Review

Warriors: Legends of Troy Review (Xbox360)

If you’ve seen one Dynasty Warriors, you’ve seen ’em all, so says the prevailing wisdom. But is that entirely true? Legends of Troy transports the entire gaming mechanic to Ancient Greece and tries to put a Western flavoured spin on the clichéd hack n’slasher.

Whether it’s at all true or not, I have no idea, but word is that Tecmo Koei built this latest Warriors game around the legend of Troy and the Trojan War in order to engage Western gamers. The belief being that we couldn’t give a monkey’s about hack’n’slash games when they’re based on Japanese history but we might be interested if they’re based on a history closer to home. Well, seeing as I personally have never studied Ancient Greece (I’ve not studied it so badly that I don’t even know if calling the Trojan Wars part of Ancient Greece’s past is right or horribly wrong), it makes absolutely no difference to me whatsoever.

Swords are for pussies…

Oh, okay, fair enough, I know enough to know who Achilles is – he’s the guy with the weak ankles – and I’ve heard of Ajax – he’s a Dutch football team with a penchant for clean sinks – so I do have some kind of reference point for this title, and I’m sure there will be plenty of gamers on this side of the globe who know a few things more about these warring factions from the time before Christianity than I do. So it’s quite possible that the setting and story does have some interest to Western audiences.

For what it’s worth, Warriors: Legends of Troy spans the ten years of fighting between the various groups involved in the dispute, and allows players to take control of key characters from the era like the two mentioned above and other historical legends such as Odysseus and Patrocles.

But because they’ve decided to stick as close to the story (I presume) as possible, you don’t have the luxury of choosing from a list of characters to play through a level, you’re given one legend for each specific level and pushed out onto the battlefield without a choice.

Personally, I don’t think it really matters, because the reality of this game is that once you’ve discovered the secret to scoring maximum kleos (the system of currency earned in the game for slaughtering enemies) you could be playing as Yoshi for all the difference it would make.

Typically with a slasher, basic attacks are mapped to the face buttons and combos can then be achieved through well-timed button pressing. As you advance through the game, you earn more kleos, which allow you to purchase rings and belts and other items that increase your characters’ strength and open up new combos, and these items must first be placed onto your abilities grid before each level begins, forcing you, later in the game, to choose wisely for each level.

However, about three hours into this game, I’d sussed out the magic technique for scoring large and never getting hurt: hold down the target and shield triggers, stun the closest enemy, hit the hard attack button (a prompt will always appear on the enemy’s chest after a successful stun attack) and finish them off with a grisly flourish. Whack the hard attack again because that first attack will have stunned everyone around you into dropping their guard and get another stylish kill. Rinse and repeat.

Hit Y now. And get used to it.

And that’s it, really, from start to finish. If it wasn’t for the boss battles and the odd named enemy (of which there are a fair few), this game would be one long series of A followed by Y cack.

The monotony of this is initially broken up with the stylish ways your characters have of dispatching the enemy – Achilles has a particularly nice leaping throat stab that didn’t become tedious for at least a couple of hours – and later with some decidedly underhanded duels. Duels pop up here and there, often at the end of one long, monotonous slaughterfest, and see you fighting a boss character in a ring of soldiers. Unfortunately, these boss battles are remarkably easy to master, more often than not consisting of the kind of mechanic where you need to sit and wait for the right moment to strike, have a bit of a thrash at the enemy and then sit back and do the same thing until you’ve won.

Later on these duels get harder as the game suddenly turns the world on its head and introduces total nonsense into the ‘realism’ like gods turning up and raising the dead, three-on-two fights (with that good old fashioned mechanic which sees your ally being completely useless and totally ignored by the enemy AI), cheeky off-screen attacks and the introduction of mythical beasts into the fray.

The funny thing is, Warriors: Legends of Troy isn’t a hateful game and if you like a bit of hack’n’slash then you’ll certainly get a tickle out of this one – there’s much to laugh at from the bonkers pronunciations of name and legendary cities to the delightful way the giant Ajax goes into battle using just a shield and his throat snapping hand against hundreds of tiny enemies – but there’s plenty to make you wish you’d never started playing the damn thing in the first place.

Didn't you read this review? Target, stun, finishing move. Simple

I can forgive the shonky voice acting, the monotony of the slaughter, the lack of free roaming. I can ignore the dull challenges, I can even forgive the second rate graphics, this is a slasher game and there is plenty of stabbing and hacking to keep you going, but what I can’t forgive, in the end, is the dreadful monotony of stun to finishing move and back again. Of course, you could ignore it and play the game as intended, pulling off all the combos available, but once you’ve discovered it, and knowing that it’s the best way to score maximum kleos, furthering your buying power before each level starts, it’s almost impossible to play the game any other way.

So, like it says at the top there, if you’ve played one Dynasty Warriors you’ve played them all. Except Warriors: Legends of Troy isn’t a Dynasty Warriors, and if it was it would be letting the series down dramatically.

Top Game Moment: those stylish finishing moves are where all the pleasure in this game is at.

Videos

Comments

By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Mar 21, 2011
herodotus
With such a rich period in history filed with names that have been passed down in time to become legend, one might have expected a pretty decent gaem here. What a shame the Devs obviously went in only half ready to create what in their minds was a potential big cash earner. In the end, perhaps that's all the focus was.
Finishing moves? Achilles dragged poor Hektor around the walls of Troy thrice after besting him in a savage duel, with the ropes looped through his sliced ankles. More of a storyline could have made this richer (just as what should have been a boring TV show in "Spartacus" come alive through good storytelling).