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Destructoid review: Legendary

11:04 PM on 11.09.2008 // Dyson

I'm pretty sure that everyone and their mother is playing a certain other game right now (rhymes with beers at four - poo), but, surprise, there are other releases that have come out that may be worth your attention, such as Spark Unlimited's Legendary.

As the only werewolf-hunting, griffin-killing, golem-destroying action FPS on the market, the title certainly has a big chance to bring something new to the genre. But does the game live up to its title? Hit the jump to see whether Legendary is, well, you know ...

Legendary (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PS3, PC)
Developed by Spark Unlimited
Published by Gamecock Media Group
Released on November 5, 2008
Played to completion on Normal

Unlike most FPS games that are released, Legendary eschews the Man vs Alien rhetoric in favor of pitting the game’s main character (Deckard) against an army of creatures once thought to be myth. By opening Pandora’s Box, the main character immediately finds himself thrust into a disaster situation of incredible proportions. Without wasting any time or plaguing the player with slow and boring tutorial levels, the action begins almost instantly and keeps the player going at a breakneck pace throughout the game.

With only one minor chapter in the game to give the player a break (Council HQ), Legendary keeps the action set to high by constantly keeping you moving from one “oh shit” moment to the next. While a good few of these moments are obvious and fairly scripted, the sheer quantity and variation thrown at you keeps the feeling of danger tangible for a majority of the game. The title does a very good job of creating tension in almost every aspect of gameplay by never letting you feel “safe.” Throughout the game, you are in constant fear of what may kill you next, while every new enemy that you come across one-ups the intensity of the last. (The Kraken battle is pretty cool.)

Facing off against the mythical creatures is the main thrust of the battles you meet, with the addition of the obligatory “shadow organization” thrown in to play the antagonist role. While the enemy soldier AI seems to be relegated to preset patterns, and sometimes serves as a mere annoyance, the constant barrage of werewolves, griffins, and other mythical creatures tends to keep the player from feeling any sort of redundancy. Unfortunately, there are more than several moments in the game where a player will have no idea what to do, and will be routinely killed in a “trial by error” type of method to determine the next step in the game.

Eventually, you start to figure out that the reason you're dying so often is mostly because rushing into every room and trying to blow everything away, à la every other FPS out there, does not make for a long life for Deckard. Legendary is set up as more of an action strategy shooter more than anything else, and thinking about your next move in that mindset will keep you alive slightly longer -- although you will get your ass handed to you on a regular basis no matter what.

To help guide you, there's Waypoint feature used in the game that helps direct the player on where they’re supposed to go next, but a lot of the times it doesn’t work very well and will certainly frustrate you. Usually, these moments are accompanied by an action sequence that is purposefully brutal, and the repetitive dying without knowing what to do becomes incredibly annoying to the point that some may walk away.

The first of these instances appears early in the game during the New York sequence. Upon the introduction of the Black Order soldiers while being pinned down on the city street, you are eventually led into a nearby building by a security guard who calls out to you. What triggers the security guard is still unknown to me. I died no less than 12 times in the same area trying figure out if I just had to wait, or if I had to kill all of the enemy soldiers. I still have no idea which of the two is the case. Meanwhile, the Waypoint falsely leads you around the level directing you to where you should eventually end up, thereby causing you to break cover and be killed very often. After that, you will soon find yourself doing some inappropriately placed 3D platforming in a warehouse filled with werewolves. While these points aren’t ubiquitous throughout the game, their appearance so soon into the experience may cause people to misjudge the entirety of the Legendary experience.

Thankfully, someone decided to keep the platforming confined to just one part of the game, and the rest of the title seems to borrow quite heavily from games such as BioShock and Condemned 2 with regard to its execution and level design. I noticed that the strong influence of BioShock can be seen in the game’s puzzle mechanics, so much so that any player will think “Yep. That’s like BioShock.”

NOM NOM NOM joke goes here.

While Legendary does borrow quite a bit from games that have preceded it, it does set itself apart by creating an intense action game that provides a quality experience. And while the graphics are certainly not of the highest caliber, the game’s slideshow-esque art style lends itself to the narrative well. There are the occasional in-game engine cut scenes, though, which are inexplicably unappealing. Fortunately, they are few and far between enough to not make too poor of an impact. The only true negative factor about them is the fact that they can’t be skipped. Considering how often you will die in Legendary, this seems terribly outdated.

The storyline doesn’t break any new ground or have any huge plot twists (myth monsters + shadow organization = bad), but it certainly doesn’t disappoint. While you’re never really at a loss as to how the whole thing will end, getting there is a completely enjoyable, and nerve-racking, experience. My only complaint, though, is that there are no new options given to you upon completing the game. Even though the ending sets up a sequel, I would have liked to have seen the ability to play through the game again with unlimited ammo or some other feature appear that would entice another playthrough.

Fuck these guys. I hate fighting these things.

All in all, I think that if you approach the game in the same way that you would approach a big summer blockbuster movie (fast-paced with lots of crazy action going on, not a whole lot of depth -- think Michael Bay), you'll find an overall enjoyable ride in the experience that Legendary provides. You're constantly barraged with the feeling of "Go! Go! Go!" from the minute you begin the game until you the time you complete it, and the adrenaline levels of your brain will be set to high throughout. 

However, it must be said that Legendary most certainly has its faults, one of them being the game has absolutely no replayabilty (WTF?). But it is worth your time to sit down and play through the game at least once. While I can't recommend that you purchase the title, I can say that a rental is definitely in order if you have the time. Legendary had its hiccups, but by the end of the show, I was more than pleased with the time I spent with it.

Except for the minotaurs. Fuck those goddamn things and their goddamn ability to kill the shit out of you EVERY time. 

Score: 7.75  (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)

Rent It!

[About this review: Unlike most reviews here at Destructoid, this review was written months prior to the game's release, and the version that was reviewed was purported to be the final build. At that time, there wasn't the ability to play the multiplayer features, so we waited until we had a retail build so that we could review the game in its entirety. It's sad to say, but I waited online for over 30 minutes with the retail copy in hopes that someone would jump into my created match, but no one, and I mean no one, was around for me to play against :( Regardless, I doubt that the one type of online play it provides will truly make any difference in the score. If I ever find anyone to play with and it does make a difference, I'll let you know.

A plus, though, was that the game actually looked a lot sharper than the build I had played for review, so there is that!]

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