Warriors: Legends of Troy Review

By Michael Thomsen - Posted Mar 31, 2011

Warriors: Legends of Troy lets players fight in the Trojan War. You'll play as 8 different heroes on the Greek and Trojan side, including Achilles, Ajax, Odysseus, Penthesilea, Paris, and Hector. The game is a melee-based action game with a unique string system that increases the amount of damage you deal for consecutive perfectly-timed hits.

The Pros
  • Pretty Cutscenes
  • Controls Work Well for all 8 Heroes
The Cons
  • Repetitive Combat
  • Hard to Tell Enemies Apart
  • Predictable Story
  • Little to do beside grind for items

Warriors: Legends of Troy Review:

It’s lately been a joke to take a famous novel and translate it into game form. Re-experiencing The Great Gatsby or Waiting for Godot as 8-bit games destroys their meaning. One can’t simultaneously run and shoot while contemplating the omni-distant nature of love and salvation. Fortunately the Greeks and Trojans were less prone to ennui and so is Warriors: Legends of Troy, a volumetric melee game in which the objective of soaking the battlefield in blood is perfectly suited for its 8-bit concept of game design. You’ll move down corridors, encounter enemies, and dismember them for points. Like the classics it draws from, Legends of Troy is thin, repetitive, sometimes pretty, and at all points has nothing to do with the life you or I know. But it has difficulty settings and an upgrade economy, and sometimes that’s enough.

Hack for Hire

Pulled from the Dynasty Warriors template, Legends of Troy is a melee combat combat with emphasis on big quantities of enemies. Killing an enemy is to Troy what collecting a coin is to Mario. The real pleasure doesn’t come from a single death but the moments when a great number of enemies can be pierced like an explosion of slot machine chirps in the Mushroom Kingdom. The game doesn’t want players to worry about the tactical challenges of trying to kill one person but instead revel in the pride of being able to kill 20 in a few seconds. As enemy soldiers surround you--even on the hardest difficulty--they show extreme courtesy in waiting to attack so that they don’t overwhelm you.

The controls are simple. There is a quick attack, a heavy attack, a shove to disrupt a shilded enemy, and a “Fury” attack that triggers a short slow motion sequence and lowers all the surrounding enemies’ defenses. You can block or parry with the R1 button, roll out of the way with R2, and lock onto enemies with the L1 button. You’ll play as 8 different characters on the Greek and Trojan side of the war throughout the game, but Tecmo KOEI has done a fine job of ensuring these commands work for every hero. Indeed, it’s impressive that the combat system works so consistently when switching from sword-wielding Achilles, to Ajax, the bare-handed brawler, or Penthesilea and her long battle ax.

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The downside of this consistency is that combat very often feels shapeless, a process of wandering into a herd of enemies and hitting the attack buttons repeatedly to trim them down like a mobile patch of grass. There is a decent variety of enemies: plain grunts, spear soldiers, shielded soldiers, powerful captains, archers, and various mini-boss heavies. As you advance you’ll have to start using your block and roll moves a little more frequently, but  this only postpones the big sweeping hacks you’ll return to after finishing the dodge animation. There’s a chaining system that rates your blows as perfect or not. Chaining perfect attacks together increases the power of subsequent hits, but I found there was little reward to playing this way on Normal difficulty. It was easy enough to just brawl and block.

But Have You Ever Been to a Trojan Bathhouse, Helen?

To its credit Legends of Troy doesn’t immediately go for supernatural elements to enliven its story. The first half of the game portrays the tangled threads of the Trojan War as straight-forwardly as possible. There are no magical wizards or tinkering gods in the game’s opening hours (they’re saved for the second half) and it’s amusing to wonder what it might really have been like to fight a war in sandals and hammered metal. The environments aren’t any kind of spectacle, but they’re drawn with colors and architecture that evoke a naturalistic version of mythology. The gameplay  doesn’t build on this reference point, but it’s repetitive enough to at least leave space for rumination should you be inclined to let your brain off the achievement leash for a few minutes.

The story is an overtold one and KOEI Canada has added little to the plot points beside some glowering line readings and dramatic close-ups. The cutscenes between chapters, however, are beautiful. They’re an animated 2D tableau, dusky black figures moving against an amber parchment background that connects the human events of the era with the medium those humans had to record their own histories. It’s an approach that’s been used before--the original God of War did something similar though with more comic book exageration--but it’s a surprising and welcome touch.

The game is single-player only, and should take around eight or nine hours to finish. After each chapter you’ll earn Kleos, a currency generated by the number of consecutive attacks you put together without being hit. You can use these to buy items to enhance attack power, health, Fury meter, and so on. The amount of items you’ll be able to equip is dependent on the space available in a rectangular grid, and later chapters will involve some thought about which items to use since there won’t be room to equip everything. Legends of Troy is designed for grinding, and those interested in maxing their stats will need to replay chapters over and over to juice their Kleos count. Aside from the story mode there are a series of stand-alone challenges--basically arena battles--that can be used to unlock new and rare items.

Take the Role If You Can Play the Part

Warriors: Legends of Troy is a well-made bore, a by-product of a factory-line approach to video game design. It’s not a Dynasty Warriors clone exactly, but it does borrow a lot of its spare parts. It’s sometimes argued that if game design is a kind of theater design then players are the performers. In that way, Warriors: Legends of Troy is an easy gig, a game you’ll know how to play before you sit down. As in the conveyor belt days of Hollywood when classically trained performers like Peter O’Toole and Alec Guinness were invited to play parts that involved sheriff’s badges and laser swords, there’s enough of a game in Legends of Troy to make a show. But you’ll want to make sure the PA keeps your trailer stocked with gin, and you’ll probably spend more time torturing the director than taking his instructions.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?