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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Zelda sets new standards
By Darren Waters
BBC News Online

It is probably fair to say that video games are not held in particularly high regard by the culture vultures who arbitrate on taste and quality.

Link returns in a new adventure
For the most part, they are right not to - the vast majority of games are mediocre, mildly diverting affairs - but occasionally, even rarely, a game comes along that deserves to be taken seriously.

Games such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City , Halo and Metal Gear Solid 2, have raised the standards to which games can aspire and brought, grudging, acknowledgement that some games can be more than just an entertaining way to pass a couple of hours.

Joining the roll of honour is The Legends of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

Level of photo-realism

Three years after the last outing, the main character Link returns with a new adventure on a new console.

Sword fighting plays a big part in the game
Visually, it is one of the most impressive games I have ever played.

It does not attempt to reach any level of photo realism or push the limits of the technology but rather uses simple animation and colours to create a believable, immersive world for the player.

Zelda is the closest a game has come yet to being an interactive cartoon or animated feature.

It is a delight simply to watch the game - the characters have wonderful expressiveness and the animation of protagonist Link is so touchingly sincere it is easy to develop a rapport and begin to care about what happens to him.

But games are also about interactivity and here Zelda puts to shame hopelessly inadequate games that are pushed upon the public.

Twee storyline

Zelda is instantly playable yet has a wealth of depth. Armed with his trusty sword and shield Link sets off on an island-hopping quest in a bid to rescue his little sister.

The games takes you on a voyage
There are islands, dungeons and hidden mini-games to explore and overall about 20 hours worth of solid gaming.

The Wind Waker of the game, in case you were wondering, refers to a conductor's baton that allows you to control the wind and hence power your voyages around the world.

The game will not be for everyone - the narrative is twee and sometimes trite - but the sheer exuberance of the game will surely convince even the most cynical of gamers.

The range of puzzles is diverse and entertaining but probably not as difficult as in previous Zelda outings.

The Wind Waker is an instant classic and one of the most highly-polished and accomplished pieces of interactive entertainment to be released in a long while.

Zelda: The Wind Waker for the GameCube is released in the UK on 3 May

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