aka: Legendary: The Box, Pandora

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Average score: 50% (based on 58 ratings)

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Average score: 3.2 out of 5 (based on 32 ratings with 1 reviews)

Not quite enough for being a legend

The Good
You do know what happens when you're contributing to a gaming site similar to MobyGames and which is accepting previews. You're discovering some games and you're suddenly waiting for them.

That was the case to Legendary. Not only it was involving mythology (I love the Greek/Roman one) but also, it was a FPS. And being a fangirl for this genre, well, you can understand that I was "in love" with the game.

I was worrying when I saw so many negative reviews about it. It made me doubt. But I wanted to try it. It was reminding me of Painkiller and Will Rock.

The only time I said that I should have listened to critics was for Delta Force Task Force Dagger. And as I'm not someone who will say that I don't buy this game because someone told me so, as I'm someone who need to try before making an opinion, as I know that sometimes, demo can be very good and the game being a failure, well, I bought Legendary for half the price on a certain auction site.

It's nearly a week that I unstalled the game after having played it, written a FAQ, downloaded a trainer (because of the lack of console and cheat codes - just in case) and writing a review.

So, yeah, promising game, interesting ideas but a complete disappointement in the end.

So here is the story of Legendary, a game who will not be remembered as a great game.

Dekard is a thief. A professional one. And when he's contacted by Ormond LeFey for stealing and opening an artifact currently stocked in a museum in New York, he accepted the mission. LeFey's secretary, Vivian Kane, was also sent to guide him. But when he opened the box, Dekart not only received a strange mark but triggered the arrival of mythical creatures. And when he's caught in a war between two factions, he has to make a decision. Deckard is the only hope for shutting down everything, for closing the Pandora's Box...

The storyline is basically normal. I mean, you're playing someone who did trigger the end of the world. Ask Gordon Freeman, he knows that feeling. But you're also the only one to save it, as a good part of FPS heroes are required to do it. An interesting fact is that Vivian is relating the story in the cutscenes. It's not really happening everyday, usually, you have cutscenes with the hero and no off-voice for relating what is currently happening. However, I'm not satisfied by the end.

Legendary isn't requiring you to have brains, I mean, if you need to advance by solving something, the solution is highlighted or in orange or in green, so, it's easy to understand that the valve there will help you to extinguish fire or that you need to shoot that picklock for getting a ladder. So, generally, you just need to concentrate on "how to find a secure way to kill creatures or enemy soldiers".

And just shooting, running, ducking, it's furiously normal in a FPS. Doom, Will Rock and Painkiller are the fine example of it. So what is interesting in Legendary?

The signet on his hand can do marvelous things. In Legendary, creatures are carrying Animus Vitae, an hidden energy. Now that the box is opened, you can see it. Just use the key (on PC, it's F) for absorbing the energy when you're wounded and it will healed you. If you're at full health, you can stock it in case of. And what is interesting is that the Animus Vitae can stun enemies for a second, can push boxes, can make Naris solid or can kill a tentacle that just grabbed you. And you will be required to load EMP with it. In other words, Animus Vitae is the main feature of the soft. Remember, Will Rock had the Titan powers (also with a mark, courtesy of Promotheus), Daniel Garner did have the Black Tarot in Painkiller and in FEAR, the slow-mo was resulting of a genetics modification for the Pointman. So, for trying to be into the light (behind the classics like Doom or Half-Life), you have to be creative. The Animus Vitae is the trademark of Legendary. It's not weak, it's a strong feature and it's not difficult to master.

Legendary, it's also about jumping, sprinting or crouching. If the latter will be frequent for hiding, the two formers aren't really used. Well, the sprint? You'll get it frequently but it's not working in water. And you will use it more for trying to get on a point than for doing the famous sprint jump that I never managed to do. Jumping is unfortunately underused as I did jump only maximum 20 times in Legendary.

