This is the other half of the article from his 10 hour impression.
*SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT*
I havent read it yet but I can safely assume there is so if you don't wanna know dont read
The Wolf, the Twilight and the Real
I don't want to spoil any major plot points so I'm going to mainly focus on some of the elements that have been previewed in officially released screenshots and videos. However, there is no way for me to continue onward without at least touching on the basic theme of the game as I know it so far, which deals in everything from the apparently evil Twilight Realm that is slowly blanketing the land of Hyrule and changing its inhabitants into spirits and the dichotomy between the hero Link and his wolf form to the troubling state of Princess Zelda, the menacing Twilight King, and many more faces and places that you'll both recognize and find entirely new.
Link does not begin his quest to save Zelda - he lives in a faraway village and has rarely, if ever journeyed beyond its borders. He is compelled to save Ilia, a pretty teenage girl who is positioned as his potential love interest shortly into the title. She lives in Ordon Village and is, in fact, the daughter of the mayor. But when she's kidnapped by a gang of boorish warriors from the Twilight Realm, which is a sequence that has been showcased over and over in videos, Link sets out to find her and some other taken kids, including Colin, Malo and Talo, and Beth, who is infatuated with and hopes to be as brave and strong as Link when she grows up.
When Ilia and the band of kids are kidnapped, Link is sucked into the Twilight Realm, where he automatically transforms into a wolf and becomes imprisoned in a dungeon. It is here that we are introduced to the surreal creature known as Midna. This character, with half crown and one fang, not to mention big, cat-like eyes, is covered in the same techno-tribal tattoos that grace all of the evil Twilight monsters, except Midna's marks are green while those on enemies are red, like black widows. Although Midna takes an immediate interest in Link's wolf form and sets him free of his shackles so that he can explore the dungeon and the areas beyond, the character is not really out to help him. Midna wants something from Link, which becomes more and more evident and the adventure progresses. Even before Link has any time to protest, Midna hops onto his back and tells him that if he wants to make it out of the Twilight then he must obey her commands.
Ever since I played Metroid Prime 2 and came away unimpressed with its Dark World sections, I have wondered and sometimes worried if the Twilight Realm in this new Zelda would befall the same fate. Thankfully, this is not at all the case. Actually, I've found that I look forward to many of the Twilight Realm situations for two reasons: first and foremost, because playing as a wolf is a lot of fun, and I'll explain why below. And second, because the Twilight Realm itself is pretty amazing. It is more or less a polarized version of the real Hyrule and as Link explores it, we see perpetually drifting and floating black particles covering landscapes and blooming backdrops. In my 10 hours with the game, some of the prettiest scenarios have unfolded in the Twilight Realm.
As a wolf, Link sacrifices any weapons he might have been able to use in his original form. After all, wolves don't often swing blades or shoot bow and arrows. But he also gains some immediate advantages. First is speed. The wolf can really run and you'll be able to tap the A button at any time for a quick burst. The second is the beast's ability to quickly pounce on enemies. Again, you just tap the A button near a Twilight creature and Link's wolf self will dive into or latch onto them, where you can continue pressing the A button to inflict damage multiples. In addition, subtly shaking the nunchuk attachment will cause the wolf to execute a quick spin attack.
A bit later, the wolf learns two integral moves, including the ability to (by holding the B trigger) generate a circular field that encapsulates as many enemies as will fit; when you release the B trigger, the wolf will blaze around the screen killing all the foes at once. This is a necessary move because some of the Twilight baddies attack in groups of three or four and after you kill two thirds of them the remaining enemy will howl with rage and magically revise the entire gang. The only way to defeat these forces is to attack them all simultaneously. It's a very innovative new mechanic and also one that adds quite a bit of challenge, especially since it is not always easy to capture all three or four evil entities in the field. It actually becomes part of combat strategy, as you'll need to figure out which enemy you can kill off first and then use the field to simultaneously dispose of the remaining two or three baddies. As I looked around the room while playing, I noticed that some of these encounters were particularly troublesome for my fellow editors, and there were lots of Game Over screens popping up.
