Legendary [Xbox 360, PS3, PC]
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1-12
Developer: Spark Unlimited
Release Date: November 4th, 2008
I’m well-aware that the title of this game, Legendary, is tied to its farce of a plot, but methinks a reconsideration would’ve helped it avoid naturally-conceived high expectations at retail. Not that a mere title change could’ve done anything in the end either way, because this experience is plain bad. It’s not unplayable, but ten minutes is all you need to reach the conclusion that the project saw very little time in the QA department. Spark Unlimited’s opportunity to improve upon Turning Point: Fall of Liberty fell way short of the mark. It’s a shame; perhaps they should’ve tried another unique retelling of American history. Better yet, maybe the company needs to shift its focus to a different genre.
Charles Decker is contractually duped into opening Pandora’s Box by a man named LeFey. Well, yours truly is quite puzzled as to how he manages such a feat. Would such a relic not be guarded by the stiffest security that money can buy? Seriously, the man walks through the door leading to the artifact’s room completely uncontested. No cameras, trip lasers, or glass case for that matter! Even better, when Decker inserts the key, the mythological box proceeds to clamp down on his hand, stab through it with some kind of spear thingy. Iinstead of feeling pain, Charlie walks away with a nice prize, the Signet, which grants him a mystical relationship with the Animus energy left behind by dead werewolves, griffons, etc. If anyone thinks they can tell me how this whole concept isn’t completely bonkers, I’m all ears.
Stupid plot aside, Legendary is a first-person shooter that unsurprisingly runs on Epic’s Unreal Engine 3. Too bad that doesn’t mean an automatic perfect gameplay score, as Spark was clearly at odds with telling it what to do. On its foundation, Legendary provides fun guns to fire. The problem is that drilling enemies with lead isn’t very fun. The Black Order soldiers, LeFey’s cronies, are the only foe that didn’t completely piss me off at one point or other. That’s because Pandora’s creatures have unfair attack range. I found that if you’re anywhere near a baddie that’s ready to take a swipe, it’s unavoidable almost every time regardless of the distance you put between. This can result in plenty of cheap deaths, especially at the hands of the infuriating flying cherubs. This author was also flabbergasted by the jump and sprint mechanics. With the former, Charles must have had two 50lb weights tied around his ankles, because his vertical reach is pitiful. Yet oddly enough, a sprinting jump would easily score Decker a platinum medal in the long jump at the next Olympic summer games. I don’t know who chose how fast he can jet, but let’s just say our mute hero could legitimately compete with The Flash.
Technical issues also abound. The frame rate pops often, about every ten to twenty seconds or so, and the game turns into a slideshow when a lot is happening on-screen. Add texture flickering and screen tear to the laundry list, and you have a game that obviously saw very little if any optimization treatment.
The presentation isn’t a total downer though. The creatures, especially the alpha werewolf, minotaur and griffon, were modeled well. The Limos Werewolves is the ugly exception. The special effects are also nifty. Dust clouds that erupt when the environments fall apart are very convincing, and I particularly liked how realistically Big Ben crumbled at the hands of a Kraken. The fire and water effects aren’t bad either, despite their rendering being superior in many other shooters. The same goes for the guns. They all look convincing, and the recoil is mostly well-done.
The sound production fares a similar fate. The bad amounts to laughable voice acting, which was truthfully the victim of a poorly-written script. Legendary is one of those rare games that made me cringe a lot when I heard talking. The rest of the package isn’t too shabby however. The weapons pack a nice punch, and the rock soundtrack strangely fits for the action, despite the increase of tempo making a pending ambush blatantly obvious. Speaking of which, going off-topic here…I hate the enemy waves in this game. They make survival a royal pain, especially if you’re unlucky enough to be pinned against an object. Well you can’t climb a tile wall folks, nor can Decker jump to save his life, literally.
Supplementing the around eight hour campaign is the tumbleweed online multiplayer. For those I just thoroughly confused, Legendary features online competitive support, but it’s telling that nobody wants to kill each other while Pandora’s underlings wreak havoc. Thus keep your attention on what’s worthwhile: Halo 3, Resistance 2, Call of Duty, Killzone 2, etc.
Legendary is without a doubt a gaming industry legend, but it’s not one that any release should ever want to be. There’s occasional fun, but it’s otherwise too frustrating, difficult or annoying [thanks to the abundant glitches] for me to comfortably recommend at all. I rented this and still feel like I wasted my time and money, so you’ve been warned. I respect the second attempt Spark Unlimited, but first-person shooters are clearly not your territory.
Final Score (Not an average): 4/10