All the grumbles you’ve heard are true. Technically speaking, this is a Gamecube game with Wii knobs on. On occasion, it features low-poly models and spectacularly fuzzy, N64-era textures. It could have done with a spot of anti-aliasing. Swinging the sword using the remote is not as natural or as lifelike as you hoped it would be. At times, switching to the bow and trying to aim means spending a few seconds trying to get the remote to register properly with the sensor bar. The music sounds dated and synthesised, and could have done with full orchestral treatment. The save system is flawed. Link looks a bit of a nonce.
And none of it matters a single, solitary jot.
Frankly, if you come away from The Twilight Princess without feeling you have played one of the finest games of not just this year but any year, then you either a) have a pathological hatred of all things Zelda or b) seriously need to re-evaluate the way you look at games. True, it is probably the least revolutionary Zelda since Link to the Past. Yes, it does feel a bit like Ocarina of Time: Redux. But – and this is a very, very important but – it’s a masterpiece of games design, and a genuine gold-stamped, stick-it-in-the-hall-of-fame Nintendo classic. In the good old days before we all got our knickers in a twist about parallax occlusion mapping that used to mean something. Twilight Princess is the perfect reminder why.
Let’s start with those much-debated graphics. Now, we all know that the Wii is no match for the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 when it comes to 3D horsepower: it hasn’t got the CPU grunt, and while we don’t really have much of a clue what the unit’s custom ATi chipset can do, we can be damn sure that it can’t compete with the Xenos lurking in the guts of Microsoft’s machine. Even the biggest Wii apologist will struggle to defend some of the visuals in Twilight Princess. Whisper it, but The Wind Waker was in many ways a more striking and beautiful game to look at, and there are moments – a forest corridor here, a dungeon chamber there – where the textures and modelling are so spectacularly awful that they might have been sucked straight from the Ocarina cartridge.