Review by Marikhen
I installed, I played, I quit.
Legendary is the name of the game, but it will never be an adjective used to describe the game.
The game starts out in an interesting fashion. You're a thief sent to steal something from inside a box in a museum. Well, there's a small problem with that. The box is Pandora's Box and all hell breaks loose, or at least a mythological sub-set of it at least. It's an interesting premise, and one that should be looked at in the future by another company. Unfortunately, the people who made Legendary really botched it.
Graphics get a lot of hype and this game has decent graphics, for the most part. There are a few issues that show up, one within the first 10 minutes of the game. Mobile models, players, humans, and monsters, are all done in fairly decent detail, and if some monsters like the werewolves seem a bit bland by modern standards others, like the fire drake, are not.
The problem that shows up early on is that the corpses left on the ground are ugly. Now, I'm used to ugly as in gruesome but these are just plain ugly. There are some corpses where the skins/textures are so badly pixelated that they look like something a Playstation title. Playstation, not Playstation 2, and I'm not kidding or exaggerating. This is, very sadly, one of the few titles that I can truly say that about.
Still, that's probably the most glaring graphical problem in the game. The remainder are small details such as bullet marks on the walls appearing haphazardly in areas like elevators. In addition the game tries to help you by highlighting objects you need to interact with and while this often does the job there are a few instances where it falls through. These instances usually aren't a problem because at those times it's usually hard to not find what you need to turn, push, short-circuit, or blow up. By themselves they wouldn't be that bad but when combined with the other issues make the game feel like someone's attention wandered, a lot, while it was being made.
Audio is another one of the big areas where a game can seriously screw up, and while Legendary doesn't have some of the same problems with the audio as it does the video, it does have its share. The voice acting is, overall, decent. I wouldn't call it superb but neither does it make me run the game without the audio.
The major problems are that the sound effects are pretty much "same old same old" with nothing truly new and the music, while often interesting, is very sparse. The scarcity of music is more of a personal issue than a game issue, but this review is my opinion and as such it's not a good thing. By the same token fairly average sound effects aren't necessarily a bad thing as they at least don't make playing the game any worse, usually. There are a few that the game could have done without. Constantly hearing the giggling and shrieking of small children when some monsters show up and having minotaurs that sound like real life bulls, and not particularly large bulls, gets annoying fairly quickly.
The game play also shows all the hallmarks of not having been given enough attention. When I first played Half-Life it was after Quake 2 and being used to jumping in Quake 2 I felt like I was "bunny hopping" in Half-Life. Well, I no longer feel that way after playing Legendary. I have, on more than a couple of occasions, had to spend 30-60 minutes repeatedly spamming jump to get over a barrier that my character should have been able to climb or, sometimes, even walk over. Considering how crowded and confused several of the areas are this usage of quasi-realistic jumping, or bunny hopping, serves to make them frustrating.
The maps don't exactly help much with the frustration either as most of them are designed around small tight areas with only one way through and larger areas with an entrance, an exit, a lot of junk keeping you from moving around freely, and a bunch of monsters or humans shooting at you. First-person shooters can often only allow the player so much freedom, but even with that in mind the maps of Legendary are often feel very tight and very cluttered.
Another one of the issues with the map design is how it handles instant death objects. Many of them make sense but their application leaves something to be desired. Subway trains which cream you with little to no warning while you're in a firefight with multiple monsters, all because the poor map design is making you wander all over the place trying to find out where to go next, is frustrating. It gets more frustrating later on when you find some of the other ways of dying instantly without any significant warning.
Along the way the game introduces something which goes back to the old days of FPS titles, (re)spawning monsters. Several maps have them and while they're annoying they usually don't make the maps any harder. There are, however, a few instances where this feature significantly increases how frustrating it is to get through some parts of the game. They don't make it any more difficult to play the game, they just make it more difficult to stand playing the game.
Most of these issues, while often very frustrating and annoying, can be worked around. There is, however, one problem which cannot be worked around, at least for me.
