Indie publisher Gamecock has taken on quite a bit since its inception, supporting the development projects of many a company. We've seen mostly under-the-radar console content from them, but that will change on October 21st when we bear witness to what is undoubtedly their most ambitious undertaking yet. Legendary: The Box, or just Legendary, shall strike a sense of gratitude in the hearts of New York gamers thanks to Pandora's Box being an item produced by imaginative mythical lore. That's my fancy way of describing that it doesn't exist. Anyway, I say that because mute protagonist Charles Deckard is a freelance art thief who's been contracted by LeFey, a cult leader, to steal the very artifact from a museum in the heart of the liberty state. Charles apparently has a solid reputation amongst his employees, similar to that of Jason Statham in the Transporter films; he asks no questions and just delivers the goods. But those that have seen those movies should know where this is going. Deckard's curiosity manages to best his mental fortitude, and he ends up opening what can only be described as a portal of destruction. Absolute hell is unleashed on the fine metro of New York, and Mr. Deckard is the only one capable of stopping it, go figure.
Branded with the 'Signet', Charles quickly discovers that his deed has brought about total havoc, and that he must escape the museum if there's to be any chance of survival. Deckard also soon releases that the new marking on his hand has bestowed upon him two special powers that no one else has or can have. You see, he'll end up doing battle with the creatures invading the world, including: werewolves, minotaurs, gryphons, golems, and the like. In killing these monstrosities off, Charles can recover health by absorbing their animus. With a simple gesture of his hand, a werewolf's life force is drawn into him, and not only that, but Legendary is similar to Star Wars: TFU in that Deckard can make use of an Animus Push if his meter is filled enough. It's certainly not as powerful as the apprentice's in TFU, but it'll help Mr. Charles repel would-be attackers just long enough to pop a cap [with perhaps a shotgun].
There's something strange about the entire situation though. This LeFey had to have known about the less-than-favorable capabilities of Pandora's Box, yet he wants it. Why did he even ask for such a dangerous piece of ancient mythological history? Well if it isn't obvious enough, the man must be crazy because he thinks its power is controllable. As leader of the Black Order clan, Deckard's contractor seeks to rule the creatures brought into the world thanks to his slip-up and dominate the planet. Certainly Charles will have none of this, and that's why he joins the cause of the Council of 98 to exact vengeance on his would-be employer. Well, of course saving the world is part of the plan too.
Based on this information alone, Spark Unlimited is already in a better position than they'd been in with Turning Point. Despite shooters being as common as internet trolls nowadays, it's undeniable how cool Legendary's premise is. Even then, we're just warming up. Instead of trekking from corridor to corridor, blasting anything and everything in sight, The Box is all about immense scale and unbelievably spine-chilling encounters with the products of Pandora's Box. First and foremost, these vile beings don't give a hoot about what they shred to pieces. This is part of what's so intriguing about the game. Instead of having just LeFey's group to focus on killing, Legendary is all about a triangle and how you manage it. No matter which group may be brought in question: the Black Order, the Council of 98, or the invading creatures...each views the other two as someone or something to attack. That means werewolves will pursue members of the Council and Order, Order members will engage the Council (and vice versa), and each faction will also be fighting the animals. This very concept alone will make every minute of Legendary action a priceless experience, no pun intended. I won't even touch how you can push things further by pissing off the animals. Have fun find out how!
In order to accomplish all this, Spark set out to design the game's scale (which I'll elaborate on later) and the various creature AI with a modified version of Unreal 3 engine. Creating dynamic enemy intelligence is easily one of the greatest challenges of game development, yet Spark has seemingly done a wonderful job of making all hostile encounters a doozy. If you're not a hardcore shooter fan, chances are the game will destroy you, and that's thanks to just one of the beasts. Werewolves come in two breeds: betas and alphas. The former could be considered a common foe; however, running into an alpha will make that sweat trickle down. The white monsters are incredibly fast and agile, not to mention quite smart...but most importantly, absolutely brutal. Only a clean blast to the head (or chop, if you have an axe) is remotely enough for a one-hit kill. That's because they heal like my alter-ego Wolverine (real-time), while you're more like Shang Tsung (must be earned). The same goes for gryphons. Only weapons like the SAW, or smacking them down with a crumbled aerial object will do the trick. These birds are massive, can bite anything in half effortlessly, and spare no thought of carrying someone or something away into the sky. We all know that can't end well. Golems will just add to the chaos. Spark and Gamecock did their research and have made sure that these gargantuans are culminated accurately. They literally come to life by consolidating random objects throughout New York, whether that be scrap metal or full-length buses that serve as arms. There's simply no way around it, Legendary will be action-packed, and that's just the way we like it. The question of the hour remains, can you focus the beasts' attention on the Black Order long enough to have little to worry about, or will you fall prey to three-way fights every step of the way? Only time, and your wits, will tell.
Now for that scale, which again, Spark modified elements of the Unreal 3 engine to piece together what Legendary will offer. Folks, despite this title not being coined as open-world, it's sure going to feel that way given how huge NYC is mapped out, along with any other location that's included. Fade and draw distances, depth of field, bloom lighting...just about anything you could think of that could make a metro truly seem like one in a videogame, Spark has likely given it a shot on the development side. Further proof would be the thought, "How could so many deadly creatures fit into a virtual setting without causing the player to feel claustrophobia?" The answer, scale.
As grabbing as all this single player campaign content sounds though, the unexpected multiplayer is even more so. Sure it might be initially disappointing that only eight participants face off at any given time.....well actually, that's somewhat inaccurate. Yes there will be two teams of four competing, but not without some werewolves firing up the nervous system. The idea of this mode is for members of each team (which are split into the Black Order and Council of 98) to collect animus energy and deposit it into their team's bank. Of course there are catches. For one, betas relinquish far less than their superior counterparts, which begs teams to make some quick decisions. Two, while there are default weapons to start with, there are others hidden around the game's four shipped maps, and it would appear to be in our interest to find them. Three, just like in the main game, the werewolves don't care who you are; they attack what they see. That means you're not only facing that triangle situation again, but sometimes you're simply forced to work with your opponents. Perhaps the most important element though, and the one that is likely to annoy players the most, is camping. You see readers; the assault rifle will easily tear through a human player, while the shotgun is better geared towards the beasts' takedown. That means if you have one of each, someone can quite conveniently camp another team's energy hub with the assault rifle and keep their boom stick handy for any undesirable lycan encounters. Even worse is that energy can be stolen for your benefit. That means if you plan to absorb as much as your meter can handle, you better pray that no one (or nothing) else is hot on your tail when going for the dump, making all your effort moot. Instead of trying to one-up quality online titles like Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3, Legendary is going for a more unique approach, and we aren't complaining.
I'm almost inclined to inquire as to how Gamecock isn't in a huge hole supporting all the projects they have and are. Really, the publisher is still relatively new, really only known for Dementium so far, and already they're supporting multiple handheld and console developers? Does someone over there have deep pockets? That doesn't matter frankly, we're just glad that they can do this, because Legendary sounds especially attractive on paper. Let's just hope that unlike Turning Point, Spark redeems themselves (and doesn't disappoint Gamecock) by delivering where they truly need to with The Box. On the 21st, that relic will be unleashed. Meanwhile we pray that it's unpredictability doesn't tie into Legendary's potential success.