IGN Preview of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
Based on the upcoming Zack Snyder film of the same name, which is itself based on the popular novel series, 'Guardians of Ga'Hoole', Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is about the only game I can think of off the top of my head that features dog-fighting owls. Is that a good thing? It's certainly not a bad thing, per se. It's just a thing, I suppose, and I accept it openly.
Frankly, the back-story is dense and novel-worthy, so I'll spare you the details. However, the short of it is, a race of owls protect their sacred tree home, Ga'Hoole, and you play the newest Guardian – a defender of truth, justice and the owl way from the evil forces of The Pure Ones. Nazi allusions abound. Across the game's 20-odd missions and five areas, you'll take to the skies and get physical with a few other airborne species and fend off mechanical contraptions.
In the E3 demo, the flying mechanic was actually quite accomplished; the steering and tilting definitely sided with simple, arcade-friendly turns rather than any kind of banking and constant adjustment. Thanks to an auto-orientation function, you can instantly lock onto your next objective too – particularly handy, given the fairly large airspace and chaos of birds and projectiles and waypoints.
One particular mission has players scooping up red-hot coals with their talons then delivering the fiery payload into enemy catapults scattered around the map. Pure Ones, bent on plucking you out of the sky, do their best to stop you. And so, the dog-fighting ensues and Legends of the Guardians actually gets a few things very right. While the actual combat is more a case of well-timed button presses than anything, your character's prowess (essentially, your bravery meter) gives you some practical attacks. By performing daring nosedives towards the ground, you earn respect and prowess, which fills your prowess meter and gives you up to three 'wingmen' – owl assistants who will dive into battle immediately when summoned, just like homing missiles.
The mid-air tussling aside, the final game promises five bonus missions that, like the standard missions, are tied to a medallion ranking system and your standard array of achievements and trophies. The pace is fairly fast, which works in the player's favor. Your owl character apparently has a beak of pure steel and a head of cement, since he can plough headlong through just about any obstacle in his path. That means you're going to spend less time constantly avoiding mountain peaks and cliff-edges and more time wing-deep in action.
It's a licensed game, sure—but it's got some heart. If you're a fan of the novels, this one's probably an easy sell for you. As a side-story (it's not a retelling of the film as much as an accompanying text), it's also going to give you a more complete picture of the world. With the on-sale date set a week before the film's release in September, there's still plenty more to see. Stay tuned.
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