The second wolf ability relates to one of the primary objectives for entering the Twilight Realm to begin with, which is to meet a Light Spirit, retrieve the Vessel of Light, and fill it with collected Tears of Light. That's a lot of Lights, I know, so let me try to explain. First, put aside any fears you might have about the Twilight Realm existing solely as a means to push collect-a-thons. You do chase down some gruesome white insects in order to retrieve the Tears of Light, yes, but this only happens a few times, according to Nintendo representatives, and then you're off to something else. In the Ordona Province, the Light Spirit is a giant, glowing stag called - you guessed it - Ordona. The Spirit explains that you need to find the Tears of Light and put them in an object he gives you called the Vessel of Light. Only when you do that will Light be restored to the area. The catch is that you can't see the Tears of Light without the wolf's second power, which is the ability of heightened senses. In wolf form, Link can (by pressing left or right on the D-Pad) go into an alternate vision mode where any nearby Tears of Light become visible. Using this sense yields a secondary result, which is that the wolf can see the various spirits of Hyrule who have become trapped in the Twilight. Later, the wolf can also use a slightly altered sense to sniff out the scent of any characters he tracks.
The wolf can also dig (by pressing D-pad Down) and the beast will often have to do so in order to find Rupees and even occasionally Tears of Light hidden in the ground. He'll also have to dig underneath fences and into gaps on a house's foundation to gain access to otherwise unreachable areas.
And finally, in wolf form, Link can use Midna to his advantage, too. The Twilight creature will giggle (an audio cue that also comes out of the Wii remote's speaker) whenever the wolf approaches an area where she can be of help. To use her, you simply press D-Pad Up and then tap the A button when prompted to make the wolf jump across chasms or up a series of tree branches. Your level of control during these situations is very limited - you are, after all, merely tapping a button to continue a sequence - but some cinematic scenarios unfold this way all the same and after a few minutes using Midna to access specific areas becomes second nature.
Obviously, the wolf is both faster and more agile than Link, which is why controlling the character is a lot of fun. But the animal is sometimes able to leave the realm of the Twilight and journey into the natural world, and during these situations you'll need to play much differently. When in wolf form, you can't stroll into Ordon Village and expect the mayor to greet you with open arms. The villagers fear the wolves and therefore they also fear and will attack you. Bearing that in mind, you'll do better to sneak around, listen to conversations when necessary, and talk to the animals. Cats, squirrels and yes, chickens, will give you advice about what to do or where to go, despite the fact that a wolf would probably eat of these animals. It's actually pretty funny because some of the chickens have a very dignified, proper speech - and all you want to do is beat on them, anyway. And to answer your next question, yes, when you're Link you can pick up the chickens and use them to glide off rooftops.
Zelda and Hyrule
After exploring a dungeon in the Twilight Realm in wolf form, you eventually make your way outside, where you are greeted by spiraling towers, stone walkways, bridges, and a nearby castle. Midna is no fan of subtlety and keeps asking if you know where you are. It becomes irrefutably clear: this is Hyrule Castle, and it's being overtaken by the blackness of Twilight. Minutes later, you run to the top of the immense structure and slink through a doorway, where Princess Zelda awaits. You've seen her in screenshots and videos by now so you know that she's remarkably well designed and beautiful. Zelda and Midna appear to know each other, although neither seems particularly fond of the other. The Princess explains what has happened and a cinematic ensues.
The sequence shows the hall of Hyrule Castle. Princess Zelda sits in her throne and a dozen or so guards stand at the ready in front of the castle's doors. Suddenly, a black fog blows through the entrance and into the hall, where litters of nasty Twilight creatures squirm form from the mist and proceed to attack and kill the guards. Afterward, a much bigger Twilight creature, walking on its hind legs, dressed in garb, and wearing a horned helmet, makes its way down the center isle toward Zelda. The monster tells the Princess that the time has come for her to surrender or die, and with that she drops her sword. In the next sequence, we can see Hyrule Castle on fire as the Twilight overtakes the area and transforms its peoples into spirits. It's an impressive cut-scene.
