Review by Phange

"It has all the fundamentals of the genre and little else"

Untold Legends is special in a number of ways. First, it's extremely rare to find an RPG at the launch of any platform. Second, it's even more rare to find a Diablo-style hack-n-slash game on a handheld. Combine these two rarities together and you see why Untold Legends is such a hot topic. The game was developed by Sony Online Entertainment, which is ironic considering the game has absolutely no online features. This is a disappointment because the PSP had online games from day one, and Untold Legends fits the online gameplay style to a T. That said, the game seems to rely on being barebones in practically every sense. There's just enough territories to explore, just enough items to collect, just enough move customization, and just enough multiplayer to make it a satisfactory game for its genre. There isn't anything particularly wrong with the game, yet there isn't anything that truly stands out as being excellent or unique.

Graphics

Untold Legends is a great showcase of the PSP's incredible texturing abilities. While the polygon count isn't anything to write home about, the textures themselves are absolutely phenomenal. In fact, if you zoom close to your character you'll swear you haven't seen very many games more detailed on the PS2. It's a feast for the eyes, but it does come at a cost. The game heavily relies on darkness, and many times pitch-black will be the only indicator of anything beyond a wall. This is a problem mainly because the PSP's screen seems to have trouble refreshing colors like black and red as fast as it refreshes other colors.

Because of this, you'll notice that the game has a "blurry" feel to it if you're walking through corridors that involve a lot of black "netherspace" beyond walls. It's initially a big detractor, but eventually you'll get used to the refresh problems and you won't even notice it.

The character models, aside from having a pathetically small amount of customization options, look very good. All of the characters (including the NPCs and monsters) have very high polygon counts and are impressively textured. Weapons also look great, and the "enchant" effects are very well done.

This game doesn't win any technical awards beyond the great texturing, but it does show how eerily close the PSP can get to PS2 graphics.

Sound

Whoever let the 4-year-old onto the electric keyboard needs to be fired. This game has a TERRIBLE soundtrack, and it's made even worse by the fact that the tunes are unbearably synthesized. The PSP is a disc-based system, and sound of this quality is unacceptable.

The sound effects get the job done.

Gameplay

The core components of the Hack-n-slash genre are all exhibited in this game. Constant weapon upgrades, dungeon crawling, hundreds of missions, and multiplayer. The primary single-player adventure takes you to a city in peril, but frankly you won't care much for the story because it's just a lame excuse to get to the fun massacre of enemies. You'll find yourself deep within multi-storied dungeons, literally obliterating hundreds and hundreds of enemies within a fairly short time. In fact, depending on the character class (Berzerker and Knight especially), you can literally dominate 10 or 12 enemies at once. While the game itself is a bit too easy for a hardcore action RPG fan, it is nice to see Matrix-level battles between your character and millions upon millions of enemies.

Unfortunately, that's just about all you do. The missions are almost always "go to this dungeon and kill the boss", and generally speaking the boss is some small minion who's not much more powerful than a normal enemy... meaning you wipe the floor with him. The game constantly upgrades enemies based on your level, which actually creates a paradox. Every dungeon in the game is filled with equally hard enemies. Basically, you could max your level and fight max-level enemies in the very first sewer area under the city. This makes going to "elite" areas somewhat pointless, and the item drops rarely change depending on the area.

Random dungeon crawling, a staple of some hack-n-slash games, is also pointless. You'll find that you won't be able to continue on your dungeon-crawl because you lack a certain item to proceed. Even if you DO manage to get to the end, you'll find some puny boss that gives you nothing but experience and a weak item. It's disappointing to know that you killed a boss, only to find out that you have to kill him AGAIN to complete some later quest.

Overall

Untold Legends covers all the basics of its genre. However, it's little more than the barebones of everything it represents. For a handheld game, it's second to none. As a game in general, it could have been much, much better.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/08/05


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