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Nate_Emond 12-15-2008 10:57 AM

Please Rate This Review: Legendary
 
Legendary

Only living up to its name if measured on a scale of terrible to God-awful.

High: The anticipation of annihilating mythological creatures with a belt-fed .50 cal machine gun.
Low: Having every anticipation relegated to running around the creatures in circles unloading clip after clip until it dies.
WTF: Every single electronic keypad in the world is apparently defeated by bashing it open with your elbow then holding two wires together for a random amount of time.

In Greek mythology Pandora’s box was a gift given to Pandora on her wedding day by Zeus with the warning never to open for it contained all the suffering in the world. She didn’t listen and as the saying goes “curiosity killed the cat”, but in this opposing view of what Pandora’s box contains curiosity unleashes an unending torrent of ravenous blood thirsty monsters.

At the dawn of time everything that goes bump in the night existed and did much more than bump placing the humans at the wrong end of the food chain. In retaliation man fashioned a box out of a fallen meteor that had the power to trap all of those creatures and lock them away allowing the human race to flourish. To protect this box a shadow group called the Council of 98 was formed, however every group has its opposing extremists these ones calling themselves the Black Order who believed they could harness the power.

Cut to present day, you play Charles Deckard a world renowned thief who is hired by global corporate CEO LeFey to break into the Natural History Museum and open Pandora’s box. Once the box is open, releasing all the monsters, LeFey then turns on Deckard and Vivian (his in-the-field liaison and LeFey’s personal assistant) revealing himself to be the head of the Black Order and sending wave after wave of inept soldiers to kill both of you. Armed with an arsenal of conventional firearms and the magical Signet(a new glowing scar in Deckard’s hand that allows him to absorb dead monsters gaining energy to be used for healing and sending out a shockwave) Deckard must find a way to send these creatures back to the crate they came from. Unfortunately this opening is as good as the game gets.

Legendary is another in a long line of discount FPS’s that fall into a category I call the “rail-shooter”. What I mean by “rail-shooter” is that this FPS locks the player in the most linear path possible from beginning to end with almost zero side areas to explore or puzzles to solve, in this game’s case I do not consider holding the “use” key until a door opens a puzzle. Unfortunately the biggest crime in this genre is taking some of the most innovative game concepts and ruining them on almost every level.

The idea of pumping fire breathing dragons full of lead and watching their corpse hurl towards the ground is a scene to get almost any video game player twitching in their trigger finger, but what should have been awe inspiring becomes droll almost instantly. Alas dragons do not even make an appearance in this farce and the few monsters that do are either dispatched with the greatest of ease, werewolves taking about 20 well placed assault rifle rounds, or are just unnecessarily difficult, griffons taking more than 300 heavy machine gun rounds to the head.

Unfortunately these errors are not scarce and ultimately it seems that the game design is fundamentally flawed. Of all the boss battles, I could only really count three and that was stretching it, only one is worthy of note, the mighty Kraken. Rising from the shores banking the London Parliamentary building the Kraken seeks to crush everything under its mighty tentacles. Deckard must use an unlimited supply of target locking rocket launchers to shoot an eye on the Kracken’s tentacles then another into its mouth then rinse and repeat until its calamari, and as long as you shoot the same tentacle nearest your ammo cache you don’t actually have to move. An alternative to this would have been to have more than just two tentacles, this way they would not need to regenerate and would force the player to move along the expansive roof hunting down other weak points.

The other boss battle involved a minotaur in a stone courtyard, the only hint given to its defeat was to take the part of a Spanish conquistador and play ’ole’ with the monstrous creature shooting him in his tender backside (Your helpful PDA actually just said that its back was more vunerable). I took the path of less stupidity and just ran away from it, easily outrunning the cumbersome beast, turning around ever so often to unload a magazine into him easily defeating a boss that should have been just a little bit more epic. The third boss battle is really just this one redesigned, but how does a Legendary designer make a previous boss battle better? Instead of one easily defeated minotaur you now have to fight two!

