TGS 2010 - Warriors: Legends of Troy - Hands-on Impressions

In September, I attended Tokyo Game Show 2010 as press. These previews were originally posted at criticalgamer and my blog over at 1UP.

During a recent tour of their large TGS booth, Tecmo Koei were eager to point out that their forthcoming releases don't only cater to their existing, predominantly Japanese audience. Best known for the Musou series (Dynasty Warriors), but also home to the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive franchises, Tecmo Koei hoped to exhibit their versatility, whilst still playing to their well established strengths.

The tour didn't exactly start off with a bang, opening with a muted Quantum Theory stage show featuring the senior members of the development team struggling through a deathmatch. But word is already out on Quantum Theory, so Ill refrain from adding to the woe here. After some polite smiles and a handful of stifled yawns we finally moved on and I was shown two forthcoming titles of note; Warriors: Legends of Troy and Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll. Neither strayed too far from Koei's formula for success, though Warriors: Legends of Troy did offer a slightly different take on the Warriors series.

Currently under development at Koei Canada, Warriors: Legends of Troy is a hack-and-slash, 3rd person action game for the Xbox 360 (version tested) and PS3, based upon the events of the Iliad. Covering the 10 year war between the Greeks and Trojans, it picks up the classic tale from the moment Agamemnon, Achilles and co. land on Trojan soil. A Mycenaean spin on the existing Warriors formula, the demo only featured Achilles, though I was informed that further playable characters would be available in the finished game, allowing players to experience the conflict from both the Greek and Trojan perspectives.

Guiding my Brad Pitt stand-in along a hilly path, it quickly became apparent that Legends of Troy is a rather bloody affair, in stark contrast to its Dynasty Warrior predecessors. With devastating combos and bloody finishers at your disposal, your foes, including a couple of demi-gods, are entirely at your mercy. Overall combat is rather simple, consisting of light and heavy attacks and combinations of the two, as well as a special attack gauge which triggers a brief but devastating combo of blows. However, the mini-bosses demand that you make use of the parry, counter-attack and shield bash techniques, with the latter causing defending enemies to lose their footing, providing a brief window of opportunity for a critical strike, vital in bringing down some of the brawnier and better equipped soldiers.

Enemies won't wander very far from their own little piece of Troy no matter how much you try to goad them with your sword and loin cloth, but the last few stragglers of a Trojan massacre will try to flee towards their closest group of allies, hoping for sanctuary. However, a quick press of the Y button puts a brutal end to such hopes, lodging a well aimed spear between their shoulder blades, or triggering a balletic and deadly lunge from Achilles. The weapons of your unfortunate victims can be picked up, thrown and dropped at will, adding a bit of variety to the proceedings.

The level on offer was very linear, with Achilles being funneled along a narrow path, cutting through x number of enemies until reaching his goal. There is still a tendency for said enemies to patiently wait for their turn to strike, though the opponent AI did appear to be an improvement on past Warriors games. Even the most basic of grunt will attempt to block and avoid your blows, though they rarely require more than two well aimed thrusts of your short sword. Although repetitive, these hacks and stabs are satisfying, with each bone crushing blow feeling suitably heavy.

By looking to one of the oldest and greatest works of Western literature, tweaking the combat system and then showering it with of buckets of blood, Tecmo Koei are attempting to do something a little different with their Warriors series, while at the same time remaining in very familiar Koei territory. We will have to wait until spring 2011 to see if it succeeds in attracting a new audience while still keeping the Dynasty Warriors faithful on side.



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