Time Played: 2:30
I've been playing Ocarina of Time (n64) over the last few weeks, so when I saw the price-dropped version of Twilight Princess I figured it was finally time for me to pick it up. ;)
So far, it's easily comparable to Ocarina - simple combat, linear storyline, interesting world to explore. You operate on cues from talking to people to advance the story forward. The story starts off with Link doing chores and helping people in his village - right before he is supposed to set out to Hyrule to deliver something, Twilight overcomes the land and he is turned into a wolf - and the adventure begins.
What I Liked:
Sense of Place. This was something that I always liked about Ocarina too - it's an engaging world. The various sections of environment feel different from each other, and are interesting to explore - but there is an overall sense of connectedness in that you feel like you are exploring a single world. My first thought in this game was "I want to go there" - and I spent a significant amount of time postulating about creating a Zelda themepark someday when I have millions of dollars to throw around. ;)
Sense of Character. Another thing that Ocarina had going for it, for the most part, I think this game pushes it a little farther. Each character that you interact with, no matter how bit the part, has a distinct personality and a sense of purpose. This individuality is also expressed through their character design. In the beginning of the game, I found that I liked the villagers - I wanted to help them, just because they seemed like nice people. Once Midna enters the story, things get interesting - she is the driving personality of this game. I think she is a compelling blend of helpful, likable and obnoxious, which makes me react to her, positively or negatively. :) Also, I love her design.
Gameplay. This is the sort of game that I really enjoy: I'm getting to explore a world that's interesting just to walk around, but there's the right amount of direction and purpose to keep me interested. I'm constantly getting to do different types of things - I'm not just button mashing down bad guys for 10 hours - I'm walking, climbing and swimming through a level, using long ranged weapons, solving puzzles, talking to people. I need to be paying attention for clues about what to do next. It's a balance that I really enjoy.
Mini-Quests. I always liked the mini-quests in Ocarina - but in Twilight Princess so far, things which seem like mini-quests have been necessary to move the story forward. This is a neat approach - at first you sort of feel like you're being nice just to be nice, but it's the only way to actually progress. ;)
Imagination. That combination of story and sense of place and character totally has me hooked. I've turned into a wolf and I don't know why! There's this thing helping me and I have no idea what her intentions are! I want to live in Hyrule.
What I Didn't Like:
Pause menu. The inventory UI is pretty bad looking. It's not important, but I made a note about it.
Combat. I think combat is fun overall, but pretty clumsy. I frequently lose whatever I'm targeting, and don't notice, and hack and slash at nothing for awhile... combat is kept pretty easy, so I never really get frustrated by it, but I feel that it's one of the less elegant aspects of the game.
Handling. Handling gets a little sloppy in tight spaces - particularly when you're a wolf.
Horse Riding. Also sloppy handling - I don't like how Epona immediately bursts into a sprint when I get control of her. In tighter spaces, like next to your house, it usually ends up getting you stuck behind a log or a sign that happened to be in front of her. That being said, she's something that you're riding, so it wouldn't necessarily feel correct for her to handle the same as Link.
Slow Buildup? Took a little while for the story to get started - but then, I didn't get bored so maybe it's ok. Also it gave me a chance to feel attached to the world before it came under danger - so maybe this actually belongs in the positives now that I think about it. :)
Navi? Not really sure what's going on with my fairy. No one else has one, no one talks about mine, she doesn't have a personality. She could really just be a reticle at this point, which makes me a little sad.
How Do I Feel About Continuing?:
I want to keep playing! (In fact, I have been - another update to follow soon.)