Entertainment Reviews

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Review: Classic Zelda updated for the modern world

Reviewed: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Batman - Arkham Origins, LocoCycle

Published 22/11/2013 | 20:25

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Batman Arkham Origins for Xbox 360/PS3
LocoCycle for Xbox One

Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Nintendo 3DS
RATING: 9/10
AGE: 3+

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HOW do you develop a sequel to the one of the most-loved, perhaps even the most-loved games of our era? Zelda: A Link to the Past may date from 1991 but its intricately designed dungeons, playful way with dual-world puzzles and wilfully kooky characters defined a template that stands the test of the time.

So for Link Between Worlds, Nintendo took the only sensible approach and ripped itself off wholesale, down to copying the basic map structure of old.

In lesser hands, that would represent not just sacrilege but a prescription for disaster. Instead, LBW reworks the princess-rescuing, cave-exploring formula for the modern age, throwing the world wide open within an hour of hitting the Start button.

It’s still stuffed with brain-bending puzzles – now with the new twist that Link can slip into 2D Paper Mario-style, making himself wafer-thin and able to cling to wall or pass through gaps.

Visually, it’s no giant leap from 1991, though the subtle use of 3D is easy on the eye and adds a new depth to the platforming challenges.

Despite its comforting familiarity, LBW is no mere rehash, the expanded range of tools granting you the freedom to forge your own style of battle and the all-new dungeons a fresh delight to savour.

This generosity inevitably means the thrill ride comes an end too soon, because it’s too easy to burn through its running time as you inhale the story in great chunks. But it’s not a bad complaint to have, that a game is too addictive to put down.

 

Batman: Arkham Origins

X360/PS3/PC

RATING: 7/10

AGE: 16+

THE perils of reheating a successful recipe come home to roost in Arkham Origins, follow-up to the masterful Arkham City, widely acclaimed as the best superhero game ever.

Perhaps the slight sense of disappointment comes from the high bar set by Arkham City, a rousing cocktail of satisfying combat, dastardly villains and gothic architecture. Origins doesn’t try to take it anywhere very new or add fresh spice to the flavour – unless you count the underwhelming debut of multiplayer mode.

Origins is actually a prequel but it’s full of the delicious gadgets, dopey goons and shadowy Gotham we’ve come to love. The familiarity is a friend but an enemy too and the lack of ambient bustle lends the city an empty feel despite the myriad mission distractions on offer.

There’s nothing terribly wrong with Origins and it does what it does very well but it would have worked better as a downloadable expansion pack than a full retail release.

 

LocoCycle

Xbox One/X360

RATING: 4/10

AGE: 12+

IT opens with a live-action mini-movie that lasts for less than 10 minutes but feels like an hour. Presumably, the cheesy drama intends to parody hammy TV shows such as Knight Rider but it serves only to make you impatient for the game to start.

Unfortunately, despite its makers’ pedigree with slapstick actioners such as Splosion Man, when you play LocoCycle you realise the intro movie was the best bit.

LocoCycle features a souped-up sentient motorbike escaping its government handlers. So far ho-hum.  The running gag is that the bike is towing its mechanic behind because his trouser leg got caught in the chassis and he can be used as a weapon.

It wants to be Spyhunter but the melee combat is tedious, the visuals sub-par for Xbox One and the whole sorry affair doesn’t even qualify under the banner of so-bad-it’s-good.

 

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