Also, you can only carry three weapons (four with Molotov/grenades). You can't switch your axe, so, you have to make choices for your two current guns. If you remember, I wasn't bothered by that kind of gameplay in Vietcong or Call of Duty, as long as I can have what I want. In FEAR, it was bothering me because I wanted some useful weapons but I couldn't have them together. In Legendary, I didn't have to think about my choices: I just wanted that shotgun and that XT9-MU that will help me to snipe. Yes, sometimes, I needed to switch one of them for a rocket launcher or for a SAW but when I didn't need them anymore, I just got back for my gun.

Anyway, I'll be honest. Gameplay is really basic, easy to master and intuitive; apart from the sprint jump. Animus Vitae is just a great idea for healing and it will be used frequently. So, it's not there that you'll find my main grief.

It's mostly weapons that is infuriating me. So, I will not speak about it here, see the negative part of the review for it.

I will not speak about friendly AI as it's the same for enemy human AI at the difference that even if your allies are killed, you will see them replaced by others soldiers.

The enemies are divided in two categories: Black Order and Mythical Creatures.

The Black Orders are under LeFey's orders. They want to kill you along with Vivian for unknown reasons. They're equipped with guns, even SAW or Flamethrower but most of them have SMP-9 or XT9-MU. Their AI is pretty good, as they're taking cover, launch grenades, etc..

Mythical Creatures are just there for complicating your life. But their AI is just primitive. They're attacking you, they don't try to avoid you and they don't retreat (except for werewolves that can let you for some seconds before doing a surprise attack). They have all a weakness: if for Naris, it's their solid forms, for the Firedrakes, water can kill them and for Werewolves, you will have to cut their head. Also, Minotaures are more vulnerable when shoot in the back and Echidna's Tentacules can be killed fastly with your weapon or with Animus Vitae. Griffons are just weak against a rocket and Tsuchigumo's Children are perhaps weak but in number. Kill their Queen for not having a perpetual arrival of Blood Spiders.

Finally, it's perhaps the two bosses that are a real challenge. The Golem can just kill you by walking on you or by punching you. But the Kraken is above all. Because you'll need a lot of rockets into his mouth for killing it. Also, you can be reduced to nothing with a tentacle.

My conclusion? If the Black Order is behaving well, they don't have enough variety in soldier. Mythical Creatures are perhaps primitive but each of them are quite a challenge. It's just a pity that the developers didn't add more creatures: Harpys, Sirens, etc..

Another feature that seems to become a standard in sci-fi/future/modern FPS is the PDA or anything else that can help you to understand what is happening.

Dekard's PDA is somewhere not a new feature. Doom 3 did use it for getting codes, access and for the story. FEAR uses phones and computers for getting the whole plot behind the incident. Legendary is using PDA for getting information but also the reaction of people.

Deckard's PDA is divided in 5 sections: Information (generally about the Pandora's Box, the Council of 98 and the Black Order), Weapons (obviously for knowing what you're manipulating), Creatures (for knowing what you're fighting and getting a tip on how to kill them), Objectives (what you're required to achieve) and Picked Objects (the famous PDA).

If most of these sections are useful and sometimes hilarious as you can see Dekard's point of view, the Picked Objects are just useless. See you later for the explanation.

Now, it's time to speak about graphics. If some settings and mythic creatures were well designed, as the weapons, I'm still getting that feeling that Legendary isn't using the engine at its potential. Yeah, the effects were fine but that didn't erase the feeling that Legendary was inferior to games that have already 4 or 5 years. Was it because of a particular thing? I'll let the suspense. Just go to the next part (about negative points) for seeing the answer.

As far as I know, Legendary's soundtrack is simple but efficient. It's not something bad but I'm not satisfied by the lack of tracks. It's always the same tune, the same music, yes efficient but I wished for more variety.

If the lifetime is correct when you're not trying to sprint jump for an half-hour or to get through the tentacles , the replayability is something strong in Legendary if you're not disgusted by the whole game. I mean by that that you can find a multiplayer mode and that you can just play any episode you want (if you want to hunt all PDA). You can also choose between three difficulty levels but I assure you that Easy was already something hard. Where is that notion of Easy = Dying isn't happening often?

