|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Spark Unlimited||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Gamecock||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 4, 08||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Legends are typically the result of an amazing moment in history which is so memorable that the story ends up outliving anyone who was actually involved. As the tale passes from one person to another and eventually one generation to the next, facts begin to change, embellishments are added, and very little that remains even vaguely resembles the actual event that spawned it.
Instead, all that you are left with is perhaps a few nuggets of genuine truth buried underneath an enormous compilation of all the legend's previous tellers' imaginations. In this context, the name Legendary seems incredibly appropriate for this game, as it feels like a shooter that clearly takes inspiration from almost every other that has come before it, except for the few original elements hidden within that desperate attempt to keep it unique.
The story in Legendary clearly borrows from many current shooters such as Halo, Resistance, Gears of War, and many others. The standard formula is present, countless aliens/creatures have come from fill-in-the-blank and it is up to you to stop them and save humanity. The thing that attempts to keep this derivative recipe interesting is that in Legendary, they are mythological creatures running loose in the modern day world after being set free from Pandora's Box. While this does make for an interesting setting for a first-person shooter, the story as a whole is in fact very short, uninteresting, predictable, and full of a mindboggling amount of clichés. To make matters worse, most of the story is delivered using still pictures and narration from a female character with a thick English accent, another clear nod to Resistance.
Legendary seems to be at its best in its first level. After the game's main character Charles Deckard unwittingly opens Pandora's Box and receives a signet on his hand to mark the occasion, pandemonium breaks loose. As you attempt to make your way out of the museum that housed the artifact and down the city streets to safety, countless characters are cinematically ripped to shreds and mutilated by a mixture of griffons and an enormous golem comprised entirely of building debris and demolished vehicles. As you run through a linear maze of vehicles to make your escape, the griffons continue attacking citizens in often humorous ways ranging from quick decapitations to grasping onto them and flying away, while the skulking golem remains ever present.
This is a truly great scene in the game, the only problem being that Legendary is supposed to be a game, which inherently implies the ability to interact with it. All of these events are entirely scripted, leaving the player in no actual danger. You can come to a full stop in the road and just watch the destruction without fear of reprisal. Even after you've acquired a weapon or two, attempting to save these citizens or damage any of the vicious griffons is a completely futile endeavor, since you are completely unable to interact with these foes. While this scene was enjoyable to walk through and watch, there could have at least been the slightest illusion given that what you were doing actually had some influence on what was transpiring.
In the game's defense, only the very first part of the game ignores the player so entirely. As the game progresses, these scripted events are indeed everywhere but they are better integrated into the gameplay experience instead of just being used as a substitute for it. While playing, you are likely to see random characters being pulled through doorways by unknown forces, enemy soldiers grabbed by tentacles never to return, and even nearby subway cars crashing and coming to rest on their sides. These kinds of events, while occurring a little too frequently, do actually add a sense of unease and spontaneity to the game that is very welcome and usually quite entertaining.