It’s that time of the year when the game market is flooded to levels where gamers can potentially choke to death on so much digital carnage. With plenty of third and first-person shooters trying to bust through the gates like Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond and climb to the top of the mountain of über-awesome-best-shooter-08, there’s a lot of competition.
One of the contenders this season is Spark Unlimited’s mythical monster killing FPS, Legendary. Is the game a legendary cult hit underdog meant to combat the established heavies or merely a legendary pile of crap? Read on to unravel the mystery.
The concept and basic premise behind Legendary is pretty brilliant. A professional thief, Charles Deckard, is hired by a man named LeFey (spoiler: he’s evil!) and his associate, Vivian Kane, to sneak into a NYC museum, open a fancy looking box and retrieve its contents. Unfortunately, that box just so happens to be the mythical Pandora’s Box and the contents are all manner of horrific creatures that could be hiding in your closet or under your bed as you read this. As an added bonus to unleashing doomsday upon the world, Charles’ hand is branded with the Signet which ties him to the box and grants mystical powers. It’s at this point both Charles and Vivian are double-crossed by LeFey, join forces and team up with the Council of 98 — the good organization tasked with keeping Pandora’s Box secrets a secret — to save their asses and the asses of the world from not only the creatures but The Black Order — the evil organization lead by LeFey to take over the world — as well.
Sadly, the glimmer of brilliance was quickly snuffed out for me once they introduced the two organizations and things rolled rapidly downhill from there. First off, the entire story is one big cliché after another — evil billionaire, opposing factions, unlikely hero. It all feels very “copy and paste,” even down to the point when your professional thief protagonist is a badass with machine guns and squads of soldiers following him, of which he is always the sole survivor. Maybe I’m just jaded, but this scenario has been done to death and really didn’t need to be revisited, especially with a great concept involving Pandora’s Box — it’s wasted potential. From here on, it’s a very by-the-book FPS with nothing standing out to make it feel like anything new.
Graphically, the game is hit and miss. Environments shrouded in darkness look rather nice with small spots of light shining through to highlight shiny, red patches of blood which is pretty effective in setting a mood. However, brighter areas resemble something out of a PS2 game with blocky objects, low-res textures and a general lack of anything that feels polished. I also noticed significant framerate drops when there were too many particle effects going on at once and it wasn’t an isolated incident. Did I mention the game uses the Unreal Engine 3? Well, it does and no doubt you’ve seen what it’s capable of producing which is leagues beyond what you’ll see in Legendary.
The monster variety is rather limited, offering around seven creatures pulled from various world mythologies and generic, evil soldier cannon fodder that have only one skin. While seven may seem like a pretty decent amount of beasties, when you mainly fight werewolves and a bunch of dudes in black armor, it feels like an unsatisfying dinner with no dessert. You’d think Pandora’s Box would be the Noah’s Ark of evil sh*t, flooding our world with, at least, dozens of horrors. Instead, it’s more like an evil box of animal crackers and that’s sad pajamas.
That brings us to your arsenal for death dealing. What’s a FPS game without a healthy supply of things that make with the bang and boom? Sadly, there’s really nothing here that will get you excited. You’ll have a rather standard assortment of pistols, machine guns, a shotgun, a rocket launcher and a flamethrower — that will get you killed more than it will kill — along with grenades and molotov cocktails. You might remember the Signet I mentioned that is branded on your hand and gives you some extra powers. Don’t get your hopes of unleashing Hell upon your enemies and watching their faces melt off like that scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s used to either absorb Animus — the life force of the creatures which you can use to heal yourself — charge objects with Animus and create a small force push that knocks enemies back a little, also making them visible should they have the power to cloak. It’s as unexciting as it sounds, especially when you’re waiting the entire time for something big to happen. Lesson learned: saving the world does not always net you awesome stuff.
Finally we come to the part where I talk about the controls. Controls are important and can make or break a game, right? Yeah and not surprisingly they’re a little wonky in Legendary. Aiming is a rather annoying affair as you can never seem to pin point properly. Shooting enemies at a distance will drive you a little batty due to a mix of the weapons just not feeling accurate or like they’re doing any damage alongside an inability to fine tune where you’re pointing. Jumping is a mystery unto itself in that Deckard moves about an inch vertically, yet can do a running leap that would clear a football field. It’s especially annoying when there’s something blocking your way that you absolutely know you should be able to jump over but due to the game’s artificial restrictions, you can’t. There’s also the business of the Animus action button having multiple purposes and at times the game will get confused on whether you’re trying to suck energy, heal yourself or charge an object which makes things very frustrating when you have an army of werewolves trying to eat your face.
At the end of the day, Legendary is a game I can’t really recommend to anyone as a purchase, especially while we’re neck deep in the holiday gaming season with AAA blockbusters trying to get everyone’s attention. It’s about as average as a FPS can get with a brilliant concept, flawed execution and a lackluster mulitplayer mode — one mode; not very fun.
During my six hour run — yes, the entire game took me six hours to finish — I couldn’t help but think about Turning Point: Fall of Liberty which was another FPS with a great idea that ended up being pretty awful. As it turns out, both games are from the same developer: Spark Unlimited. No doubt the worst part about the game is seeing such potential handled so poorly and it’s a crime. Do yourself a favor and skip this one unless you’re really hard up for just another FPS or really like going against the grain.
- Excellent concept
- Decent voice acting
- Dark environments set a great mood
- Can be completed in 6 hours
- Can be completed in 6 hours
- Wonky controls
- Rough graphics
- Potential flushed down the toilet