Now, imprisoned in her Twilight Castle, Zelda tells Midna and Link to leave before they are discovered, which eventually leads the character back to the real world and back to his heroic form.
Playing as Link
Although there are some new Wii twists, Link is controlled and moves through the expansive environments in a manner that will seem very familiar to seasoned Zelda fanatics. The nunchuk's analog stick controls the hero; the Z button is used for locking onto friends and foes (you can still target villagers on higher ledges and chat with them from the ground); and the C button triggers a first-person camera view. In first-person, you'll be able to look around with the Wii remote and turn in a full circle, if you want, with the analog stick. The GameCube version of Twilight Princess would seem to have an advantage here because it does feature a manually controlled camera mapped to the second analog stick, but you can still center the view behind Link at any point by tapping the Z button and, honestly, I rarely encountered any viewing angle issues while playing through a chunk of the adventure.
If you're running and you tap the A button, you'll roll, and you can roll as often as you want without ever breaking the momentum of your motion. Meanwhile, in what I consider to be a fantastic new addition to the series, you can now run and swipe your sword at the same time. As your running, you simply gesture with your Wii remote and Link will pull out his weapon; do it again and he'll swipe. Imagine a giant field full of grass. In previous Zelda games, your momentum would come to a grinding halt every time you slashed at a patch. But now, you can run around the entire field, gesturing with the Wii remote and cutting down patch after patch without every stopping. It sounds like a miniscule inclusion and for most it might be, but in practice it's a lot of fun in the same way that being able to run and dive without losing momentum in Mario 64 was.
After 10 minutes, playing Twilight Princess with the Wii remote and nunchuk feels good. You have to understand that the remote does not suddenly bring one-to-one swordplay to the table, which seems like an eventuality for a future Zelda game. But even without it, the control still works just fine. It is not clumsy by comparison to the GCN build and your arms will absolutely not grow tired and fall off. If you want to, you can make those exaggerated and dramatic full-arch movements as seen in Nintendo Wii promos to control Link's sword swipes. But by no means is playing that way a necessity. You could play like I do, which is just to subtly shake the controller to and from every time you want to perform a swipe. Keep shaking it and Link will continue to slash at enemies. It's not difficult. It's not messy. It works every time and it feels pretty damned good. In fact, after an hour or two with the game, you start to really prefer this method to more traditional controls. There is something more tangible to it. It might seem like a little thing, but shaking the remote in lieu of pressing a button more accurately conveys the sense that you're in control of a sword. It honestly, truly does. And I'm neither lying nor brainwashed when I state that, given the choice, there is no way I would go back to the old control scheme.
Shake the nunchuk and Link will execute his trademark circle slash. This is a more powerful move so Nintendo has put a limit on it. You have to wait until the hero's sword recharges - it takes about three seconds - before you can do another. Again, shaking the nunchuk, like the Wii remote, works well and feels very responsive.
As Link gains access to new items and weapons, he can equip them to the D-Pad for easy access. All you need do is press D-Pad Down, Left or Right to equip a weapon and then tap or hold the B trigger to use it. Projectile weapons really show off the Wii remote's superiority because you're replacing the clunky analog stick aiming mechanics with a means to really point at the screen, which feels far more intuitive. A half-hour into my play test with Twilight Princess, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Wii remote's aiming operations worked. With the Slingshot equipped, I could simply hold the B trigger, point and aim with the Wii remote, and then release - all at a speed and level of precision not possible before. Before long, you'll find that riding Epona and nabbing headshots on distant enemies with more advanced weapons is a breeze. You'll be able to precisely target and destroy five enemies in three or four seconds. Once you play Zelda this way, there is no going back.
