It seems as though all too often a great idea for a video game becomes a less than amusing game. Ideas are, sadly, sometimes hard to translate from paper to bits and bytes. As a case in point, take the recent PlayStation 3 release Legendary.
Legendary sounds like it could be a great game – it starts with the player opening Pandora’s Box and unleashing hordes of evil beasties into the world. You then has to battle through the beasties, trying to put together the pieces of exactly why you were hired to open the box in the first place (you’re something of a thief and were on a job). There are evil groups and nefarious plots at work, plus there’s the matter of sending all the evil creatures, among them gryphons, werewolves, and firedrakes (oh my!) back from whence the came.
For a first person shooter, that’s a pretty solid plot. Unfortunately, Legendary never really delves into any of the questions, the player just goes through each level – all of which pretty much look the same – blasting enemies. Yes this is a first person shooter, so some over-the-top blasting of enemies is required, but the lack of differentiation between levels and depth in the story makes one feel as though the genre hasn’t progressed passed Wolfenstein 3D.
The graphics in Legendary are, at best, as uneven as the plot on which the game is built. None of the levels look terribly great, but neither are they boring (at least the first time you see each of the various terrains). The creatures on the other hand are far more variable. The werewolves – seemingly the game’s centerpiece creature – look quite good, but some of the others, like the firedrake, are just kind of there.
However, plot, mundane level design, and uneven graphics aside, the biggest problem with the game is that it’s simply obnoxious. From the first moment you get to actually play the game, it’s clear that you know far better how to proceed than the game. Picture this – you’re in a museum, you’ve opened Pandora’s Box, the museum is breaking apart. Do you A) jump over the little thing blocking the stairs and get out, or B) wait for your partner who is not in the museum to rundown for you what exactly is taking place and for her to suggest you make your way out. If you chose “B” you probably won’t mind that on your way out of the museum you can’t initially jump over objects because the game hasn’t taught you how (and clearly you’re too foolish to read that page of the manual) and that if you follow your partner’s instructions you’ll exit the museum too soon and have to wait for the monsters to clear you a path before you can proceed further. However, if you’re the kind of person that sees a building falling down around them and think “golly gee, I should exit this place” and then tries to do just that, almost everything that follows will annoy you.
Your character, Charles Deckard, as a result of his opening Pandora’s Box gets a swell Animus tattoo on his hand at the beginning of the game. After dispatching an enemy, Deckard can suck up their remaining life force, which is then used for healing and a few other small tricks here and there (energy pulses, repelling things, etc.). It’s an interesting notion, and even if I can’t quite wrap my head around why the tattoo should allow Deckard to use Animus to heal himself, I can accept that it does.
What’s harder to accept is that in this day and age, too many things in Deckard’s world cannot be interacted with. When one comes across a person on the street (or in the subway), it may not be good manners to shoot them (unless they’re evil) in a game, but I fully expect to be able to shoot them. Legendary doesn’t allow that, like magic, your bullets will pass right through anything the game doesn’t want you to bother with… usually. You see, you can do some pretty good blasting of furniture and some other inanimate objects… sometimes.
In the end, that’s pretty much sums up Legendary – there are good ideas there, and some things are handled well, except when they aren’t, which is most of the time. There’s a multiplayer included in the game as well. It consists of pitting a maximum of four players against another four in various formats like capture the flag and deathmatch. Werewolves are integrated into the multiplayer, but after playing the main game you probably won’t want to see them anymore anyway.
As to the actual mechanics and fun involved in the multiplayer, that’s a little bit harder to say. This reviewer spent hours on end trying to join multiplayer matches and creating my own and waiting for others to join it. Sadly, only once did I manage to find another player and they quit after a mere 30 seconds. As the game has been on store shelves for over two months enough copies ought to be in existence to make a multiplayer match a reality. Why aren’t people interested in multiplayer Legendary? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because their disappointment with the regular game was so great they didn’t want to spend more time with it, but that’s just conjecture.
I do know for a certainty that I won’t be putting the game back into my PS3 for some time to come, it’s a good idea that’s just carried out in very poor manner.
Legendary is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for blood & gore and intense violence. This game can also be found on PC and Xbox 360.
Two stars out of five.