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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Sample Review

The new benchmark for interactive entertainment has arrived. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the fifth official installment in Nintendo's popular action-RPG series is finally here, and like its NES predecessor in 1987 it is a game so enjoyable, it has the power to pull videogame players into its imaginative worlds -- and refuse to let go for days. Call us crazy, but when the final version of Zelda 64 arrived in the IGN64 offices, we stopped working, locked ourselves into a room with a big-screen TV and a surround system and played 17 hours straight. After only a few hours of sleep, we were back for more and we couldn't stop until we finished the game. Then, we started over again to find all the secrets.
Rarely is there such a perfect mixture of graphics, sound, and gameplay that even the most cynical players will admit that Zelda 64 is poised to shape the action RPG genre for years to come.
Like all games in the Zelda series, Ocarina of Time follows the adventures of a young Kokiri named Link. After a nightmare involving a certain young princess and the evil thief Ganondorf (who eventually turns into the horned creature known as Ganon), the elven boy wakes up in his home village tucked away behind the mysterious Lost Woods. The only Kokiri without a fairy, Link soon meets up with his new traveling companion, the winged Navi, and sets out on the adventure of his life. The quest, which inevitably turns into a rescue mission for Princess Zelda, leads players through dark dungeons, picturesque villages, into the heart of a volcano, to the bottom of a lake, through a haunted desert, deep into a magical forest, into a giant tree, the belly of a beast, and even through time. To say that this game is huge is an understatement. Every time you discover a new corner of the Kingdom of Hyrule, you'll be amazed at the detail, the richness of scenery, the many things to do, and the amount of thought that went into designing it all. For example, players can spend hours just exploring a village, talking to the inhabitants, solving puzzles, and looking for hidden items.
As soon as you pick up the controls for the first time and start to explore the vast universe that makes up this latest creation from the hands of Shigeru Miyamoto and team, you know you're in for a treat. At first, the control is very reminiscent of Super Mario 64, the game that single-handedly invented 3D platformers as we know them. But Ocarina of Time is not a platformer, a fact that takes some getting used to when trying out Link's various actions. There is no jump button. You can still jump at certain points in the game, but it is not integral to the gameplay that players actually control the jump themselves. Instead, Ocarina of Time introduces an auto-jump feature where Link will jump the last possible moment when running toward a ledge. It sounds annoying in theory, but it works very well for this type of game.