Also, if the whole escaping from museum is a good idea, you'll be disappointed that you're not playing the raid in LeFey's Lab after gaining the Cathedral's control. I mean, you're told to raid it and suddenly, it's a cutscene. It's just less hours of playing less.

As for the price value, just rent it or buy it at a low price, because putting 46 euros (for me) in that game is just a waste of your money.

The Bad
The first negative feeling is in reality the last one I've experienced. The storyline is coherent. You don't find plotholes, that's good. But seeing the end... I was still craving for answers, answers I didn't got. Where is Vivian? Did she help Dekard? Why isn't she at his side as she was during all the game? As you can see, the end is perhaps original but you don't get what you expected and is still full of answers. It's perhaps adding to the mystery but seriously, I was expecting something else than that.

I'm already asking you for being forgiven to provide a list of weapons as I really need to explain them. I'm not explaining Molotov Cocktails or Grenades as they're really handful from time to time. You'll be relying more on your weapons than these two. Only four are deserving to be praising and only one did find a way to my heart. The rest is just useless or making me feel like a idiot when having them in my hands.

I can understand that escaping a collapsing museum isn't requiring you to have a weapon. Finding a melee weapon is normal. Gordon has crowbar, Dekard will have an axe (very handy against werewolves). But what I can't understand is that I must fight with a simple pistol, who is so weak that I was nearing the no ammo at all each time that I'm fighting some Firedrakes. And when I finally found a gun, a SMP-9, I have to fight five or six soldiers which are always hitting me when the accuracy of my own weapon is very poor.

So, first of all, the axe is very useful for not using ammo when you're required to break some wood or some grates. It's also handy against Limo Werewolf for cutting his head. You can't switch it and I did enjoy the use against the Werewolves or objects that I needed to break for not wasting ammo.

The pistol is just a joke. Yes, it's your first weapon but its accuracy is really low and most of all, inflicted damage is ridiculous. I just dropped it when I found the shotgun, because I couldn't stand it anymore.

The Desert Eagle could have been more useful if it was proposed earlier in the game that in the third "chapter", in the British campaign. Because, well, you did have now more powerful guns and switching one of them for a Desert Eagle wasn't a smart move, as I've said, the shotgun and the XT9-MU were efficient at this moment. If the Desert Eagle was proposed earlier instead of the crappy pistol, it would have been less frustrating than the current situation. A weapon that could have lowered my degree of frustration if proposed earlied.

The SMP-9 is the real first gun you'll get. That minigun is really useful because when you find it, you have only a pistol, so trust me, it's a relief to have it. Even its accuracy isn't great, it's inflicting more damage but not enough for taking down quickly the Black Order soldiers (your enemies). They're equipped with the same weapon but you're wondering why a single enemy can take you down quickier than you when you're hidding a better way than him.

The shotgun is finally a great weapon. It can take down a lot of creatures. Unfortunately, it's only 8 bullets in a row, as a lot of shotguns in FPS. But still, it's one of the best weapons out here, with a good accuracy and a good range of damage. I'm not a shotgun fan but this one, because of the lack of better weapons, was really useful.

The XT9-MU is a sort of submachine gun, in reality, it will be your sniper weapon. You can do take down enemies soldier almost instantly, it's also useful against creatures and even if it's only 30 bullets in a row, it's the best weapon in the game... for me. It's just perfect: good accuracy, good damage, good zoom, so, why letting it behind? It's the only weapon I've enjoyed so far.

The SAW is the big submachine gun. 200 bullets in a row, it can take down almost every creature and it's effective against Minotaures. Unfortunately, the time for reloading is long and as far as I know, I don't like that kind of weapon. Still, a lot of players will let the XT9-MU behind for the SAW because it will be more efficient. Not me. I didn't feel at ease with this weapon, in fact, I was bothered to take it, even in a situation requiring it.

The Flamethrower was a good idea. Having a different weapon than the usual ones is always a good idea. If its range is consequent, unfortunately, its ammo is rare in the game and you will not have the pleasure to use it frequently, as better weapons exist.

