Review by Gruel

"I like my brotherhood better"

Up until recently, there was a complete lack of traditional and tactical RPGs available on the PSP. Launch saw one RPG made available, in the form of an isometric hack ‘n slash called Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade. This entry is developed by the fine folks at Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), the same people who brought us the pair of Champions hack ‘n slash titles on PS2. SOE delivered in making another solid hack ‘n slash, but had to make some limitations that hampered the already aging gameplay by scaling down this type of game to work for the PSP.

Unlike SOE's console efforts, Untold Legends makes no attempt at delivering an impressive presentation of the storyline. It starts with a bunch of scrolling text telling you the city of Aven is in great danger and if you save it from doom you will be rewarded with great riches. There is none of the awesome voice acting either, which SOE is known for in their Champions titles. I can see why SOE did this with it being on a portable system and people wanting to hop right into the action, but I personally love watching and listening to every line of dialogue, especially if it is delivered well like SOE has accomplished before.

Once past the story intro, you get to pick your class and name your character. There are only four classes available in this game: Knight, Alchemist, Druid and Berserker. From here, I could tell that I was going to be in for a limited experience. Make no mistake about it, Untold Legends is a straight up hack ‘n slash RPG, albeit one that is slower-paced and graphically inferior to its console counterparts. Everything functions as it should, and the magic spells are easy to access. I have to admit that SOE also did a good job transferring the control scheme onto the PSP, with its lack of two shoulder buttons and an analog stick compared to the PS2 controller.

At least the mission length and quests are about on par with most console hack ‘n slashes. There are 40 quests to be had, so rest assured if you are willing to complete this game there will be many hours invested in it. The thing about Untold Legends is that it is not nearly as fun as SOE's console offerings, especially when playing by myself. I did have a decent amount of fun when playing with two of my friends in wireless multiplayer as we don't have to worry about all of us staying on the screen at the same time like we did in Champions.

It seems mostly the case here that SOE tried to make a rushed PSP launch title with little to no effort in making this anything special. However, I will give SOE a little credit for adding a couple of things to make gameplay easier with portable gaming in mind. For instance, you can save anywhere and can also instantly warp back to town square anytime and sell all your excess items. Those two features can unbalance gameplay in most titles in this genre, but they are a perfect fit for gaming on the go that I strongly welcome. There is also the aforementioned wireless multiplayer support for up to four players.

Graphically, this is a few generations behind stellar games in the genre like Dark Alliance and Champions. The animations for the sword slashing, arrow-flying and magic casting is acceptable, but not anything too earth-shattering. The character models for the heroes and many villains is decent too, but very lacking in detail when compared to what is out already on consoles. I can say the same thing about the audio too. No voice acting is a big drawback in my opinion. I am not a fan of the background music in Untold Legends either, it just doesn't seem to match the atmosphere and fails to immerse me into the experience. The only thing done well aurally is most of the sound effects.

Untold Legends is a decent offering from SOE that has a solid set of controls, it is just that the console hack ‘n slash games are far better and leaves this portable effort in the dust. I cannot recommend a purchase as this game gets really repetitive and boring playing by your lonesome. If you have to get Untold Legends make sure at least some of your friends have it first. But you would be far better off waiting for the already announced Untold Legends 2 that SOE is going to release next year.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 12/10/05

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