Review by LordShibas
Another Lackluster PSP RPG
In my quest to find a better than average PSP RPG, I decided to give Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade a try. Before playing, I was well aware that this game did not exactly receive stellar reviews, but I chose to go forth and play it anyway. I was able to snag it from Amazon for $8 new, so I really had little to lose.
Ive played quite a few dungeon crawler RPGs in my life, so I had quite a few games to compare it to, good and bad. After booting my PSP up with Untold Legends inside, it did not take me long to realize the first fault of the game ..the long loading times. Ive become accustomed to loading times in games, and they usually dont phase me too much, but Untold Legends may just take the cake in this area. I cant remember playing a game in recent memory with longer loading times.
When traveling between areas, the game will load for about 45 seconds to a minute. It wouldnt be so bad if it was a thing that happened ever now and then, but this is a dungeon crawler, and you will be getting lots of loot, so you will need to go back and forth to town often to unload it. You will need to sit through one of these load sessions on the way to the town, and on the way back. So just traveling to town, and unloading your loot can take 3-4 minutes of your precious gaming time.
It may seem bad at first, but you will kind of get used to it. So when you are about to jump to a new area, you will do so, and go take a bathroom break, or go check your email. Trying to be productive during the loading screens kind of makes it easier to swallow.
On the bright side, during the loading screens, you will be greeted with some pretty cool artwork to look at, but they will soon get old since you will be seeing them so often. Once you are in-game, things run a little bit smoother .until you get to your inventory menu. Once in your inventory menu, loading times will once again rear their ugly heads when you are trying you see what items you have in your inventory. At first, your inventory will show up as a bunch of empty squares and rectangles, but they will slowly fill in and display your inventory items. Now its time to hover over the inventory items and look at your armor and weapon stats. Again .you will see some short loading times as the information is displayed.
Yes, there is lots of loading in this game. Its no doubt the worst offender of crappy loading that I have ever seen in a game.
Okay .now that my short little loading rant is out of the way, I can talk about the actual game itself. Untold Legends is a standard dungeon crawling RPG, with little else. So you will be doing the normal things, such as questing, exploring dungeons, looting, talking to NPCs, and grinding. At the beginning you can choose one of 4 pre-determined character classes. You can choose a Knight, a Druid, an Alchemist, or a Berserker. Unfortunately, before you start playing, there are really no explanations for the classes and what they specialize in. Not in the game, or even in the instruction manual. So I played it safe and played a Berserker, since it looked like a standard melee character class. I was right, Berserkers are basically female melee characters. Rounding out the rest of the classes are a Knight, which is a male melee character, a Druid, which is basically a male caster, and the Alchemist is basically a female caster. So they basically just swapped male and female skins for the classes and labeled them differently.
The game starts you out in a bar/inn that is being invaded by spiders (pretty scary I know). Once you mop them up, you will be able to go to the first city and begin your regular questing. The city is called Aven, and you will be spending a lot of time here since its pretty much the only city. Here you can begin talking to people about different things. However, few of them have anything interesting to say, and only 1 NPC will allow you to push the main quest forward. Once you find them, its off to your first quest: spider slaying (just bare with me, I know its scary).
Once you get to the desired location, you will be dropped into a randomized dungeon and you can begin exploring and killing enemies. You will need to fight your way through the hordes of enemies, and gather any loot you might find along the way. You will level pretty quickly at first, and you will get to raise you stats at each level gain. You will also get skill points to distribute to a pretty small skill tree. Upon getting to the end of the dungeon, you will square off against an elite monster, or a full fledged boss. Upon defeating him, you will receive some loot, and your desired quest item. After this, you can warp out of the dungeon, go back to Aven and talk to the NPC that gave you the quest, and complete it.
Seriously, at this point, you can shut this game off and stop playing, since youve seen the majority of what this game has to offer. Go over the same scenario in your head about 20-30 times and thats what Untold Legends ends up being. While most dungeon crawlers try to keep things interesting by weaving a story, or giving you some impressive skills to use, Untold Legends really does little to make you want to play through the next random dungeon and fight the next boss to finish the next quest. Its kind of hard to explain. It all just feels the same after the first few quests.
Maybe its the lack of different dungeon areas, maybe its the pathetically small amount of different enemies you face, or maybe its the lame skills that you get when leveling up, but something just turned me off about this game.
Perhaps a more broken down analysis will get to the main issues this game has.
Untold Legends will not exactly floor you with its impressive visuals. After seeing the less than impressive visuals, youll wonder what the hell the game is putting into memory during all of those long loading times. The standard top-down view gets the job done, but it lacks detail. You really need to have a sharp eye to notice your armor upgrades, and sometimes you wont even be able to tell that you switched armor at all. Weapons will change accordingly, however, few, if any, produce anything remotely interesting to look at.