The Rocket Launcher will be useful when you're proposed to take it. But then, you can switch it. Because it's not useful when you don't have Griffons or Kraken to kill. Still, with its lockage system, it's one of the few weapons I actually felt that it was useful in the game, even if you need to drop it for taking back another weapon. After all, the developers did put ammo where it was needed, so, it's without regret that I've let it behind.

So, as you can see, the weapons are perhaps classics but only a few of them will be really accurate and useful during the majority of your game. It's only a pity that the Desert Eagle wasn't proposed earlier and that the Flamethrower is just there for making it interesting.

If you remember, I've spoke about PDA. And I told you that Picked Objects is an useless section. I'm ready to explain it.

Picked Objects is about SMS, Email or intercepted message from Black Order or Council. Unfortunately, they're really... useless. Yes, it can be funny to read about someone who is trying to study the werewolves or about a wife trying to knock some reason in her husband's mind but that's all. I mean, a message is telling that werewolves are killed when you're cutting the head. It's found during LeFey's Lab assault. But you did already know that fact, as you have fought werewolves BEFORE knowing the Council and BEFORE getting involved in the assault. A lot of messages are just like that. Without interest. And it's really a pity, because it could have been something really interesting.

I don't know if I'm mad about weapons more than the saving system or if it's the contrary but I really need to speak about something I'm not usually writing.

I don't know if it's because of PS3/360 or if it's a deliberate choice to let it on PC but if I don't mind the checkpoint (as an automatic save), I'm just frustrated by the way it's done.

I'm used to fast save (with F5 for example) or to do a normal save. I'm also used to have an automatic save, like a checkpoint. Half-Life is doing it, Painkiller is working also with checkpoints but Legendary is just screwing everything.

Indeed, you can't save your game as you want. No, you need a checkpoint for it. First negative feeling. And then suddenly, you learn that everything done before is deleted. Ok, you can't go back. It's not frustrating because well, it's somewhere normal, as you don't need to load previous saves in Legendary, it's not useful.

But it's when you're playing the mode "Load an episode" that the problem is rising. Indeed, playing this mode will automatically erase your current progression. So, I suggest you to finish first the story if you don't want to loose the fact that you're nearing the end and that because you decided to play a previous episode, you can't get back to it. I'm angry with that kind of save, it's not a smart idea, particularly on PC, where 99% of the games are using the system of "users decide when to save on different free slots". That's just something Legendary ignored. I don't know if it's because of the PS3/360 as I don't own these platforms but I wish that the saving system was more appropriated.

In terms of graphics, I felt that Legendary was inferior. I don't know why I'm feeling that Doom 3 and Painkiller, released five years before, are more appealing than Legendary. But something is sure. The blood and the corpses were just something that I hated. It felt so out of place. I can't tell why I was feeling that it was a rushed element. It's unusual for me to complain about that part but here, Legendary wasn't really paying justice to elements that would set an horror, an anxious setting.

The Bottom Line
Legendary isn't a bad game but it's not also a good one. It will not become legendary despite good ideas like the Animus Vitae. The game is just letting the player down when it comes to accuracy and damage for your weapon, when it comes to pick PDA up and when it comes to that checkpoint system. Legendary isn't ugly but still, you can feel that corpses are out of place. The game is enjoyable for the soundtrack but unfortunately, it's not varied. Only the gameplay seemed to be a strong point but the sprintjump and the underused jump are just a reminding that the game had promising ideas but that everything was just screwed up by wrong choices.

If I recommend it? No, not really. Yes, you can try it, try to find a demo for it. But if you want to play the full game, rent it or buy it at a low price because this game isn't worthy of a full price. Legendary is just a FPS trying to be different from the others but which finally failed.

Windows · by vicrabb (7272) · 2009

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Xoleras, *.*, Wizo, Jeanne, Patrick Bregger, Rebound Boy, Cantillon, jaXen, Solid Flamingo, Jacob Gens, Big John WV, Tim Janssen, Mark Langdahl, Picard, chirinea.