After plugging through a sizable chunk of the game I get to go turn off a doomsday machine, lucky me, and along the way I get to rescue one of those cliche'ish characters who will then help you by making it possible for you to shut off said machine. Being near the end of the game I figured this is where it might actually pick up and be fun, but I was wrong. This is where I stopped playing the game and started writing this review.
Every last single bloody time I enter one specific elevator to go towards the doomsday machine I fall through the floor and often die. Even when I don't die I still have to reload from the last checkpoint as I am now outside of the map. This sort of bug reminds me of John Romero's Daikatana which, by all reports, required patching in order to actually play it. Legendary may be playable without patching, but beating it is a different matter it seems. Even running under compatibility mode as an administrator won't solve this problem, and neither will Spark Unlimited as there's no patch and the official web-site still has pre-order links up indicating that this game will likely never receive an official patch.
This game has a few other issues that are rather minor overall but still detract from the game. If you alt-tab out of the game you can't get back into it, or at least I can't. Furthermore, trying to close it by right-clicking on the task bar icon for it and selecting close doesn't work. Every time I've had to shut it down externally I've had to do it via closing the process in the task manager. If this weren't bad enough every time you load the game you're faced with running a gauntlet of a standard Cover-My-Ass disclaimer and copyright page followed by six, yes six, videos about Atari, Gamespy, Girls Gone Wild (exaggeration here), and who knows what else. The only good thing about them is that the programmers actually let you hit escape to skip them.
Overall the game just really isn't fun. I played it, didn't really get into it, kept playing it, and then to kill time decided I would actually make this game my review debut and play all the way through it just so I'd feel right about writing all this. Well, I didn't play all the way through the game and it's not my fault. I'm quite thankful for that really as I've developed a bit of a headache over the last couple hours of playing it.
What it really boils down to is that the levels are often very annoying, sometimes very frustrating, and could have used more work. The controls are usually decent in spite of the "realistic" two guns and a melee weapon approach to what you can have on you, but the bunny hop is still a serious killer. The fact that you, so far as I can tell, only ge one melee weapon in the game and you swing it like you're trying to bunt in baseball doesn't help.
This game also doesn't take any sort of pains to preserve your willing suspension of disbelief. One strike of an axe will cause serious damage to a computer monitor, but not break it apart. Most of the glass in the game is nigh invulnerable and the office chairs can take lots of abuse. Heck, I cheated and unloaded about 30 rockets at a desk in an office one time. The desk light moved but the desk, the ash tray on the desk, and the chair behind the desk all stayed where they were. I'll admit that too much flying around can get confusing and annoying but too little is also very annoying.
Now for the scoring.
Graphics: 4 - Small jolts to your willing suspension of disbelief like bullet holes only appearing on 10% of the walls in an elevator only serve to reinforce the major jolts PSX-era corpses and monsters that look under-detailed by modern standards.
Music: 6 - Interesting music and par to slightly over par voice acting help distinguish it from worse titles, but not by enough to warrant any classification higher than "fair."
Gameplay: 0 - Annoying maps and environments that are very low on interactivity don't warrant a score this low, but a game-breaking glitch that prevents you from beating it sure does.
Annoyance factor: 6 - This game probably isn't one of the most annoying I've played but it's still fairly annoying. Between windows that are rocket/axe/bullet-proof and maps with (re)spawning monsters that spawn them so as to seem intentionally designed to anger you the frustrating jumping and map design almost take second stage, but not quite.
This game would get an overall score higher than 2/10 if it weren't for the fall-through-the-elevator bug but it wouldn't be much higher. If the remainder of the game were more of the same stuff as I've played through it wouldn't warrant a score higher than 4/10.
The bug, however, is there, at least for me, and only the fact that I managed to play so much of it saved it from a "1/10 only because I couldn't rate it 0/10" type score.
Rating: 1.0 - Terrible
Product Release: Legendary (US, 11/18/08)
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