The backgrounds and dungeons are okay, but get ready to see them a lot. There are about 4-5 different dungeon backgrounds, so things will start to get repetitive very early on, and it will feel like youve already been in most dungeons before. Occasionally you will come to a new area, like the desert, but it offers the same gameplay problems and issues of the previous areas so it almost doesnt even matter that youre in a new area.
Enemy designs are predictable and nothing special to look at. The elite monsters you face at the end of dungeons are often not even distinguishable from the other enemies besides the red circle around them. If they didnt have the red circle around them, I probably would have treated the elites like any other enemy.
There are no real cut scenes to speak of. Everything unfolds in real time, but it just feels like the developers spent little time on this game graphically. I was pretty un-impressed with the visuals in Untold Legends.
Sounds and Music 6/10
The music in Untold Legends is actually not that bad. I thought it fit the mood of the game well, but it does indeed loop quite a bit. Since you will be going to the same areas over and over, you will quickly tire of the music and find that its much better to turn the music down low, since it really doesnt affect the game at all.
The sound effects are okay, but the same thing applies to the sound effects. You will be hearing them over and over, so they will end up getting on your nerves. Hearing the skeletons hit the floor will be cool at first, and hearing the boar men wail as you slay them sounds cool at first, but you will quickly grow tired of it after going through 3 straight dungeons with mostly boar men as your enemies.
Weapons dont really produce anything different other than the standard slashing sound, and the skills sound muffled.
A decent attempt with the music, but its brought down by repetition and below average sound effects.
I know I really shouldnt penalize a dungeon crawler game for having a bad story, but this one needs to be mentioned for what it is: irrelevant.
It realty doesnt matter, and its not even necessary to read the text in order to get to your next goal or objective. Just click through the text with the character that has an Exclamation Point above their head on the map, sift out the location you need to go to, rinse and repeat with the random dungeon tactic that I explained above.
If you do decide to read the text, you will read great stories of people needing you to slay spiders for venom sacs and kill boar men to create conspiracies interesting stuff.
The controls in Untold Legends is actually its best feature IMO. Getting through the dungeons and slaying monsters is easily done with the clever interface they have set up on the PSP. Potions are quickly accessible through the L and R buttons, and skills are easily accessible through 2 face buttons and a shortcut menu controlled by the d-pad.
The only thing I didnt like was holding R and pressing O to block. I found it cumbersome and too hard to do in battle. One button blocking is pretty much needed in fast paced dungeon crawlers.
As far as dungeon crawlers go, I have played some pretty terrible games in my life, but I must say that Untold Legends is more towards the lower end. While not un-playable bad, its bad enough that I never want to play it again.
The game is easy enough to pick up and play, and even easier to move forward, but it just seems like its all been done before and much better. The random dungeons are a big hindrance on the gameplay, and the developers would have been better off sticking with static dungeons and giving them more detail and depth.
There also seems to be some issues with the randomly generated areas and monsters. Sometimes when I was out and about, I would need to warp back to Aven to de-loot or to buy stuff. However, when I came back, sometimes enemies had re-populated, and sometimes they did not. I really didnt understand what made this happen or not happen, so it was a major point of frustration with this game. Clearing an area, warping out, coming back, and having to do it all over again will really make you not want to play this game. Im sure this is due to faulty design.
Another gameplay element that I have not touched on is the skill system. You have a standard skill tree system to build on. Each level you gain will give you some skill points to distribute. However, the skill tree is very small, and more than half of the skills available for the melee classes are pretty much worthless. Youre better off just slashing like crazy than using skills and worrying about managing Power (mana) as well.
I stuck with 2 main skills, one critical hit buff and one that hits all enemies around me. However, I only used them in certain situations, so they were not even really necessary. The skill system leaves much to be desired, and almost seems tacked on for the melee classes.
The worst thing about this game is that it gets repetitive very fast. Doing the same thing over and over, killing the same enemies over and over, looking for the dungeon boss over and over, and completing what seems to be the same quest over and over will really take its toll on you, and I think someone has to be either very persistent or very bored to get all the way through this game. I stopped a little over half way, and I have no desire to go back and finish it.
The gameplay itself isnt bad, but its all been done before, and why waste your time on a buggy game with horrible loading times for your dungeon crawling fix. There are much better options out there.
Replay value/Longevity 5/10
The main quest itself is quite long, and there are many side areas to explore and go through, but its like going through the same area again and again, and fighting the same monsters again and again. If youre really a glutton for punishment, then the re-play value is there, but I dont see many people taking the time to fully explore this game, since it gets old fast.
In closing, despite my low score for this game, I really do not regret buying it. Especially for $8. It did provide me with some enjoyment, but mostly at the beginning. The further I got in Untold Legends, the more I realized that it all pretty much plays the same, and its not really worth the investment, since its quite a long game.
So if you are going to scrape the bottom of the barrel and dig for some mediocre PSP RPGs, Untold Legends might be a good pickup. Dont expect anything too great, but it does have some lasting value.
My review score 5/10
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade (Greatest Hits) (US, 12/31/06)
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