Using the Gale Boomerang works in fundamentally the same way, except you can lock onto as many as five different targets by tapping the Z button while you aim. When you want to throw the boomerang, you just release the B trigger and watch it go. In the Forest Temple, the first of many dungeons in the game, Nintendo has designed some very clever puzzles that revolve around the weapon. There are wind-based challenges in which you'll need to target - in the correct order - a series of pillars to open doorways, or to rip up floor tiles so that you can get at enemies lurking beneath them. But what I personally found the most intriguing is the way the Gale Boomerang can lock onto a faraway item and physically transport it to another targeted location. In one scenario, I had to figure out a way past a boulder located one tier above me. I noticed a ticking bomb in one part of the level. If I were to pick the bomb up with Link, there'd be no way I could run it all the way to the boulder before it exploded. So I pulled out my boomerang, locked onto the bomb, locked onto the boulder, and then released. The boomerang flew through the air, picked up the bomb and carried it directly to the boulder, which exploded, revealing access to a passageway beyond. Beautiful. Remember, this is the first dungeon, and already Nintendo is really making us use our heads to advance. The second dungeon, which I'm not allowed to write about yet, keeps the momentum moving. You've undoubtedly seen Link using the Iron Boots in videos. There are some spectacular sequences.
Scope, Saving and Difficulty
Twilight Princess features a huge, sprawling world - one of the biggest I've seen in any adventure game, and I've only witnessed portions of the universe so far. Link rides from Ordon Ranch through to the Village, takes a path into Faron Woods, which are immense, and eventually makes his way to the Forest Temple. The dungeon stretches into every direction on multiple levels, is drenched in monkeys (one of whom slaps his bloated rear end), and is sure to last most players a couple of hours the first time through. Nintendo representatives have stated that Hyrule Field is at least five times larger than the one in Ocarina of Time and based on the sections of it I've seen, I'm inclined to agree. I think, in fact, that it could be larger still. And this says nothing of the many other areas I've explored, but am not yet allowed to write about, including other villages and entire provinces. You could conceivably spend five or more hours messing around in Ordon Village the first day you play the game, and that represents about one percent of the adventure, as far as I can tell.
The game is further separated by the unofficially named Twilight Curtain, which cuts Hyrule in half and divides the real world from the Twilight. Whether you're Link or the wolf, it seems inevitable that you will at some point visit locations on both sides of the Curtain and there will in turn be different objectives to keep you busy.
Thankfully, you can save at any time and anywhere, including temples. However, if you save halfway through a temple and then quit the game, you'll progress will be noted, but you'll have to physically start back at the beginning of the temple when you return. There is a way around that, too, though. You meet this chicken with a man's face named Occolo - he's very disturbing. You can equip him as an item wherever you happen to be in a temple and he'll save your progress in exactly the same room.
As for difficulty, the game is undeniably harder than Wind Waker and on par with Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, if it's not more challenging yet. To give you some examples, you need to collect five heart pieces, not four, to up your life count. Restorative hearts are fewer and farther between. And enemies generally inflict greater damage on Link than they did in Wind Waker. Sure, there are foes that will only take off a quarter heart, but there are also enemies that will halve your heart, take off a full heart, or even take off two of them.
Final Thoughts So Far
I'm 10 hours through Twilight Princess and I still feel as though I've just gotten started. The game kicks off to a quick start and the action and challenges rarely relent. The result is an incredibly fun and rewarding experience that both feels like every Zelda we've played before and also completely new. I've always appreciated Nintendo design and Twilight Princess - even early on - demonstrates that few in this industry can make a game as epic and engaging as the Big N's top teams can. Of course, I'm not nearly through the finished product, but I have faith, and now that I've glimpsed Nintendo's newest Hyrulian adventure, I'd be surprised if it didn't go down as another genre benchmark, not to mention a cherished classic.