arenas are formed. Some will notice the inclusion of huge monster battles including a cyclops and Griffin; without any context these encounters looked as though they might have been shoehorned in, but their presence is justified, their integration genuine.
In terms of basics the combat itself borrows heavily from the Dynasty Warriors schematic, first put into practice way back in 2000. By combining light and heavy attacks players will slice through enemy ranks, collecting Kleos (the in-game currency) as well as filling the Fury gauge. Once full the character will burst into a frenzy, the range of his attacks amplified as well as their potency. However, it’s not all old hat; each character will come equipped with a hand weapon and shield, which is then used for “stun attacks.” These basically incapacitate enemies for a short period, either allowing the player to escape or use a finishing blow. These are canned animations which will deal instant death to dazed grunts or officers on health.
They’re great the first few times but after a while you will find yourself avoiding them to conserve time, especially if you are playing in long stretches. There is also the added abilities of utilising the weapons of fallen enemies, scattered throughout the battlefield. It adds a sense of depth to the combat, though you will find these weapons to be a lot weaker, and will resort to hurling them at fleeing enemies instead, which is immensely satisfying.
In essence Legends of Troy strips the core mechanics from Dynasty Warriors, making the player feel as though they control just one character instead of an entire army. It’s good fun, though a few additional gameplay features would certainly not have gone amiss.
Though not spectacular, the game can hardly be knocked when it comes to visuals. Animations are mostly fluid and in some cases downright brutal, the superb lighting effects adding a cinematic sheen to both the gameplay and pre-rendered cutscenes. Between chapters there is also a fair amount of narration, told using glyphs and artwork you would spot on the circumference of an ancient black and bronze Greek vase.
The script can be overly melodramatic in parts, though its held up nicely by a panel of strong voice actors. Even more impressive the is the soundtrack, offering a sharp blend of battle orchestra and chilling melodies to accompany some of the more sinister scenes of the game.
- A superb, substantial re-telling of the Trojan War
- Characters have plenty of depth and personality
- Combat is easy to get into and solid throughout
- Voice-work and script fit nicely with a neat soundtrack
- Some minor yet fun game mechanics
- Much more visceral than previous franchise instalments
- Combat could prove frustrating for the impatient
- Little replay value compared to other Warriors titles
- The occasional chokepoint here and there can be off-putting
Warriors: Legends of Troy may not be the breakthrough some had hoped for, and it may not feel more engineered towards the Western gamer but it’s still a good game. The gameplay, though mostly familiar, is solid offering a different pace as well as several unique mechanics to boot. If you despise the Warriors series Legends of Troy isn’t likely to convert you, though as a standalone title, it’s plenty of fun. The game’s ending suggests that a sequel is probable, and hopefully KOEI Canada will step up to the challenge. Though not a heroic first attempt, Legends of Troy has based the foundations for what could be a very successful series.