By Michael Richter |
Every culture has its stories about the end of the world; a cataclysmic time where, amongst other things, tragedies befall the population and chaos reigns across the globe. Only in videogames can a player be both the cause of the apocalypse and the potential salvation of the human race, reversing the horrible effects of the disasters on earth. In Legendary, Spark Unlimited and Gamecock's recently released shooter, players get to take on this role, destroying mythical creatures as they try to save the world. Unfortunately, bland gameplay mechanics -- coupled with indiscriminately thrown-together monsters and weak story development -- cripples this title from the start.
Legendary is the story of Charles Deckard, a thief that's tricked by a mysterious employer named LeFey and his associate, Vivian, into breaking into a New York museum and inserting an object into an ornate golden box. Unbeknownst to Deckard, the box is actually Pandora's Box, the mythical repository designed to hold all the world's evil. By opening the box, Deckard unleashes a large number of supernatural creatures upon the world, destroying society and threatening to erase humanity from the globe. Even worse, Deckard is branded with a mysterious sigil on his hand as punishment for opening the cursed artifact. As he struggles to understand what's going on, both he and Vivian are double crossed by LeFey, leaving the pair to fend for themselves in the ruins of the destroyed city. It's up to Deckard (along with Vivian's help) to defeat LeFey's disastrous plans, eliminate the beasts released into the world and seal Pandora's Box once again.
Click here to watch unleash the hounds.
Initially, the concept of Legendary could have been an incredible one: apart from the monsters and end of the world implications, it covers secret societies that have been fighting each other for centuries over an artifact of incredible power, as well as supernatural abilities imparted on the unfortunate person that opens the box itself. However, the story is poorly developed, which leaves many of these elements flat and boring. Let's start with the limited scope of the game, which moves from New York to the outskirts of London, then into London itself and finally returns to New York for the conclusion of the game, which will take about ten hours or so to complete.
Not only are the environments not distinctive or unique enough, you frequently feel as though you're retreading the exact same ground over and over again. You'll move through hallways that look the same as four or five others, subway tunnels and platforms that are copied and pasted from one area to the next, and apparently every door in this world is equipped with electronic locks that can be bypassed by touching wires together.
What's more, you'll easily be able to guess what will happen in the plot, because it's so obviously telegraphed from moment to moment. While it's nice to be able to destroy some elements of the environment by breaking shelves, boxes and other items, the nondescript nature of the surroundings that you find yourself in, as well as how limited the scope of the game is, makes the adventure not feel nearly as "Legendary" as indicated by the title. When you realize that the ending of the game is set up for an obvious sequel or series of games, but you don't really feel like you've gone anywhere or done anything, you know that the ball was dropped somewhere in development.
That can't be good.
The next problem is attached to the monsters, which come off as a cobbled together mélange of beasts without any rhyme or reason to being included in the story, other than a designer thought they might be cool to include in the game. In the first half of the game, players are introduced to things like firedrakes, griffons and werewolves, but the mix of these differing mythological beasts is never explained. Why creatures from Greek, Asian and other cultures would suddenly pop up in one city or another is a mystery that's completely left alone to the whim of saying "the box called them forth," which is a copout that highlights the aforementioned lackluster storytelling. Instead of being the manifestation of fears, which many of these mythical creatures were, these beasts are thrown haphazardly together as obstacles that you simply need to get through.
It's also quite obvious that much of the attention was paid to the werewolves more than any other creature, primarily because of just how doggedly (no pun intended) they chase you. Unfortunately, the other beasts in the game come across as extremely flat. What's more, when it comes to killing these creatures, the game does a mix of holding your hand and leaving it up to you to figure out how to destroy them (something that isn't particularly difficult in some cases, like water for a fire monster), which feels like an insult to the player's intelligence.