December 15, 2008

Can Legendary, a game with a halfway decent plot, atmosphere and pace carry a game with bad mechanics?

When a mysterious relic is brought up from the sea floor, you are hired by an antiquarian to steal the famed artifact. What seems like a simple task turns deadly when you realize you were unwittingly set up to open Pandora’s Box and let loose all the monsters of mythology into the modern world. Emblazoned with the signet and a power to stop the demons, you are hunted by werewolves and your ex-employers mercenaries as you desperately try to seal in the horrors you unleashed.

What starts out as a cool premise is quickly shattered by the actual mechanics of this game, despite the cool atmosphere. Right from the beginning you get a sense that something just isn’t right here; the gun positioning on screen is off, and the controls feel way too loose, despite being adjustable through the options menu. More to the point, the one trick pony of this show is a hobbled one; the powers bestowed by Pandora’s Box are ironically more of a curse to the player than a benefit.

Using the signet, you have the ability to suck up animus, a sort of energy left by the monsters, to refill your health as well as store as energy to use against enemies. Problem is the game is so unforgiving, even on the lowest difficulty setting, that you will constantly be low on both health and stored energy to do anything with it. Practically useless against the monsters, this energy is better used tending your health, although trying to do that while being attacked is impossible and all the more frustrating. Luckily the standard FPS mechanics and plenty of ammunition save this title from being completely unplayable.

Designed from a run and gun perspective, it is all about the pace. You are not meant to stop and stare at the lacking environments. You are supposed to jump a little as a werewolf comes screaming through a door or a griffon plucks an unwitting victim from right in front of you as you navigate the linear path. Spark nailed the atmosphere, giving you a strong impulse to just keep going for survival’s sake. Creature graphics were favored over area details and while the overall graphics are nothing to write home about, they get the job done.

In short, the game seems half finished, like the multiplayer, hoping a good premise can save a flawed game. If you are looking for a good FPS, there are a bunch of titles that are better than this. If you are looking to see how they interpret the Japanese Blood Spider myth (don’t ask), the game may seem playable, if barely.

ESRB: Mature for Blood, mild gore and plenty of bullets
Plays Like: Mythology themed First Person Shooter
Pros: Fast paced action with more than a few wow moments
Cons: Broken; mechanics and gameplay seriously flawed

Score: 2/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.