I rented Legendary recently and managed to play it all the way through, whilst I enjoyed the game, there were many glaring problems with it, most notably the untapped potential. It seems like a trend lately, developers seem to do some things right but other things so terribly wrong. So I’ll start off with the good rather than the bad…
The graphics in Legendary whilst not ground-breaking are what you would expect from this generation of games and they do the imaginative world justice. The weapons are varied and pack the right amount of punch. Most of the enemies are a little different from your run of the mill run and shoot enemies, you’ll be fighting flying enemies which levitate items at you, werewolves that regenerate unless you chop off their heads and giant Minotaurs hell bent on bashing your skull in.
The story too is great, Pandora’s box has been found and opened and it has unleashed an army of mythical beasts that are completely tearing the world to pieces. And your character is linked to the box with the signet on his hand.
The good aspects stop there though, and straight away you will feel strangely at odds with your surroundings as you can jump no higher than about 2 inches, which for all intents and purposes renders jump pretty useless, why even have it there. There is a reason for this limited jump though, and that is the level design. The level designers must have hated the claustrophobic and decided to box you in on all sides with scenery and rubble. The level design is less like conventional design and more like a rat’s maze. For example in one of the early levels you are in Times Square, a large open air section where a massive golem is wreaking havoc.
However, rather than let you run around where you want to complete your objective the designers walled you in to walking an EXACT path through the level by lining up all the cars, buses and trucks they could find, funneling you exactly where they wanted you to go. This is the same in every level, there is basically no freedom in moving from the beginning of the level to the end, in the biggest and worst sense of the word this game is terribly linear. It really did not feel like a lively environment that I could emote with; all I could see everywhere I looked were barriers and walls stopping me from doing anything the level designers didn’t want me to do.
Another thing you will notice straight away is the security locks and the action of bypassing them, there are many, many doors in Legendary which are locked with a keypad that can be bypassed by standing in-front of it and holding X, this takes anywhere between 5 and 10 seconds. It felt to me as if the game designers finished the game and then decided that the game wasn’t long enough so they inserted locked doors who’s only purpose is to lengthen the gameplay. There was no reason for them to be there and no reason why holding X for 10 seconds to walk through a door is entertainment.
Bosses are pretty dire too, one is supposed to attack their weak points, i.e. behind them with the minotaur, however because the bosses have two moves: run at you & swipe, it’s really a boring affair, especially since most of the time the enemy is ALWAYS facing you and it is terribly hard to actually get behind them. To add to the frustration the moves they execute are generally a cone of effect swipe, meaning that if you’re anywhere in front of the boss, even 179 degrees to the side you will still get hurt.
The story is also a bit of a weak point for the game, set with such fantastic enemies and the mythos of Pandora’s box they really dropped the ball with the story progression in the game, especially the ending, when you finish the game you’re treated to an epilogue which left me thinking “why wasn’t this part of the story actually in the game?”
The final injustice in the Legendary saga is the difficulty, the game on easy difficulty is really easy for 85% of the action, however, it seemed to me that towards the end enemies started doing 4 times as much damage as previously. There didn’t seem to be a gradual increase of enemy strength it just jumped up from bullets tickling me to taking off large chunks of health. It just threw me off completely, I had gotten used to certain tactics, now all of a sudden everyone’s bullets are annoyingly powerful.
All in all Legendary was a good idea, but when it was put into practice by lackluster level design, incomplete story arc, dumb enemies and strange difficulty fluctuations it’s become a farce. Rent it and complete it in a few hours, 1 or 2 sittings should do it. Though, maybe even that is a bit much, if you don’t feel like a few hours investment go and play the demo, much like Mirror’s Edge the Legendary developers made the demo from the best level in the game. The level in the demo has atmosphere, regenerating werewolves and is probably the least walled in level in the game. When playing the full game I was waiting for that demo level to come up thinking it would be the point where the game got better, but then every level after I was wishing for it back.
Oh and before I go: If you do decide to play the game please be aware that you will be seeing the loading screen a LOT.