Review: Legendary

A broken FPS with an interesting premise, cool scripted scenes, and a so-bad-it’s-good story.

Developer: Spark Unlimited
Publisher: Gamecock Media Group
Release date: November 21, 2008
Reviewed on: PC

One Sunny Mt. Olympus Day

Legend has it that nice guy Prometheus had the misfortune of stealing fire from the gods so that we regular humans could keep our feet warm when it rains and so that pirates could make beef jerky. Zeus thought that this was rather rude, and after knuckle sandwiching Prometheus, decided to bitchslap the entire human race for the lulz.

He devised a most devious plan of putting all the evils of the world – famine, poverty, disease, and Uwe Bowl films – into a box (actually a jar, but hey) and giving it to Pandora, the first woman on Earth. Pandora, being a creature of the naturally curious sort, opened the jar, the evils were released, and that was the end of that.

To all of which developer Spark Unlimited and publisher Gamecock Media Group said, “O’RLY?”

Gamecock Media Group Proudly Presents

You play the game as Charles Deckard, a character only slightly more multidimensional than a retarded panda.

Legendary’s slideshow intro sequence quickly introduces Charles as an art thief working for an elderly gentleman inconspicuously named LeFey.

The rest of the not-particularly-coherent slideshow tells the story of how, after recovering and thoroughly studying the Pandora’s Box (that looks reminiscent of the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark), the scientists collectively give up on it and put it where it belongs – that is, in a museum.

LeFey hires the protagonist to steal the contents of the box, and this is where the game actually starts.

Our first in-game cutscene shows Charles Deckard, the expert thief that he is, walking into the museum in broad daylight and sticking LeFey’s key into the artifact. Upon opening the Pandora’s Box, the city of New York is immediately invaded by werewolves, griffons, some minotaurs, and a bunch of beefed up oversized fire-breathing Komodo dragons. Charles grabs an axe and heads for the exit.

Mommy, why is that man drooling on himself?

By now you’ve probably guessed that Legendary’s story is idiotic at best.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that never did I have the impression that it tries to take itself seriously and be something more than an excuse to let you fight werewolves. Because if it did, things could’ve been much worse. The developers did a good job throwing one scripted scene after another at the player, and no portion in the game feels dragged out. Sadly, the scripted scenes and quick locale changes (not to be confused with level variety) are just about the only two things the game’s got going for itself. Apart from the werewolves, of course. But that doesn’t count, because werewolves double the awesome in anything.

Looks-wise, while there are some things that the game manages to pull off well – griffon-filled skies, a sequence with a golem made of magnetized car parts, and a few other elements here and there, you’d need beer goggles to think the game pretty.

Blood glisters like red-colored foil, the human soldiers look like they walked out of 2003, and the textures are uninspired at best. And since it’s the Unreal Engine 3 powering the game, this is rather sad, leaving the aftertaste of the devs trying to race a Formula 1 car with the driving experience of a roadkill.

Sucking Animus, “Sucking” Being the Operative Word

The gameplay is straightforward. Take the gun, shoot the monster. Pick up a bigger gun, shoot the bigger monster.

The only deviation here from the standard run-and-gun routine is the health pickup system. Opening the Pandora’s Box had the side-effect of giving Mister Deckard the power to suck in the life essence of the monsters he slays (in honor of Altair, of Assassin’s Creed fame, the life essence is called Animus). So instead of med-kits and Half-Life-esque health stations, you press a button and suck in a glowing substance that’s left behind every non-human corpse in the game. This mechanic, while making the game easier, completely takes away from the feeling of fighting for your life. You become the hunter, not the hunted. After all, the more corpses you leave behind, the better your chances. This would’ve worked fine for Duke Nukem, but Charles Deckard’s not that badass. Not even close.

Navigating your less-than-badass main character through Legendary’s levels, no matter how linear, can become an annoyance, especially considering the fact that when Charles jumps, he never manages to get his feet higher than two centimeters off the ground.

The terrible puzzles in the first couple of hours of play do not help either. Luckily for us, the level designers either simply gave up on the puzzles later in the game, or threw the man responsible to the werewolves.

Good Wolves

Your standard issue LeFey ground troopers are brainwashed to the point that no brain matter remained. Their favorite (and only) tactic is to run straight for you and then to run (straight) away from you. Strangely enough they’re the toughest enemies in the game because the programmers decided to make up for their non-existent AI with aimbot accuracy.

Then there are the werewolves. These are actually pretty neat. They jump around, hurl random objects at you, climb surfaces, and are genuinely fun to fight. You have to either shoot or chop their heads off to make them stay dead. A couple of notable moments are owed to the pixies, which resemble evil looking baby bastards. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a chance to see an evil looking baby bastard in real life, but these pixies look just like them. In one segment of the game they possess a soda dispenser and hurl soda cans at you. All in all, though, the bestiary is nothing special, perhaps with the exception of the Kraken you fight mid-game while it tries to eat the Parliament of the United Kingdom. God save the Queen.

Zeus Pities the Fools

I’ve had to search the Internets on how to edit some of the game files so that I could get past a bug in the last level (I kept falling to oblivion straight through an elevator floor). Yes, Legendary may be broken, and the AI is next to null, and yes, it sports some amazingly terrible writing. But the matter of the fact is that I did edit those files so that I could get to the fantastically unsatisfying ending of a game no one forced me to play.

Why? Because the game’s developers did one thing right – they never let me get bored. And I wanted to see what happens next in the stupefying story, and I wanted to see another scripted scene where a griffon rips through a werewolf’s torso or a werewolf bites some poor chap’s head off, and I wanted to see how it all ends. Some game critics would have you believe that this game is a terrible piece of trash and a disgrace to the genre, but it is not. Legendary is by no means terrible.

It’s just not very good.

My Rating: 2/5 Penguins


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