This game does have its rare good moments, however. Ever so often scripted events will occur allowing you a glimmer of awesome as a griffon comes swooping in to tear limb from limb a fellow team member, if only you didn’t feel completely helpless during these points. Rather than being a separate cut scene these events happen in-game allowing you to act completely normally, but unable to interact with the event. What you would think would be cool becomes unendingly frustrating as you watch a werewolf leap from the bushes, stalk towards your ally, slash him across the chest, then bite his head off, all while you unload magazine after magazine pointblank into him to no avail. Once your buddy is thoroughly digested, however, the werewolf suddenly becomes weakened by a full stomach (I’m just guessing) and can be killed, so it all works out in the end, just not for your allies wife and kids at home.

Taking storyline, gameplay, combat, level design, infuriating in-game cinematics, and a one-foot high jump (I’m not kidding it’s utterly useless) aside just standing still becomes an affront to the visual and auditory senses. A generic rock track, complete with an obnoxious guitar, repeats itself over and over while the graphics resemble an Unreal 3 mod. Even the ending leaves the player with no real closure, shamelessly setting itself up for a sequel.

The most unfortunate thing about this title is not its many faults, but its lost potential. When I first heard about this game, about a year ago, I was immensely excited for a title that I thought was long overdue. Any video game fan that has ever played Zelda and Doom in the same afternoon has assuredly pondered with a far off “Hmm, What if someone created a game mixing fantasy creatures and guns?” and after playing this game I still wonder, but now I wonder two things:
1. “Hmmm, What if someone created a GOOD game mixing fantasy creatures and guns?”
2. “Where are the wasted eight hours of my life and how can I get them back?”

Even while playing so many opportunities for a better game come to light. First off there are very few monsters, nine in total, and none of them are particularly challenging. I constantly wondered, though, where are the rest? Medusas, giants, centaurs, DRAGONS any of these creatures would have been an exceptional addition to the game, three of them representing possible boss battles. The lack of these monsters is a shame, but what is completely left out of a game can not be criticized as much as what was there and not utilized to anywhere near its full potential. The Signet can only perform two tasks, heal or shockwave, the latter almost getting no use, but what about other powers. Recycling any power from other magic oriented games would have been better then just letting this unique twist lie useless, only used as a mobile medkit. Anything from fireballs to monster mind control would have fit in seamlessly, but alas it was not meant to be.

Hopefully the developers, Spark Unlimited, will get the message and try to take a little pride in their next title. Here’s hoping.

Disclosure: This game was procured for the PC and had about 8 hours dedicated to it. Two of those hours were spent on normal mode, then switched to Hard (the hardest difficulty) to try and get a challenge.
Parents: This game contains excessive violence, blood, and gore, and is rated M for mature (18+) a rating that would seem apt, however the flaws of this game, aside from the all that violence, may make it unplayable to a younger audience without excessive FPS experience.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing: This game includes subtitles that can be turned on and off from the options menu.

Jason Karney 12-16-2008 08:16 PM

Re: Please Rate This Review: Legendary
 
Hey there,

I think you're off to a good start on this review. It has a sense of character to it, which I like. And I definitely feel the disappointment you experienced laying Legendary, so your message is clearly conveyed.

This is the core of a good review; it would benefit from some general editing, I think. There are a lot of lengthy or run-on sentences.

Those two paragraphs describing the opening and some of the initial plot twists could be handled in a few sentences; and I think the details should be omitted, so as not to spoil the opening for a new player.

You were really good about staying in first person, and talking about your experiences with the game. I only caught one second person reference -- "you now have to fight two! " -- which is generally something to avoid when writing reviews. Again, you did good on that one.

I would restructure the ending a bit, probably streamlining the last three paragraphs to talk about what I dislike and ending on a strong statement. The para about lost potential could probably be used in the opening of your review. Then at the end, revisit that and give your final thoughts on where the potential was wasted (as already described).

--Jason

Brad Gallaway 12-17-2008 01:27 AM

Re: Please Rate This Review: Legendary
 
I agree with all of Jason's comments. You have a good core review here, it just needs some polishing up… some grammatical things, a few issues with sentence structure here and there. The opening could be shortened, and the end needs a little more punch.

I like your piece about the “rail shooter” and you do a good job about explaining why the bosses are disappointing… the piece about the Signet’s shortcomings right at the end feels a little tacked-on, though. It would probably serve better earlier in the piece.

All in all, this isn't a bad review. You should tweak it a little bit and resubmit, it's not too far off.


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